Thuillier Lake CARDEW
Eyes brown, Hair brown, Complexion dark
Tracing the final chapter of Thuillier Cardew’s life
Coming from a family of some prominence and also having established his farming credentials in the Dubbo-Gilgandra region, 24-year-old Thuillier Cardew’s war journey was well noted in the newspapers. So, to follow his footsteps in the words of the day key news reports are transcribed below
Enlisted and in Training – SMH July 1915:
“Mr. T. L. Cardew, who is a farmer at Gilgandra, the eldest son of Mr. J. Haydon Cardew, M.I.C.E., consulting engineer, has enlisted for active service, and is now training at Liverpool camp, in the 9th Reinforcements. 2nd battalion.”
Farewells from Gilgandra – Dubbo papers June 1915 :
District News GILGANDRA.
“On Thursday of last week Mr. Cardew was entertained at a valedictory dance. About 25 couples attended, and enjoyed the merry whirl to splendid music supplied by Miss E. Reddan (piano), Mr. H. Philips (cornet) and Mr. Kloster (violin). Extras were played by Mrs. J. H. Hitchen, Miss Lindsay, and Messrs. A. and G. Field. Dainty refreshments were provided by the ladies. The social was brought to a close with the singing of Auld Lang Syne. Mr. Cardew has volunteered for the war.”
GILGANDRA A FAREWELL
“A number of friends of Mr Cardew who is leaving for the front, assembled at the Imperial Hotel on Saturday afternoon for the purpose of presenting him with a case of pipes, as a token of their esteem. The presentation was made by Mr. P. J. MacManus (chairman), who spoke of the sterling qualities of the departing guest. Other speakers were Lieut. Kemp-Bruce, Messrs. Christie, Graham, C.H .Richards, A. L. Field, von Heuckleman, and J. H. McCarthy. Apologies were received from Messrs. Rolls and Fitzhardinge. Mr. Cardew suitably responded.”
Letter home by Thuillier Cardew – Gilgandra paper March 1916 :
“The following letter from Private Cardew, also from this district, has reached the Misses Tibbits "Just a line to say that the parcel you and the kind ladies of Gilgandra sent along for me arrived safely a few days ago. The contents were intact, proved most useful, and again I express my thanks for your kindly interest.
Since I last wrote we have left Abbassia and joined up with our battalion at the main base. Things here are very quiet, and the boys are resting after their hard fighting at Gallipoli. The authorities keep us hard at it drilling every day. Friday being Anniversary Day, our Battalion were going to hold some sports, but at the last moment the majority of us were put on guard instead, so sports were declared off.
Have seen some of the Gil. boys lately, namely, Oliver Jarvis, who is with the 20th Battalion, and was over on the Peninsula for some weeks. Also George Selmes —he used to be Haynes' right-hand man at Yalcogrin. He is attached to the Artillery, and has been through the whole thing since the landing. Frank Raglus, who is with the transport section, and in our tent is a chap called Grey, who says he was with Menlove in the Union Bank at one time.
Remembrances to all. Cardew."
Wounded – Orange and Sydney papers August 1916 (refers to Tom’s oldest sister, Teresa):
PRIVATE CARDEN (sic)
"Mrs. W. J. I. Nancarrow has received word that her brother, Pte T. L. Cardew, has been wounded in the fighting in France. He enlisted from Gilgandra, where he was share farming.”
PRIVATE T. L. CARDEW
"Private T. L. Cardew, son of Mr. J. Haydon Cardew, consulting engineer, of Sydney, has been wounded in France.”
Wounded and missing – Various papers from February 1917
Newspaper casualty lists were now showing Private T. L. Cardew as wounded and missing.
Killed in action – Sydney and Parramatta papers September 1917 :
ROLL OF HONOUR.
"CARDEW Killed In action at Fleurbaix France on July 20 1916 (previously reported wounded and missing), Private Thuillier Lake Cardew, aged 26 years, son of J Haydon Cardew, Rosebank, Wahroonga.”
“PRIVATE T. L. CARDEW, aged 25 years, son of Mr. and Mrs. J. Hayden Cardew, Wahroonga, enlisted in June 1915, as a private in the 2nd Battalion, A.I.F., went to Egypt 30th September same year, and trained there until April, 1916. By reorganisation his battalion became the 54th when he left for France. He was reported wounded at Fleurbaix on 20th July, 1916. Later on he was reported wounded and missing and as killed in action in France 22nd September, 1917. He was trained as a farmer at Hawkesbury Agricultural College, and was three years wheat farming at Gilgandra, where he had 300 acres of wheat under crop when he left for the front.”
Sale of effects and settlement of his estate – January 1918 :
The clearance sale of the effects of the estate of the late Private T. L. Cardew, which was to have been held on the 10th inst, was postponed on account of heavy rain at Eumungerie. The sale will now take place on Wednesday, January 30th, at 1.30 p.m., at "Netherby," Eumungerie. Full particulars in this issue.
Thuillier (Tom) Lake Cardew was born at Woollahra New South Wales on 24 December 1890. He was the fifth of six children born to John Haydon Cardew and Clarissa Reynell (nee Gresson) between 1881 and 1892. Clarissa died in 1894 and John later remarried and had a further two children. John was born in Worcestershire, England in 1852 and was an engineer and licensed surveyor in New South Wales.
