(Service number 7/1421)
|First Rank||Trooper||Last Rank||Farrier|
|Date||8 June 1890||Place of Birth||Co Wicklow, Ireland|
|Date||12 June 1915||Age||25|
|Address at Enlistment||21 Avenue Rd, Timaru|
|Previous Military Experience||8th Regiment NZ Mounted Rifles|
|Next of Kin||Mrs Susan Sutton (mother), 21 Avenue Rd, Timaru|
|Medical Information||5 foot 9 inches tall, weight 140 pounds (64kgs), chest 35-371/2 inches, fair complexion, grey eyes, brown hair, fairly good teeth|
|Served with||NZ Armed Forces||Served in||Army|
|Body on Embarkation||6th reinforcements|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship||Canterbury Mounted Rifles|
|Date||14 August 1915|
|Embarked From||Wellington, New Zealand||Destination||Suez, Egypt|
|Other Units Served With||No 2 Veterinary Corps|
|Last Unit Served With||No 2 Veterinary Corps|
|Campaigns||Egypt, Balkans (Gallipoli), Egyptian Expeditionary Force|
|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|
|Date||16 October 1919||Reason||No longer physically fit for war service on account of illness contracted on active service|
Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses
Suffered badly from maleria - many admissions over his Egyptian service whilst serving in the Sinai & Pallestine
|Date||14 March 1973||Age||82 years|
|Place of Death||Christchurch, New Zealand|
|Notices||Dept of Internal Affairs 3 Apr 1973|
|Memorial or Cemetery||Ruru Lawn Cemetery Christchurch|
|Memorial Reference||Block 20, Plot 192|
|New Zealand Memorials|
Thomas was born at County Wicklow in Ireland, on 8 June 1890, the eldest son of Henry John and Susan Emily (nee Fitzroy) Sutton. Henry was born at Ballinteskin, Wicklow, Ireland, in 1864, and died at the Adelaide Hospital, Dublin South, Ireland in 1897. Susan was born about 1865 at Dublin, Ireland, and died at Timaru in 1951. After her husband’s death, Susan had brought the family of three children out to New Zealand about 1905, and settled at 21 Avenue Road, Timaru. In 1905 she married her late husband’s brother, James Benjamin Sutton. James had been previously married to Letitia Beecher, whom he had ten children with.
Thomas was educated at the Waimataitai and Timaru Main Schools, and had later took up the farrier trade. Thomas volunteered for service and was medically boarded at Timaru on 7 May 1915 by Doctor Dryden. At this time he was working in his trade for Mr JC Trengrove at Sefton Street, Timaru, and was living with his mother at 21 Avenue Road. He had also had some previous military experience as a Territorial member of the 8th Regiment NZ Mounted Rifles. Thomas enlisted on 12 June 1915, and after a civic send off, left Timaru for Trentham with the local volunteers. He nominated his mother Susan as his next of kin. His enlistment papers described him as being single, Anglican, aged 25, 5 foot 9 inches in height, weighing 140 pounds (64kgs), with a chest measuring 35–37 ½ inches, fair complexion, grey eyes, brown hair, and that his teeth were fairly good. On arrival at Trentham he was posted to G Squadron, Canterbury Mounted Rifles, and issued with his clothing, rifle and bayonet. Now began a life of living in old ex Zulu War bell tents - 8 to 12 men sleeping in a wheel formation, with their feet pointing in towards the centre. 10 weeks of intensive infantry training followed learning basic drills, shooting, bayonet fighting, map reading etc, along with plenty of hard physical exercise. It was not all hard work as there was the odd spot of swimming in the local river, leave in Wellington, and inter unit sports. In their final weeks of training they took part in manoeuvres to practice what they had learned in training. Now ready for posting overseas, the men were issued with their full uniform and granted a short period of embarkation leave.
