100 Years

1918 - 2018

Marking the end of World War I

Harold Thom - My Father

By Shirley Whiteway

In 1916 my father, Harold Thom enlisted in the South African Scottish Regiment. He fought in the Battle of Delville Wood, France and the Somme where 250,000 souls perished in the first fifteen minutes of bloody fighting.

An abandoned German trench in Delville Wood, France, 1916An abandoned German trench in Delville Wood, France, 1916Imperial War Museums collection photograph Q 4267Harold was shot and seriously wounded by a German sniper, but he managed to bayonet the German in the stomach and my father survived.

For two years my father could not speak and he was cared for by nurses in a Southampton Hospital in England. One day on a walk along the beach, one of the nurses called to him and said, “Here Harry, Catch,” as she threw him an orange. With the shock of catching the orange, he said, “Thank you” and his speech returned.

Dad returned home to South Africa but he didn’t recover fully from the war until he was 33 after he came to Australia and worked up north on horseback on the rabbit proof fence. Later he met and married my mother. I became the second youngest of five boys and two girls.

Shirley Whiteway, 2018

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