Thomas Vincent Hunt (1869-1916)
Australian War Memorial Collections DA10407

Thomas Vincent HUNT

Regimental Number
Known As
War Service
Egypt, Western Front
Prior Military Service
Previously rejected for AIF enlistment on account of teeth
06 Jul 1915 at Melbourne, VIC
09 Nov 1916 from Melbourne, VIC, on the HMAT A62 Wandilla
Next of Kin
Brother, John Hunt, 240 Madeline Street, Carlton, Victoria
Date & Place of Birth
September 1869, Kilmore, VIC
John and Ellen (nee Thompson) Hunt
Marital Status
John, Mary Ann, Michael, Nellie
Physical Description
5 feet 8 1/2 inches, 174 pounds (174.0cm, 78.9kg)
Eyes blue, Hair light brown, Complexion sallow
Roman Catholic
Killed in Action, 20 Jul 1916, Fromelles, France – Aged 47
Place of Burial
No known grave
V.C. Corner (Panel No 3), Australian Cemetery Memorial, Fromelles, France
Positively Identified

Tom Hunt – A Son of Kilmore

Can you help us identify Thomas?

Thomas Vincent Hunt was killed in Action at Fromelles. As part of the 31st Battalion he was positioned near where the Germans collected soldiers who were later buried at Pheasant Wood. He also appeared on the German Death Lists and his paybook was returned by the Germans. There is a chance he might be identified, but we need help. We are still searching for suitable family DNA donors.

In 2008 a mass grave was found at Fromelles, a grave the Germans dug for 250 (Australian) bodies they recovered after the battle.

If you know anything of contacts here in Australia or his relatives from Cappawhite, Ireland, please contact the Fromelles Association.

See the DNA box at the end of the story for what we do know about his family.

Early Life

Thomas Vincent Hunt , “Tom”, was born in Kilmore in September 1869 to parents John and Ellen (nee Thomson) Hunt. John had emigrated to Australia with his family in 1858 from Cappawhite, County Tipperary, Ireland. They settled in Kilmore, Victoria, which was the home of two other older sisters who had moved there in 1854.

John and Ellen raised a family of five:

  • John Patrick 1865–1951
  • Mary Ann 1867–1941
  • Thomas Vincent 1869–1916
  • Michael Francis 1872–1930
  • Ellen Elizabeth (Nellie) 1875–1958

Tom was a baker by trade and had moved to Carlton, a Melbourne suburb, prior to the war. He never married. Tom’s Uncle Thomas was the creator, owner and editor of the Kilmore Free Press from 1865 to 1933 and was also the local politician for the area from 1874 to 1908.

1076-Tom Hunt – A Son of Kilmore-image1png
Uncle Thomas Hunt (Victorian Politician)
source Https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/members/thomas-hunt/

Off to War

Three Hunt family members enlisted. The first was Tom’s 20-year-old nephew, Thomas Vincent O’Brien (841), who signed up in early May 1914. He was in the 6th Battalion and was killed in action at Gallipoli on 5th May 1915. He has no known grave. Tom was the second to enlist, 6th July 1915 at Melbourne. While he was actually 46 years old, he dropped his age to 43, as was a common practice, in order to be accepted.

Another cousin, John Thomas Hunt (3064), aged 37, enlisted in October 1915. He was in the 9th Battalion. He survived the War.

Tom was assigned to A Company of the 31st Battalion. The 31st Battalion was formed with two companies from Queensland and two companies from Victoria. The Victorian enlistees trained at the camp at Flemington Depot and then at Broadmeadows. All were joined in early October at Broadmeadows in Victoria.

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31st Battalion, A Company, November 1915
source Australian War Memorial Collections DAX0911

Before sailing from Melbourne on 9 November aboard the troopship Wandilla, the 991 soldiers of the 31st had been on parade in Melbourne in front of a good crowd. The Minister for Defence, H.F. Pearce said:

I do not think I have ever seen a finer body of men.

