Edward Thomas McCAFFERTY

Year of Birth:  1888

Place of Birth:  Toowoomba, Queensland

Date of Enlistment:  28 December 1915

Date and Place of Embarkation:  18 May 1916, Sydney, New South Wales

Ship:  HMAT Demosthenes A64

Rank:  Sergeant

Unit(s):  41st  Australian Infantry Battalion

Regimental Number:  933

Died:  23 June 1917


Sgt T E McCafferty – Northern Herald (Cainrs) 21 December 1917


Thomas Edward McCafferty was born in Toowoomba on the 15 February 1888 to James McCafferty and Mary Ann Gould.  He appeared to have 11 siblings. Ellen Elizabeth born 1877, James Frederick 1878, Violet Mary Agnes 1879, Adelina Letitia Florence 1881, Amy Thomasetta 1883, Lillie Josephine 1884, then Thomas Edward 1888, Fanny Mable 1889, George Henry 1891, James Gregory 1893 and Sydney Powell  1894.

His brother Sydney McCafferty also served as a Medic in the Army and returned to Australia in 1924 after studying Medicine at Edinburgh University.

Prior to his service in the 41st Infantry Battalion, Thomas served in the Far North Queensland Kennedy Regiment, known as the Dirty 500.  Members of the Dirty 500, including Thomas, landed on Thursday Island on 16 August 1914 from the troopship “Kanowna”, to take part in the capture of German New Guinea. An incident on board the “Kanowna” involving the firemen forced the immediate return of the troops to Townsville on 18 August 1914; he was discharged the same day.

He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force, 41 Infantry Battalion on 28 December 1915, originally naming his father, James McCafferrty, Cairns, as next of kin.  This changed when he married Margaret O’Connell on 4 May 1916.  He was 27 years of age, 6 feet 1 inch in height, weighed 154 pounds with a dark complexion, brown eyes and black hair.  He was Roman Catholic.

He embarked from Sydney on 18 May 1916 on HMAT Demosthenes leaving a pregnant wife.  He never saw his son who died aged 17 days of age.

Edward Thomas arrived in Plymouth, England on 20 July 1916, was promoted to Corporal on 26 September the same year.  He left for France on 24 November 1916, was promoted to Lance Sergeant on 25 January 1917 then Sergeant on 11 April 1917.  He was killed in action on 23 June 1917 and is buried at Messines Ridge British Cemetery, Messines, Flanders in Belgium.


HMAT Demosthenes A64 – photo courtesy Australian War Memorial


Cairns Post – 27 February 1917 p4


Maryborough Chronicle 12 July 1917 p5



Online Resources


Queensland Birth Death & Marriage Index

Photograph of the: HMAT Demosthenes A64, Australian War Memorial

NAA: B2455 McCafferty T E,  National Archives of Australia

Australian War Memorial

Northern Herald 21 December 1917

Cairns Post 27 February 1917

Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay & Burnett Advertiser, 12 July 1917

Trove Digitised Newspapers, National Library of Australia


Other Resources

The First Expeditionary Force: the Thursday Island Expedition: a collection of reference documents. Denis Bird, 2015 [CDFHS Library]


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

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