Thomas Francis Bourke
Serial No. 6714
Thomas Francis Bourke - Information
Thomas was one of many children born to John David and Alice Mary Bourke, born in 1892 in Wellington, NSW. After the children were born, Campbelltown native, John, moved the family to the area, where they resided on Menangle Rd. While living with his family, Thomas was working as a chairman and a foreman.
When the war broke out, Thomas watched many of his friends and family members sign up. This included his cousin, John Dwyer Bourke, who joined up at the end of 1915. On the 26th of July 1916, Thomas enlisted at the Royal Australian Show Ground in Sydney, aged 23. By July, he was in training at Cootamundra Camp. On the 8th of November, he was shipped out with B Company, 22nd Reinforcements, 1st Battalion, embarking Sydney on the SS Port Nicholson.
Thomas landed at Devonport in January 1917, and was taken on strength to the 1st Battalion in the frontlines by April. The following month, his unit fought against the Germans during the Second Battle of Bullecourt, an assault on the Hindenburg Line, before being moved to the Ypres sector in Belgium. A major offensive had been planned to clear the Belgian coast and possibly achieve a breakthrough. Thomas fought with his Battalion during the Third Battle of Ypres at Menin Road and Polygon Wood. On the 4th of October, when Thomas's unit was attacking at Broodseinde Ridge, he was struck by a shell explosion. Shell fragments cut up his face and penetrated his left knee. After initial treatment at a casualty station, Thomas was evacuated to England to a military hospital. However, Thomas' leg wound was not healing as expected. Closer examination revealed that the shell fragments had pierced right through to the knee joint. The joint was swollen and the tissue around the wound became extremely thickened, indicating the presence of small bits of fragments also. In this era, it would have been very difficult to remove all shell and bullet fragments contained within any wound. The damage was permanent and consequently, Thomas was invalided to home on the 31st of July 1918 on the HMAT Malta. He reached Australia by September and began working as a manufacturer. He passed away in Chatswood on the 3rd of May 1969.