Tom was born in Rockhampton on the 19th of February 1896. He grew up in Emu Park and was a fisherman before joining the AIF in February 1916, just after his 21st birthday.
He served in the 9th Battalion and was gassed several times while fighting in France, and was shot in the thigh. After the Armistice he remained in Belgium as part of the occupying forces, finally returning to Australia in September 1919.
Tom married Ethel Lancaster in 1920 and they had four children: Richard, Tom, Kathleen and Fred. Ethel died in 1924, less then a year after the birth of her youngest child, Fred. She was only 30. Tom was left to raise the four children and did so with the help of his extended family.
He re-married 1928. His new wife, Maud helped him with the children, but there was no happy ending as Tom continued to suffer from the effects of mustard gas poisoning during the war. He died in 1930, suffering a heart attack on Shoalwater Beach while dragging for bait with his son, Richard. Richard ran home to his Grandfather Ahern, who collected the body of his son and carried it back on his trap.
Tom’s children were cared for by various members of the family. All four of them served in the Second World War.
Read more about Tom’s war service at the RSL website here.