Monday, 18 January 2016

A Tale of Two Brothers

Warwick Douglas Thomas was born at Shellharbour 9 September 1912. His brother Noel Francis Thomas was born 16 November 1915.

After enlisting in the Army in 1939 and 1940 respectively the Thomas brothers served their country in the Middle East and both arrived home to Australia safely, however both met with accidents and were tragically killed shortly after their return home.

The Thomas brothers were raised at ‘St Ives’ dairy farm at Dunmore. Warwick, the third brother of ten children was keenly interested in farming and land management. He was also a Sunday School teacher, good at tennis, and loved swimming, horses and his motor bike. Warwick was engaged to Grace Campbell from Mascot in 1943 when a terrible accident occurred. It seems Warwick left a train while it was moving near Goulburn Station, and stunned himself. He crawled onto the railway line and was hit by an oncoming train. He died instantly.

Noel Thomas was a Surveyor and was away from home a great deal of the time. He had been promoted to Lieutenant in 1942 and served with the first Australian Railway Company. An         article appearing in the Australian Surveyor booklet stated ‘Lieutenant NF Thomas who died of injuries accidentally received in Northern Territory 17 April 1944 was born at Shellharbour, NSW...In 1940 he enlisted in the AIF and went to the Middle East where he won his commission in the field. He returned to Australia early in 1943 and was transferred to railway construction work’.

Noel Thomas was one of the original members of the railway unit during the construction of the Beirut to Tripoli line. The tragedy of his death was a severe blow to the whole unit for there was no one in the unit more popular than Lieutenant Thomas. He had been driving his platoon in a dust storm in the Northern Territory at the time and came into a collision with another army vehicle. Sadly, he too died from his injuries.

‘They Served Their Country and Then’ by Joyce Bailey (Joyce Whatman)
Warwick Thomas
Joyce Whatman collection.

Noel Thomas
Joyce Thomas collection.