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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Thanks to you ... Thomas Patrick Butler (1894-1917)

With Anzac Day just around the corner, I thought it was a good time to honour one of my ancestors who lost his life in the first world war.

Thomas Patrick Butler was born in Sydney in 1894. He was the second son of Thomas Butler (from County Clare, Ireland) and Catherine Heraty (from County Mayo, Ireland) who married in Balmain in Sydney in 1892.

Thomas signed up on 23 December 1915, just before Christmas. He listed his next of kin as his mother, Catherine Butler (nee Heraty). Details from his service record include:

  • Service number: 5334
  • Rank: Corporal
  • Unit: 55th Battalion (Infantry)
  • Service: Australian Army
  • Conflict: 1914-1918
  • Date of death: 10 March 1917
  • Cause of death: Died of wounds
  • Cemetery or memorial details: Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension, France
  • War Grave Register notes: BUTLER, Cpl. Thomas Patrick, 5334. 55th Bn. Australian Inf. Died of wounds 10th March, 1917. Age 23. Son of Thomas and Catherine Butler, of Barnsbury Grove, Dulwich Hill, New South Wales. Native of Marrickville, Sydney, New South Wales. VI. C. 37.
  • Source: AWM145 Roll of Honour cards, 1914-1918 War, Army
Thomas' signature on his signing up papers:

On 4 March 1917 he was admitted to hospital with wounds to his left side (breast, leg and arm) that he had suffered on 28 February 1917.

He died in France on 10 March 1917 when he was only 23 years of age.

His death is recorded on page 14 of the Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday 14 April 1917. Hi sname is listed under the Roll of Honour.

His death was also recorded in the  Sydney Morning Herald on page 12 on Saturday 9 March 1918, under the Active Service section. There were two notices, one by his mother and father, and one by his brothers and sisters. Note that this notice includes reference to two of his other brothers, John and Jack, who were also on active service.

Although Thomas was buried overseas in the Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension, France, there is a memorial plaque to Thomas on the grave of his parents at Rookwood Cemetery in Sydney.

He is honoured on the Roll of Honour on the Australian War Memorial site, under the entry Thomas Patrick Butler.

Thomas was the son of my great-grandmother's brother. I can only imagine what hell he went through for us future descendants.


  1. So young to make the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. The agony for the family must have beyond belief, particularly with 3 sons serving. Thank you for sharing Thomas' story.

  2. Thanks for your comment Fi. So many families must have had long lost relatives serving. Sad to think how many of our ancestors' lives were cut short by this awful conflict.