BURNETT, Thomas Henry
(Service number 6/411)
|Aliases||aka Henry Thomas Barnett|
|First Rank||Private||Last Rank||Private|
|Date||17 November 1886||Place of Birth||Dunedin, New Zealand|
|Date||15 August 1914||Age||27|
|Address at Enlistment||Fairlie, New Zealand|
|Previous Military Experience|
|Next of Kin||James Burnett (brother) Half Way Bay, Queenston, New Zealand|
|Medical Information||5ft 8inches tall, 154 pounds (70kgs), chest 35-371/2 inches, dark complexion, brown eyes, dark brown hair, false upper teeth bottom good.|
|Served with||NZ Armed Forces||Served in||Army|
|Body on Embarkation||Main Body|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship||Canterbury Infantry Battalion|
|Date||16 October 1914|
|Embarked From||Wellington, New Zealand||Destination||Suez, Egypt|
|Other Units Served With|
|Last Unit Served With||Canterbury Infantry Battalion|
|Campaigns||Egypt 1914-1915; Gallipoli 1915|
|Service Medals||1914-1915 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal|
Award Circumstances and Date
Prisoner of War Information
|Date of Capture|
|Where Captured and by Whom|
|Actions Prior to Capture|
|PoW Serial Number|
Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses
|Date||25 April 1915 and 1 May 1915||Age||28|
|Place of Death||Gallipoli, Turkey|
|Cause||Killed in action|
|Memorial or Cemetery||Lone Pine Memorial, Lone Pine Cemetery, Anzac, Turkey|
|Memorial Reference||Panel 27|
|New Zealand Memorials||On Memorial wall, Timaru; Fairlie War Memorial, Fairlie Golf Club Honours Board|
Thomas Henry was born at Dunedin on17 November 1886, son of James and Elizabeth Burnett. Prior to enlisting at Timaru he had spent many years in Fairlie where he was employed by Mr R.G. Beaton as a carpenter. Here he had been regarded as a gallant gentleman, a keen golfer and one of the finest footballers ever seen in the Mackenzie County.
Thomas underwent his medical at Timaru on 15 August 1914, where the medical officer inadvertently put his name down as Henry Thomas Barnett and was disinclined to alter the enlistment forms. It was by this name he known during his time in the army. His papers described him as being single, aged 30 (but actually only 27), Methodist, 5 foot 8 inches in height, weighing 154 pounds (70kgs), with a chest measuring 35–37 ½ inches, having a dark complexion, brown eyes, dark brown hair, false upper teeth with the bottom being good. His birth date on his papers was quoted as 8 May 1884 but New Zealand Birth Death’s and Marriages record him as being born on 17 November 1886. On 15 August, after being farewell at the drill hall by the Ven Archdeacon Jacob, Thomas and other local recruits marched behind the band of the 2nd (SC) Regiment through Stafford Street to the railway station, where they boarded the second express for Christchurch. On arrival in Christchurch they marched in to the Addington Showground’s which had been set up as a Mobilisation Camp for the Canterbury Military District. Shortly after arrival Private Burnett was posted to the 2nd Company, 2nd South Canterbury Company under the command of Captain Grant. Here the men lived under canvas, and were issued with basic equipment, blankets and a rifle. Training began under the tuition of officers and non-commissioned officer who had gained their experience in the Territorial’s, and range practice was held at Redcliff’s with the local area used for route marching. At the beginning of September due to bad weather, the camp moved to the Metropolitan Trotting Club’s grounds next door for a few days, before again moving to Plumpton Park Trotting Ground at Sockburn on 7 September.
On 23 September 1914, the “Athenic” (HMNZT 11) was in Lyttelton and took on board units of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, mainly Headquarters, Mounted Rifles Brigade, the Canterbury Mounted Rifles Regt. (2 squadrons) and the Canterbury Infantry Battalion (less 1 Company). This consisted of 54 officers, 1,259 men and 339 horses, and was what was known collectively as the Main Body. She then proceeded to Wellington and berthed there intill 16 October 1914, when it was judged safe to depart. The delay was caused by the presence in the South Pacific of enemy warships, and the lack of a suitable naval escort powerful enough to protect the convoy. In the meantime the troops living aboard ship were taken ashore daily for exercise, training on the Wellington hills, and also out to the Trentham rifle range. Finally on 16 October 1914, after the arrival of HMS “Minotaur” and the Japanese warship “Ibuki”, along with escorts HMS “Psyche” and HMS “Philomel” the contingent sailed across the globe in convoy. Along with the Athenic nine other transports carried men to the front: HMNZT 3 “Maunganui”, HMNZT 4 “Tahiti”, HMNZT 5 “Ruapehu”, HMNZT 6 “Orari”, HMNZT 7 “Limerick”, HMNZT 8 “Star of India”, HMNZT 9 “Hawkes Bay”, HMNZT 10 “Arawa” and HMNZT 12 “Waimana”. This convoy was made up of 8,500 men, and about 4,000 horses, which made its way to the Middle East by way of Hobart. There they disembarked for a route march through the town and were treated with flowers, fruit and bottles of beer by the local people - which did not seem to please General Godley and his staff when they marched past. Then it was on to Albany where they joined the 28 transports convoying the First Detachment of the Australian Imperial Forces. Together they travelled via Colombo, Aden, and finally arrived in Alexandria to disembark the soldiers on 3 December 1914. There was a bit of excitement during the voyage when the HMAS “Sydney” left the convoy to pursue and sink the German cruiser “Emden” off the Coco’s Islands.