A researcher into the Cardew family, advised that Thuillier – sometimes known as Tom – was named for General Sir Henry Thuillier who was Surveyor General of India. Sir Henry’s first wife was Susanne Cardew, John’s sister, and John maintained close connections with the family even after his sister died and Sir Henry re-married.
Tom attended King’s School, Parramatta, and in January 1907, at age 16, was admitted to Hawkesbury Agricultural College (HAC) to study for the Diploma. After leaving HAC, he share-farmed as a wheat grower in the Eumungerie and Gilgandra districts of New South Wales.
Hawkesbury Agricultural College Connections
Tom’s cousin, Colin Loftus Cardew, had also been a HAC student, 1903-1904. It also transpired that the officer in charge of Tom’s Lewis Gun section was Reginald G Downing, who had also been a student at HAC.
The Hawkesbury Agricultural College Journal highlighted the long and distinguished military history in the Cardew family:
"All local records of families serving in the war are beaten by that of the Cardews of the West Country Eng. The family comes from Dr. Cornelius Cardew (1747-1831), Chaplain-in-ordinary to the Prince of Wales. Of direct descendants of the first Cardew, 116 went on service. Ten were killed, 26 wounded, three are missing and two are prisoners. The list of honours shows one K.C.B. [Knight Commander of the bath], one C.B. [Companion of the Bath], three C.M.G. [Companion (of the Order Of) St Michael and St George], six D.S.O. [Distinguished Service Order], two M.C. [Military Cross], and 23 mentioned in despatches…"
Wounded, missing – family connections desperately sought information
Initially, the family was told that Tom was wounded and in hospital. Misinformation or sheer lack of information lead to conflicting reports and false hope over many, many months. The family tried all avenues to find information about Tom’s fate using their many well-placed business and family connections across Australia, England and Europe.
To quote from one letter written by John Hayden Cardew dated 21st November 1916:
To quote from one letter written by John Hayden Cardew dated 21st November 1916:
“Our extreme anxiety must be our excuse for troubling you.”
The official enquiry in August 1917 eventually determined that he had been killed in action at Fromelles. Based on the accounts collected by the Red Cross from other soldiers (some of whom were taken prisoner by the Germans at Fromelles), it seems clear that Thuillier was a Lewis gunner who was killed on the morning of 20th July 1916 by a German sniper while their Battalion was holding a captured trench.
Extracts from some of those accounts are set out below:
From Private J.D. Milne, 3576, A Company, 54th Bn:
“He was on same gun as myself. Early in morning of 20th July, at Fleurbaix, during enemy s counter attack was killed outright by bullet, shot through head. We had to evacuate our position to go further down the line, his body was left where he fell. Pte. G. West of A. Coy., L/Gunners took his papers. West was taken P/W later in the day.”
From Lance Corporal J.H. Wilson 3170 (ex-POW) said they were:
in enemy s first line trench. He was killed by bullet - hit in neck. I think he was shot by sniper. I saw his body lying in the trench. I was wounded and lying alongside him. Snipers got a good many of us in this trench.
From Private G.A. West 2890 (ex-POW) recalled that:
"At 7.30. a.m. on July 20th 1916 he was bombing about 10 yards from me in a German trench at Fleurbaix which we had captured the previous day when he was sniped through the back of the head by the Germans who had got round behind us. I was captured myself about an hour later and saw his dead body when I was being taken away. He was left in the trench which remained in German hands."
Privates Milne and West also gave evidence on the fate of Lance Corporal George Pagan 2906 and Milne made further mention of Tom’s death. Coincidentally, George Pagan also enlisted from Gilgandra just weeks after Tom and was in the same Lewis company; they were killed within moments of each other:
From Private J. D. Milne, 3576:
“He was on the same gun team as myself and was killed alongside me. He was shot through head by bullet within 5 mins of Cardew 2793.”
Tom was originally listed as having no known grave, but his remains have been positively identified from those recovered in the Pheasant Wood mass burial site outside Fromelles. This is from DNA matching and genealogical research for both sides of the family, largely done through the Fromelles Association. His remains are now located and appropriately commemorated in the Pheasant Wood Military Cemetery, Fromelles.
His dedication ceremony took place on 19 July 2017 at the 101st anniversary ceremony of the Battle of Fromelles. At the ceremony, the Monument to the dead of Fromelles was in full flower by the commune and the Australian authorities. Schoolchildren accompanied the Australian, German, British and French soldiers to lay roses at the foot of the stele (headstone) of soldiers still unknown.
In the Fromelles, Pheasant Wood Military Cemetery, one stele stood out, covered in red. It was the stele for the latest soldier currently identified, Thuillier Lake Cardew. The stele was revealed in the presence of his family and was blessed by Reverend Irwin Bénit.
In addition to being honoured in France with the new headstone and also commemorated on V.C. Corner (Panel No 10) at the Australian Cemetery Memorial, Private Tom Cardew is commemorated on the following:
- family memorial at St John’s Anglican Church Cemetery, Gordon, Ku-ring-gai
- Hornsby District War Memorial
- Wahroonga First World War Memorial
- Eumungerie WW I Honour Board
- Dubbo War Memorial – Dubbo’s Fallen WW I Soldiers
- Gilgandra War Memorial
- St Anne’s Anglican Church, Strathfield
The KU-RING-GAI HISTORICAL SOCIETY INC. July 2015 Newsletter Vol.3 No. 6 provides background detail of the Cardew Collection that is in the society’s possession and of the Cardew family itself.
The Daily Telegraph, Special Tribute - The Fallen of Dubbo
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