Thomas Joseph Sheehan

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Thomas Joseph Sheehan
Personal Information
Date of Birth 28 Jan 1892
Place of Birth South Melbourne, Victoria
Death 4 Oct 1917
Place of Death Broodseinde, Belgium
Age at Enlistment 25 years, 1 month
Description 5'5½" (1.66m) tall ; 148 lbs
67.132 kg
; fair complexion ; grey eyes ; brown hair
Occupation Mill hand
Religion Roman Catholic
Address Jarrahdale, Western Australia
Next of Kin Wife , Mrs Ellen Mary Sheehan
Military Information
Reg Number 5087
Date of Enlistment 20 Mar 1916
Rank Corporal
Unit/Formation 28th Battalion, 13th reinforcement / 7th Brigade, 4th Division
Date of Embarkation 18 Jul 1916 ‒ 9 Sep 1916
Ship Embarked On HMAT A48 Seang Bee
Fate Killed in Action 4 Oct 1917 Broodseinde
Monument Jarrahdale War Memorial
Jarrahdale Honour Roll
ANZAC Memorial Park (Byford)
Menin Gate Memorial
Australian War Memorial
Medals British War Medal
Victory Medal

Pre War

In 1914 Thomas married Ellen Mary Lewis. Son born (Francis Joseph) 23 Mar 1915.

Electoral Roll entries - Jarrahdale, mill hand

War Service

Entered Blackboy Hill camp on 28 Mar 1916, and on 4 Apr 1916 he was allocated to the 13th reinforcement draft for the 28th Battalion. During the trip to England on 26 July he entered the ship's hospital with VD. On arrival in England Tom was sent to an Isolation camp. Admitted to 1st Australian Dermatological Hospital at Bulford for further VD treatment on 14 Nov 1916, he was transferred to Parkhouse on 18 Dec, before on 30 Dec 1916 being released for duty. Total ineffective time was 158 days.

Thomas proceeded overseas to France on 16 Jan 1917 via Folkestone where he boarded SS Princess Henriette. On 23 Jan 1917 he joined the 28th Battalion which at the time was in billets at Buire, training. Ill again from 8 - 20 Mar 1917, and from 7 - 18 May 1917.

Appointed Lance Corporal on 7 Jul 1917, and Temporary Corporal on 26 Sep 1917, before being killed in action on 4 Oct 1917 during the battle known as Broodseinde after the village that sat on the ridge that they attacked. Both German and Australian troops were in no man's land waiting to attack each other's front lines when their respective artillery barrages lifted.

From the statement below it is clear that Thomas was killed by a heavy mortar barrage that the Germans were attacking behind. Finding themselves opposed by a much stronger force they broke and ran. However, for Thomas the damage had already been done.

Red Cross file: [1].
"I knew him well. I was in his section. He came from the West. He was short and nuggety, about 25. About the 4th October we were in Zonnebeke, preparing to attack, about 4:00am. We were in shell holes waiting and Sheehan was near me. A shell dropped where he was and he was killed right out. His body was buried with 6 others in the same shell hole where they were hit on Zonnebeke Ridge. The grave is not marked." Townson R.H. Pte 5437
  • Menin Gate Memorial - 2015 photo L.Reynolds
  • 28th Battalion panel 2015 photo


Commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial, Belgium (Panel 23).

Ellen (nee Lewis) and Thomas Sheehan were expecting their second child when Thomas left to go to war. Their daughter Gwendoline Edna was born on the 18th July 1916. 

Just shortly after the birth, tragedy struck the Sheehan family on the 16th August 1916 when Ellen aged just 21 years, died as a result of burns she received when her dressing gown caught fire from flames from the copper while washing clothes in the wash house. 

Just a year after Ellen Sheehan’s death from the washhouse fire, word was received from the war office on the 4th October 1917 that Thomas Joseph Sheehan had  been killed in action in Belgium, two months earlier on the 26th September 1917.  Thomas died not knowing or seeing his new baby daughter Gwendoline.

Their son, Francis Joseph Sheehan, born 23 Mar 1915 in Fremantle served during WW2 with the RAAF from 7 Dec 1941 until 11 Mar 1946. He was a Flight Lieutenant whose final posting was to 7th Operational Training Unit.

  1. "Australian Red Cross Wounded and Missing Files - Thomas Joseph Sheehan". Australian War Memorial. 2018. Retrieved 2 May 2018. 

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