Thomas BIRCH

Year of Birth:  1889

Place of Birth:  Cooktown, Queensland

Date of Enlistment:  9 February 1915

Date and Place of Embarkation:  29 June 1915,  Brisbane, Queensland

Ship:  HMAT Aeneas A60

Rank:  Private

Unit(s):  25 Infantry Battalion; 1 to 8 Reinforcements; 2nd Machine Gun Battalion

Regimental Number:  1516

Died:  2 December 1918

Private Thomas Birch – photo courtesy RSL Virtual War Memorial


Thomas Birch was born in Cooktown in 1889, the eldest child of David Birch and Isabella McLeavy. David Birch married Scottish lass Isabella Oliver McLeavy in Cairns 8 Dec 1888. Of their seven children – John Charles (1890), David Temple (1892), James LeFevre (1894), Albert Victor (1896), Agnes Olive (1898) and Annie Bella Ivy (1899) – three enlisted.  Thomas on 9 February 1915, James on 29 April 1916 and Albert on 4 December 1916.  James and Albert returned to Australia.

Thomas was an Ironmonger when he enlisted in Cairns at the age of 25 and was 5 feet 6 inches in height and weighed 126 pounds.  He had a fair complexion with light brown eyes and brown hair. He religion was Church of England. He named his mother, Isabel Birch, Martin St. Cairns as his next of kin. Thomas attended the Cairns State School. Prior to becoming an Ironmonger, Thomas had trained as a Chemists Assistant.

Thomas Birch was wounded in action 3 times including being gassed twice. He succumbed to pneumonia while at the 12 Casualty Clearing Station in France on 2 December 1918.  He was buried in the Busigny Communal Cemetery Extension, Busigny, Cambrai, Nord Pas de Calais, France.


HMAT Aeneas A60 – photo courtesy Australian War Memorial


NAA: B2455 –  letter from Thomas’s mother regarding his death & burial


Northern Herald (Cairns) – 25 June 1915  p 26-  Pte T Birch seated at right


Roll of Honour Circular. Australian War Memorial


Northern Herald (Cairns) 26 December 1918


Online Resources

NAA:  B2455 Birch, T, National Archives Australia

Thomas Birch, Australian War Memorial

Photograph HMAT Aeneas A50, Australian War Memorial

Birch, Thomas;  Image, RSL Virtual War Memorial

Trove Digitised Newspapers, National Library of Australia

Photograph of Cairns Aquatic Club Members on Active Service

Queensland Births Deaths & Marriages

Northern Herald (Cairns) 26 December 1918 p9

Northern Herald (Cairns) 25 June 1915 p26


If you have a photograph or further information about this soldier you would like to share and add to his biography, please contact the Society

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