INFANTRY MARCH PAST (1915, November 6). Weekly Times (Melbourne, Vic. : 1869 - 1954), p. 32. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article132708935

The Wandilla troopship, a new passenger-cargo vessel, had like so many similar ships, been requisitioned for military service by the Australian Government. She made the trip to Egypt in the usual four weeks and landed at Suez on 7th December. They were first sent to Serapeum to continue their training and to guard the Suez Canal.

In early February, Tom was hospitalized with dental problems and mumps and didn’t rejoin his unit until early March. By that time they had moved to the large camp at Tel el Kebir. The next move was at the end of March, back to the Suez Canal at the Ferry Post and Duntroon Camps and then finally to Moascar at the end of May.

The Western Front - Fromelles

On 15th June, the 31st Battalion began to make their way to the Western Front, first by train from Moascar to Alexandria and then aboard the troopship Hororata sailing to Marseilles. After disembarking on 23 June, they took trains to Steenbeque and marched to Morbecque, 35 km from Fleurbaix, arriving on 26 June. The battalion strength was 1019 soldiers.

Training continued, with how to handle poisonous gas now being included in their regimen. They began their move towards Fleurbaix on 8 July and by 11th July they were into the trenches for the first time, relieving the 15th Battalion. They were then relieved by the 4th NZ on the 16th.

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Map of the Battle of Fromelles 1916
source Michael Senior, Fromelles 1916, Pen & Sword Books, Barnsley England. Reproduced with permission

The original attack on the German trenches was planned for 17 July, but bad weather caused it to be postponed. On the 19th they were back into the trenches and were in position at 4.00 PM.

“Just prior to launching the attack, the enemy bombardment was hellish, and it seemed as if they knew accurately the time set.”

AWM4 23/48/12, 31st Battalion War Diaries, July 1916, page 23

The assault began at 5.58 PM and they went forward in four waves, Tom’s A Company and C Company in the first two waves and B Company and D Company in the 3rd and 4th waves.

While the pre-battle bombardment did have a big impact, the soldiers were still under heavy artillery, machine gun and rifle fire and by 6.30 PM the Aussies were in control of the German’s 1st line system (map Trench B), which was described as “practically a ditch with from 1 to 2 feet of mud and slush at the bottom”.

Source AWM4 23/49/12, 32nd Battalion War Diaries, July 1916, page 11

1076-Tom Hunt – A Son of Kilmore-image4png
Rough sketch of the trenches
source AWM4 23/49/12, 32nd Battalion War Diaries, July 1916, page 14

Unfortunately, with the speed of their attack, ‘friendly’ artillery fire caused a large number of casualties. By 8.30 PM the Australians’ left flank had come under heavy bombardment with high explosives and shrapnel. Return bombardment support was provided and the 32nd, who also had the job of holding the flank to the left of the 31st, was told that ‘the trenches were to be held at all costs’.

Source AWM4 23/49/12, 32nd Battalion War Diaries, July 1916, page 12

Fighting continued through the night. The Australians made a further charge at the main German line beyond Trench B, but they were low on grenades, there was machine gun fire from behind from the emplacement at Delangre Farm and they were so far advanced that they were getting shelled by both sides.

At 4.00 AM the Germans began an attack from the Australian’s left flank, bombing and advancing into Trench A (map). Given the Australian advances that had been made earlier, portions of the rear Trench E had been left almost empty, which then enabled the Germans to be in a position to surround the soldiers. At 5.30 AM the Germans attacked from both flanks in force and with bombing parties. Having only a few grenades left, the only resistance the 31st could offer was with rifles:

The enemy swarmed in and the retirement across No Man's Land resembled shambles, the enemy artillery and machine guns doing deadly damage.”

AWM4 23/48/12, 31st Battalion War Diaries, July 1916, page 29

The 31st were out of the trenches by the end of the day on the 20th. From the 1019 soldiers who left Egypt, 72 soldiers were killed, 581 died of wounds and 85 were missing. The ultimate total was that 166 soldiers were either killed or died from wounds and of this total 88 were missing/unidentified. The bravery of the soldiers of the 31st was well recognised by their own Battalion commanders.

