THOMPSON, Aubrey Edward
(Service number 49026)
|First Rank||Rifleman||Last Rank||Rifleman|
|Date||14 April 1882||Place of Birth||Timaru, South Canterbury|
|Date||17 February 1917||Age||34 years 10 months|
|Address at Enlistment||Barrys Bay, Peninsular|
|Previous Military Experience||Waimakariri Mounted Rifles - resigned|
|Next of Kin||Mrs Annie Elizabeth THOMPSON (mother), 119 Hackthorne Road, Cashmere, Christchurch|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Medical Information||Height 5 feet 5 inches. Weight 116 lbs. Chest measurement 31-33 inches. Complexion dark. Eyes blue. Hair dark. Sight - both eyes 6/6. Hearing and colour vision both normal. Limbs well formed. Full and perfect movement of all joints. Chest well formed. Heart and lungs normal. No illnesses. Free from hernia, varicocele, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inveterate or contagious skin disease. Vaccinated (left). Good bodily and mental health. No slight defects. No fits. Had polypus removed from nose. Class A.|
|Served with||NZ Armed Forces||Served in||Army|
|Body on Embarkation||New Zealand Rifle Brigade|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship||25th Reinforcements, G Company|
|Date||26 April 1917|
|Embarked From||Wellington||Destination||Plymouth, England|
|Other Units Served With|
|Last Unit Served With||New Zealand Rifle Brigade (Reserve)|
|Service Medals||British War 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||28 March 1917||Age||35 years|
|Place of Death||On troopship Turakina at sea en route to England.|
|Cause||Died of disease - broncho-pneumonia & heart failure|
|Notices||Press, 18 June 1917|
|Memorial or Cemetery||Canterbury Provincial Memorial, Christchurch|
|Memorial Reference||Memorial Linwood Cemetery, Christchurch (parents; & brother John's headstone) Block 33, Plots 82, 84|
|New Zealand Memorials||NZ Canterbury Provincial Memorial; Pleasant Point School War Memorial|
Aubrey Edward Thompson was born on 14 April 1882 at Timaru, the third son of Annie Elizabeth (née Robson) Thompson and the late James Thompson. The first-born son died in infancy. His given names in the birth registration were Edward Aubrey, but he went through life as Aubrey. His early education was at Pleasant Point School, where his father was the headmaster for many years. James Thompson, from Northern Ireland, died in 1913 in Christchurch. Aubrey was a cheesemaker for the Barry’s Bay Dairy Company at Barry’s Bay, Akaroa, when he was called up in January 1917. In earlier days he had been a farm labourer at Aylesbury where the family resided for a time and at Kawhia in the Waikato. He had previously served with the Waimakariri Mounted Rifles from which he resigned.
Of relatively small build, single and of Church of England affiliation, Aubrey enlisted on 17 February 1917 and nominated as next-of-kin his English born mother, then living at 119 Hawthorne Road, Cashmere. He left Christchurch on 7 March 1917. The men had mustered at King Edward Barracks, where they were addressed by the Mayor of Christchurch. The C.Y.C. and C.D.C. bands accompanied the draft as they marched to the station, where they boarded a special train for Lyttelton. An exceptionally large crowd gathered at the station to cheer the departing men; and perhaps Aubrey’s relatives were among those who travelled to Lyttelton to wave good-bye from the wharf.