The men marched from Trentham through some of the streets of Wellington, then on to the harbour where the transports HMNZT28 “Tofua” and HMNZT29 “Willochra” awaited the 2,363 troops (including some NZ nurses). On 14 August 1915, Trooper Sutton boarded SS “Tofua” and began the journey to Suez, Egypt, in convoy with “Willochra”. They had a stop at Albany where they had a route march to stretch their legs, then on to Colombo for refuelling. During the voyage they continued with cleaning, exercise, and rifle drills. Boxing was a popular sport aboard, one which all could take part with the men being matched with others of the same size and ability. The ships passed through the Red Sea to Port Suez, arriving on 19 September 1915. From here they took the train to the training base at Zeitoun where training continued day and night.
The Canterbury Mounted Rifles (CMR) already on Gallipoli had suffered many casualties, and were in desperate need of reinforcements. On 3 October Trooper Sutton joined what was left of his unit at Mudros, where they were having some well-earned rest from the peninsula. Just over a month later the CMR embarked on HMT “Osmanich” to return to Anzac Cove, taking up positions in Waterfall Gully. Then, on 27 November, they relieved the Suffolk Yeomanry, a part of the 162nd Brigade, on the northern side of the Aghyl Dere. By now the decision had been taken to evacuate the peninsula but the troops still had the storms, snow, poor food, and the Turks to put up with for another few weeks, having a miserable time of it. Finally between 15 and 20 December, the evacuation of 36,000 troops was successfully carried out. The final party of CMR left during the night of December 19/20 for Lemnos, and embarked on HMT “Hororata” for Alexandria on 22 December. New Zealand lost 2,779 men during the campaign, about one sixth of those who fought there.
Trooper Sutton disembarked at Alexandra on Boxing Day 1915, returning by train to the camp at Zeitoun. Training resumed here until on 23 January 1916, when they took up a new defensive position on the Suez Canal, moving to the front line at the railhead at Ferrypost on March 7. In early April the CMR were relieved by the Australian troops and rode back to Serapeum, and were back in Moascar on 6 April. On 14 April 1916, Thomas was transferred as a Farrier to Number 2 Mobile Veterinary Unit. This unit was to serve in the Sinai and Palestine with the Anzac Mounted Division where they did sterling work with the horses which were at first scattered over Egypt, but became concentrated for the Sinai campaign. Like many of the troops, Thomas was to suffer badly with malaria over the next two years, and spent much of the time undergoing hospital treatment at various hospitals throughout the Sinai and Palestine area.
When the war had drawn to a close, Thomas boarded the transport ship “Kaikoura” at Suez on 3 March 1919, as part of Return Draft 230, for his return home to New Zealand. They arrived at Wellington on 17 April 1919, where he was granted leave and probably underwent further treatment, before being discharged, on 16 October 1919, as no longer physically fit for war service on account of illness contracted on active service (malaria). Having served a long war of four years and 127 days, Thomas was later presented with the 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal. In 1967 he was one of the men who were finally presented with some recognition of their Gallipoli service with the Gallipoli Lapel Badge and Medallion.
After the war he married Miss Maida Annie Rankielor McDiarmid on 10 August 1920. From 1928 to 1946 the couple lived at 203 Ferry Road, Christchurch, where Thomas worked as a blacksmith. The from 1957 to 1969 they were at 35 Totara Road, Stanmore Bay, Auckland. By 1972, they were back in Christchurch living at 24 Pacific Road, Avon, Christchurch. It was here Thomas died on 14 March 1973, aged 82 years, and was buried in the Ruru Lawn Cemetery. His wife was buried with Thomas when she died in 1993.
A brother, 57278 Lance Corporal Henry John Sutton, also served in Western Europe with the Otago Infantry Regiment.
Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [June 2019]; 'Troopers from Egypt' (returning draft 230) in the Timaru Herald 2 April 1919 courtesy of Papers Past at https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/
No documents available.
Researched and Written by
Teresa Scott, SC branch NZSG, Ted Hansen, SC branch NZSG
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