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War Diary Note Recognising the 31st’s Efforts
source AWM4 23/48/12, 31st Battalion War Diaries, July 1916, page 30

To get some perspective of the battle, when Charles Bean, Australia’s official war historian, attended the battlefield two and half years later, he observed a large amount of bones, torn uniforms and Australian kit still on the battlefield.

After the Battle

Tom was amongst the missing. There are no witness statements in his Red Cross files about his involvement in the battle, but he would have been well forward in the advances as the Germans did recover his body after the battle. His ID tag was provided to the Allies on 17th August 1916.

The information later provided by the Germans states that:

”…the Australian Prisoner of War 1054, Pte. T.V. Hunt, 31st Batn. R.C., died on 20/7/16.”

Australian Red Cross Wounded and Missing Files – Thomas Vincent Hunt page 3
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German’s Notification of Tom’s Death
source Australian Red Cross Wounded and Missing Files – Thomas Vincent Hunt page 3

With this wording, it is possible that he was wounded, his body was recovered from the battlefield by the Germans, but then he died on the 20th while in their care. We will never know. Interestingly, there is also an undated, handwritten note in his AIF file that states.

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Handwritten Note of Thomas’ ‘Burial’
source NAA: B2455, Hunt, Thomas Vincent – First AIF Personnel Dossiers, 1914-1920, page 8

A number of missing soldiers from A Company also had this notation (which is a very general map reference). Leslie Walsh (311) and John Morley (258), both from A Company, have the same reference and their bodies were identified from the Pheasant Wood grave in 2010.

To date (2023), a total of 22 of the 88 missing soldiers from the 31st have been identified from the gravesite and are properly buried in the Pheasant Wood Cemetery. Tom may be among the remaining 77 unidentified soldiers from the burial pit.

We just need to find family DNA donors to find out. If you know anything of contacts here in Australia or Tom’s relatives from Cappawhite, Ireland, please contact the Fromelles Association.

Tom is commemorated at:

  • V.C. Corner (Panel No 3), Australian Cemetery Memorial, Fromelles, France
  • Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour
  • Kilmore Shire Honour Roll
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Thomas Vincent Hunt - VC Corner Panel 3
source Https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/55964954/thomas-vincent-hunt#view-photo=22335768 added by soilsister 11 Oct 2009

The Other Thomas Hunt

Thomas wasn’t the only ‘older’ Thomas Hunt to be killed in action at Fromelles. Thomas Hunt (347), a 50 year old, was part of the 32nd Battalion, A Company. He was also identified on the German Death Lists and remains in an unknown grave. You can read his story here.

DNA samples are being sought for family connections to

SoldierThomas Vincent Hunt (1869-1916) b Kilmore, Victoria)
ParentsJohn Hunt (1835-1877) b Cappawhite, Tipperary, Ireland and Ellen Thomson (1847-1899) d Kilmore, Victoria
John Patrick Hunt (1865–1951) b Kilmore d Kew, m Mary Ellen Todd (1867-1942) b Kilmore, d Melbourne
Mary Ann Hunt (1867–1941) b Kilmore d Preston, m Thomas Joseph O’Brien (1860-1920)
Michael Francis Hunt (1872–1930) b Kilmore d Hawthorn, m Alice Lawrence (1870-1960)
Ellen Elizabeth (Nellie) Hunt (1875–1958) b Kilmore d Auburn, m Patrick Paul Dowling (1871-1928)
PaternalJohn Hunt (1797-1883) and Ann O’Brien, Cappawhite, Ireland, d Kilmore, Victoria
MaternalGeroge Thomson and Ellen, unknown

Seeking DNA Donors

Fromelles Association of Australia


The Fromelles Association welcomes all contact regarding this soldier.
(Contact: royce@fromelles.info or geoffrey@fromelles.info).
We also urge any family members to contact and register with the Australian Army
(Contact: army.uwc@defence.gov.au or phone 1800 019 090).


The Fromelles Association maintains this web site, purely by donations received.
If you are able, please contribute to the upkeep of this resource.
(Contact: bill@fromelles.info ).