Thomas Hale Kensit
|Date of Birth||unknown 1889|
|Place of Birth||St Pancras, London, England|
|Death||13 Nov 1938, aged 48|
|Place of Death||Subiaco, Western Australia|
|Age at Enlistment||24 years, 3 months|
5' 5½" (1.66m) tall ; 120 lbs|
54.431 kg; fresh complexion ; brown eyes ; brown hair
|Religion||Church of England|
|Address||c/- Mrs Bunney, Kelmscott, Western Australia|
|Next of Kin||Aunt , Mrs Anna Bunney|
|Date of Enlistment||12 Jun 1916|
|Unit/Formation||1st Tunnelling Company|
|Date of Embarkation||30 Sep 1916 ‒ 2 Dec 1916|
|Ship Embarked On||HMAT A23 Suffolk|
|Date of Return||23 Dec 1919 ‒ 2 Feb 1920|
|Ship Returned On||SS Port Napier|
Wounded in Action (gassed) 31 Oct 1917 |
Returned to Australia
British War Medal |
Emigration to Australia was via Antwerp in Belgium on the SS Cassel which arrived in Fremantle on 21 Oct 1912.
Entered camp on 12 Jun 1916 and very soon after Thomas was sent to Seymour in Victoria (arrived 1 Jul 1916) to join the Miners Reinforcements. He sailed with 166 other members of the September 1916 Reinforcements soon after for England from Melbourne.
The voyage consisted of four legs, Melbourne to Fremantle where they arrived on 10 Oct 1916, Fremantle to Capetown arriving 30 Oct 1916, Capetown to Dakar in West Africa arrival 15 Nov 1916 and where they had a five day stay re coaling, and then on to Plymouth. Total voyage time was 64 days.
After less than a month in England, he sailed for France on HMT Arundel from Folkestone on 1 Jan 1917, and after 10 days in the Australian General Base Depot he was attached to the 1st Anzac Entrenching Battalion on 12 Jan 1917. This was a transit unit, designed to give tunnelling reinforcements time to adjust to conditions. Thomas joined the 1st Tunnelling Company on 14 Mar 1917.
Thomas reported sick on 27 Mar 1917 and was admitted to the 133th Field Ambulance the same day. He was transferred to the 134th Field Ambulance, and the 39th Divisional Rest Station the next day with conjunctivitis. He was discharged to duty on 6 Apr 1917, and rejoined his unit in the field on 8 Apr 1917.
He again reported sick on 6 Sep 1917 and was admitted to the 98th Field Ambulance, 30h Divisional Rest Station with dental problems before rejoining his unit the next day.
Thomas was wounded in action (gassed) on 31 Oct 1917 when the Company was in the Busigny area. (The unit War Diary entry for the day complains of heavy enemy shelling and gas attacks.) Admitted the next day to the 3rd Australian Field Ambulance, he was transferred to the 10th Casualty Clearing Station, and on the same day transferred to the 2nd Canadian General Hospital at Treport. He was transferred on 9 Nov 1917 to the 3rd Convalescent Depot where he was treated for Pediculosis (infested with Lice). Discharged to the Australian General Base Depot in Rouelles on 22 Nov 1917, he rejoined his unit in the field on 15 Dec 1917.
Thomas worked on the Hill 60 mine at Messines as a 'listener'. At one point he was blown up, and needed to be rescued by other tunnellers who bored a hole in the blocking earth and pumped air to him. He also was likely to have been involved in digging the Catacombs at Hill 63; the Easter raid of April 1917 and the accidental explosion on 25 Apr 1917 which killed 10 members of his unit; and the construction of the Hooge Crater dugouts.
Thomas again reported sick on 12 Mar 1918 and was treated by the 14th Field Ambulance, the 21st Casualty Clearing Station and the 2nd Casualty Clearing Station for VD before being transferred by Ambulance Train No. 12 to the 39th General Hospital at Le Havre where he was admitted on 21 Mar 1918. On 19 Jun 1918 he was discharged to the Australian General Base Depot in Rouelles, rejoining his unit on 7 Jul 1918.
Thomas reported sick again on 6 Aug 1918 with debility, he was seen the next day by the 11th Australian Field Ambulance who on 8 Aug 1918 placed him on Ambulance Train 34 which transported him to the 16th General Hospital at Tréport. On 15 Aug 1918 he was transferred to the 1st Australian Convalescent Depot at Le Havre before being discharged to the Australian General Base Depot on 14 Sep 1918. He rejoined his unit again on 19 Sep 1918.
From 5 - 19 Feb 1919 Thomas enjoyed furlough in the UK, returning to France and his unit on 22 Feb 1919. On 26 Mar 1919 he severed his ties with the 1st Australian Tunnelling Company to undertake non-military employment in the UK prior to his return to Australia.
Thomas married Emma Gray, a 23 year old Lady's Companion from Clapton at St James Church Clapton on 21 Jul 1919. On 27 Aug 1919 he was placed on indefinite leave awaiting a family ship.
Emma accompanied him on his return to Australia. Discharged by the 5th Military District on 21 Mar 1920.
Electoral Roll entries - 1916 "The Oaks", Warren road, Katanning, farm labourer; 1925 with wife Emma at Watheroo, farmer; 1925 - 37 East Marchagee, farmer. Daughter Eileen (b. Canning area 1920), son Frederick (1925 - ). Emma remained at East Marchagee until 1943 or later. [Aunt was Anne Bunney of Kelmscott.]
On 26 Jun 1934 Thomas signed a Statutory Declaration that he had lost his Discharge Certificate when a piece of wood fell out of the fire onto the floor, lighting the house which was lined by hessian, and everything we owned was burnt. At the time he was working for Mr Leslie Keamy on his Cardo Farm near Watheroo.
The above narrative is based on information from not only Thomas's military records, but it also reflects research undertaken by the Carnamah Historical Society & Museum and from the Tunnellers Research Website www.tunnellers.net
For further details relating to the 3rd Tunnelling Company, visit their website