Sydney Charles Tomkins
Tomkins, Sapper Sydney Charles no 2834
7th Field Company Australian Engineers.
“Beulah Vista”, Church Street, Canterbury.
Born at Canterbury, August 9, 1891, son of George and Florence E. Tomkins.
Educated Canterbury Public School.
Enlisted at Canterbury 17/9/1915, aged 25.
Church of England.
Next of kin, Florence Tomkins, Church Street, Canterbury.
Embarked November 30, 1915.
War service: Egypt, France.
Sapper S.C. Tomkins was one of the first Australians to land in France.
Casualty list DT 12/12/1916 Killed in action [Flers] (with Sapper E. Morgan of Campsie).
DT 12/12/1916 Sapper S.C. Tomkins, who was killed in action in France on November 14, was the second son of Mr and Mrs Tomkins, of Church Street, Canterbury. He left for the war a year ago, and was in the trenches for eight months.
Killed in action 14/11/1916 at Flers, aged 25.
Buried in Warlencourt British Cemetery, grave VI.J.31.
AWM IDRL428 Letters to the British Red Cross re Australian servicemen:
W.C. Wise no.7390 7th Field Company Australian Engineers 2/3/1917:
I saw some of our men go out to bury him near Turk’s Lane (near Le Sars). I saw his cross put on the grave.
Sapper R.G. Smith no.2855 7th Field Company Australian Engineers, 3rd London General Hospital, Wandsworth.
On November 14th 1916, at Flers, Tomkins was killed by a piece of high explosive. It went through his chest. He was buried behind the trenches that had been taken. Two of his comrades buried him.
Sapper Trice and Sapper R. Brown, Aus: Eng 7th Field Company.
Tomkins died in Trice’s arms almost at once. I saw Tomkins lying dead on November 15th 1916. A nice cross was made by the carpenters of the Company with his name, number and regiment marked on it.
Eyewitness: No. Sapper Trice 7th FCE Description:
Short, fairly stout, scar on the upper part of his neck. Known as “Pollock”.
Sapper A. Montgomery no.2620 7th Field Company Australian Engineers, Dock Rest Camp HMDH:
Tomkins had been right through the attack at Flers and across the German line. He came back to report and on his way back was killed by a shell, his body was buried near Turk Trench in a separate grave with a cross on it. His disc and pay book were taken from his body by his own mate.
Sapper Robert J. Brown no.3746 7th Field Company Australian Engineers, AIF, France 21/2/1917:
We were out together on the 14/11/1916 and whilst returning, assisting a mate who had been badly wounded, he was hit by a fragment of shell, and killed almost instantaneously. He was buried by a few of his mates, on the field under a heavy shellfire. It was impossible to bring him in. A few days later after things quietened down a bit, another mate and myself went out and erected a very nice cross over the grave. It was not in a Soldiers’ Cemetery, so no doubt it would not yet be registered.
Captain O.N. Grice 7th Field Company Australian Engineers, somewhere in France (letter) 19/2/1917:
He was killed on the 14th November 1916. A piece of shell struck him in the chest and death was almost instantaneous. A mate and myself buried him where he fell which was on the field, so his grave will not be found in any Soldiers ’ Cemetery. A substantial cross with his name, number, etc. carved and painted on it was placed at the head of the grave. This should stand for a considerable length of time, provided it survives the heavy shelling which that part is subjected to. I have already written to his parents giving them all the details as far as the censor would permit.
Portrait and biography in The All Australia Memorial 1919.
Tele/Mirror list 11/11/1993.
Killed in action 14/11/1916.
Monument, Canterbury Public School Roll of Honour.
Canterbury District. Killed in Action.
The primary source of information on this page was copied from the prize winning publication Canterbury's boys : World War I & Sydney's suburban fringe. This book was the culmination of 12 years (1988-2000) research by a team of volunteers from Canterbury and District Historical Society led by Dr Lesley Muir. Without this team's effort and dedication and the Society's willingness and support, this information would not be available today.
An uneditable version of the book Canterbury's boys : World War I & Sydney's suburban fringe is in the eBook section of this wiki. In the main section, there is an alphabetical list of the 1,911 individuals recorded in the book - the list is titled Canterbury's Boys list. Every name is linked to an editable version of the individual’s biography copied from the Canterbury’s Boys book. The editable biographical files have been created to provide the space for descendants, historians, researchers, etc to add any further information such as photographs, newspaper articles and memories so it is available for this and future generations.
Canterbury's boys : World War I & Sydney's suburban fringe. Edited by Lesley Muir. Campsie, N.S.W. : Canterbury and District Historical Society, 2002