On arrival at Alexandria the Main Body entrained for Zeitoun Camp which was four miles out from Cairo, but arrived to find that it was a camp in name only until their arrival - the site being a dirty and sandy spot on the edge of the desert. From then on time was spent in training and a bit of sightseeing. In February his battalion was posted to the edge of the Sahara Desert in order to deter the Turks from progressing further into Egypt and seizing the Suez Canal which was a vital transport route for the Allies. After a month in Ismailia they returned to Heliopolis knowing the Suez Canal was safe. Thomas and his company, the 2nd South Canterbury, didn’t get involved in the fighting but they were close enough to get an idea of what war really was like. The army spent a lot of time in Cairo doing route marches and training but had no idea where they were to be sent. In April a large number of troops from England arrived and the realisation came that they were going to have, “a big dust” up somewhere, perhaps the Dardanelles. On 9 April the 2nd South Canterbury’s left camp for Alexandria where they boarded transport for Lemnos. Here they carried out disembarking practice and preparing for landing on the beaches of Gallipoli. On 25 April 1915, as one of Major Grant’s men, Private Burnett was part of the landings on the first day. In the confusion Major Grant took his men up Malone's Gully, enfiladed by Turkish fire, and climbed up a steep gully to attack Baby 700, a crucial hill leading to the heights. Grant and his men charged forward but were met with heavy fire and Grant fell fatally wounded. He was to have the unfortunate distinction of being the first man from Timaru to die in that action. Thomas also lost his life sometime during this frenetic and confused period between the landing and 1 May.
Having no known grave his name is commemorated on Lone Pine Memorial, Lone Pine Cemetery, ANZAC, Turkey. The Lone Pine Memorial, situated in the Lone Pine Cemetery at Anzac, is the main Australian Memorial on Gallipoli, and one of four memorials to men of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. Designed by Sir John Burnet, the principal architect of the Gallipoli cemeteries, it is a thick tapering pylon 14.3 metres high on a square base 12.98 metres wide. It is constructed from limestone mined at Ilgardere in Turkey. The Memorial commemorates the 3268 Australians and 456 New Zealanders who have no known grave and the 960 Australians and 252 New Zealanders who were buried at sea after evacuation through wounds or disease.
On 1 June 1915 the Otago Daily Times reported: "Great gloom has been cast over the Fairlie District at the news of the death of Private T H Burnett (Canterbury Infantry battalion) who was killed in action at the Dardanelles. Private Burnett, during his many years residing in Fairlie, endured himself to practically the whole population by his unswerving straightforwardness and genial nature and was always the true type of one of nature's very gallant gentlemen. He took a great interest in sport, being keen golfer, as well as one of the finest footballer ever seen in the Mackenzie country. The Fairlie correspondent of the Timaru Herald writes we can account for the error in his name as follows. When Mr Burnett passed his medical test the Doctor spelt his name Barnett, although pressed to do so, did not think the matter sufficient importance to have the mistake removed. We have always addressed his papers etc to 6-411, so there can be no mistake that it is really T. H. Burnett who was killed."
In 1923 Thomas’ brother James received his brother’s war medals which included the 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal along with a scroll and plaque. Thomas’s name is commemorated locally on the Timaru Memorial Wall (as HT Burnett), the Fairlie War Memorial and Fairlie Golf Club Honours Board. In October 1925 his brother James of Southland, presented a handsome oak and silver trophy, the Burnett Memorial Shield, to the Fairlie Football Club for inter Waimate/Mackenzie sub union competitions. Fairlie won the shield for the first time in November 1925.
Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [November 2020]; New Zealand ANZACs in the Great War 1914-1918 (University of New South Wales) at https://nzef.adfa.edu.au/showPerson?pid=12697; "Casulaties" in The Sun (Christchurch) 24 May 1915, "Roll of Honour" in Timaru Herald 27 May 1915, "Football" [Thomas Burnett Memorial Shield] in Timaru Herald 7 Oct 1925, and "Fairlie" column [presentation of shiled] in Timaru Herald 27 November 1925, all courtesy of Papers Past at https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/
No documents available.
Researched and Written by
Ann Munro, SC branch NZSG; Ted Hansen, SC branch NZSG
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Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License unless otherwise stated.
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