Rifleman A. E. Thompson embarked with the New Zealand Rifle Brigade of the 25th Reinforcements on the “Turakina” on 26 April 1917 from Wellington, destined for Plymouth, England. He had been transferred from the rank of private to that of rifleman the week before. Loaded with infantry reinforcements on its only voyage as a troopship, the “Turakina” set sail in the company of another troopship, “Tofua”. Together they carried 2127 soldiers and crew. The route took in Sydney, Fremantle, Durban, Cape Town and Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. At Durban teams from the two ships played a rugby game, the “Turakina” side winning 9-3. This was one of the last troopships to take the route across the Indian Ocean. His time with the forces was to be abruptly cut short. An entry in The Klink, the magazine of the soldiers on the “Turakina”, records that one soldier did not survive the voyage. “It was not given to Private A E Thomson [sic] to reach the battlefield, to take part in the glory and pomp of war; but he died none the less in the execution of his duty, and in answer to his country’s call.” The soldier was buried at sea after a “touching and beautiful service”. Aubrey Thompson was admitted to the ship’s hospital on 28 May, just a month into his journey. He died of sickness – brocho-pneumonia - on 28 May 1917, at sea, in the Indian Ocean, on his way to the United Kingdom, aged 35 years. The official cause of death was recorded as pneumonia and heart failure. Initially it was reported that he had died of wounds. He was buried at sea at 8am the following day. The obituary in The Klink concludes: “Our comrade’s grave is marked only by the Southern Cross, his sole requiem is the call of the wheeling sea-bird, his sleep is in the everlasting waters.”
A memorial stone to Aubrey E. Thompson, of the 25th Reinforcements, is placed on his parents’ grave in the Linwood Cemetery, Christchurch. The name of 49026 A. E. Thompson is engraved on the Canterbury Provincial Memorial in Christchurch, one of 33 servicemen of the First World War remembered here. This memorial which consists of a low block with a tall spire rising from the centre is sited in Ruru Cemetery, Christchurch. On the front face of the memorial is the inscription “1914-1918 ON THIS PANEL ARE THE NAMES OF THOSE MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES WHO ENLISTED IN THIS DISTRICT WHO DIED IN THE SERVICE OF THEIR COUNTRY IN AND AROUND NEW ZEALAND OR EN ROUTE TO OVERSEAS SERVICE AND TO WHOM THE FORTUNES OF WAR DENIED A KNOWN AND HONOURED GRAVE 1914-1918”. Aubrey is not forgotten by his first school – his name is inscribed on the Pleasant Point School War Memorial.
The British War Medal was sent to his mother. His mother made a claim for pay due to her deceased soldier son. The consent was signed by all the brothers and sisters of Aubrey. It was in 1940 that the Public Trustee elected to administer the estate of Aubrey Edward Thompson. There was a £78 share in the estate of Robert Hepple Robson, a farmer who died in 1907, likely a brother of Aubrey’s mother. His sister Margaret Hepple Thompson who served as a nurse in World War One, died in 1921, her death resulting from war service. A younger brother, Eric Dudley Thompson born in 1893 at Rakaia also served in World War One.
Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [21 September 2013]; NZ Defence Force Personnel Records (Archives NZ Ref. AABK18805 W5553 0113623) [11 April 2014]; CWGC [21 September 2013]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs); Timaru Herald, 14 May 1913, 18 June 1917, Star, 15 May 1913, 12 January 1917, 18 June 1917, Sun, 12 January 1917, 8 March 1917, Press, 8 March 1917, 18 June 1917, Evening Post, 16 June 1917, Ashburton Guardian, 16 June 1917, Otago Daily Times, 18 June 1917, Otago Daily Times, 18 June 1917, Hawera & Normanby Star, 18 June 1917 (Papers Past) [13 & 15 December 2015; 18 & 21 August 2017]; Probate record (Archives NZ/FamilySearch) [16 June 2016] ]; 100 Kiwi Stories: Journals recount voyage to war (extracts from “The Klink”, NZ Herald, 18 December 2014) [18 August 2017]; School Admission records (South Canterbury Branch NZSG) [21 August 2017]; Linwood Cemetery, Christchurch, headstone transcription (South Canterbury Branch NZSG cemetery records) [21 August 2017]; Linwood Cemetery, Christchurch headstone image (Find A Grave) [21 August 2017]; Linwood Cemetery burial records (Christchurch City Council) [22 August 2017]; Image of Canterbury Provincial Memorial (New Zealand War Graves Project) ; NZ Electoral Rolls (ancestry.com.au) [21 August 2017
Researched and Written by
Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG
Currently Assigned to
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License unless otherwise stated.
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