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Walter Babington Thomas

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Portrait from The Weekly News; 2 July 1941 - This image may be subject to copyright

Portrait from The Weekly News; 2 July 1941 - This image may be subject to copyright

Identity

  • Title
  • Forenames
    Walter Babington AWMM
  • Surname
    Thomas AWMM
  • Ingoa
  • Also known as
    Sandy AWMM
  • Service number
    WWII 9234 AWMM
  • Gender
    Male AWMM
  • Iwi
  • Hapū
  • Waka
  • Rohe
  • Religion

Civilian life

About birth

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  • Birth
    2 April 1905 AWMM MotuekaTasman AWMM
  • Date of birth
    29 June 1919 Public - Debbie - Other relative - 24 June 2021 - Births Deaths Marriages NZ website
  • Place of birth
  • Birth notes
  • Address before enlistment
    WW2 Unknown AWMM Motueka, Nelson, New Zealand AWMM
  • Post war occupation
  • Next of kin on embarkation
    WW2 Mr W.H. Thomas (father), Debadoon, Riwaka, Nelson, New Zealand AWMM
  • Relationship status
    Single AWMM

Service

Wars and conflicts

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Military decorations

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  • Medals and Awards
    • Companion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath (CB) AWMM
    • Companion of the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) AWMM
      National Archives, WO 373/25/319. "During the attack on Takrouna on the night of 19/20 April 1943, the Battalion Commander was wounded early and major Thomas assumed command. The leading companies had come under heavy fire while advancing to their start line for the Brigade second objective. There had been numerous casualties from anti-personnel mines and there was a considerable confusion and uncertainty. Despite this and the unexpected necessity of having to fight for the start line, Major Thomas by his personal example and splendid leadership quickly had the Battalion reorganized and making its way forward in fierce close fighting. With great difficulty the start line was reached and then as further advance was impossible Major Thomas quickly seized the essential ground and established and firmly held a tenable position deep within the enemy lines. As a result of this bold and determined action large numbers of the enemy were killed or captured after daylight. Throughout the difficult day of April 20 when for many hours the Battalion was isolated, Major Thomas continued to exhibit high qualities of leadership and when relieved was still holding the vital ground he had gained. Throughout he showed tactical ability of the highest order, a quickly offensive spirit and an infectious enthusiasm and cheerfulness which were an inspiration to his Battalion." AWMM
    • Silver Star (USA) AWMM
    • Mentioned in Despatches (MiD) AWMM
    • Military Cross and bar (MC*) AWMM
      9 September 1942 AWMM
      The National Archives. Recommendation for Award for Thomas, Walter Babington. (Ref. WO 373/27/503). Military Cross.“Lieutenant Thomas showed great initiative, gallantry and devotion to duty, in that he on 20 May in the Maleme area led his platoon in attack on enemy parachute troops who had landed and established themselves in a strong position. His platoon accounted for 25 enemy dead and 3 prisoners. Of this number Lieutenant Thomas personally killed five. On the following day, when our position was being shelled by a captured Bofors gun, he brought into action an enemy mortar. Firing it personally, he gained a direct hit on the gun and put it out of action; he then bombed the aerodrome with good effect. On May 25 in a counter attack on Galatos village Lieutenant Thomas led his platoon with great gallantry and vigour and working in conjunction with Lieutenant King, was responsible for the success of the counter attack. Throughout the operations in Crete until he was wounded Lieutenant Thomas was an inspiration to his men, setting an example of cheerfulness, initiative and courage, seldom surpassed.” The National Archives. Recommendation for Award for Thomas, Walter Babington. (Ref. WO 373/27/503). Bar to Military Cross. AWMM

Training and Enlistment

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Prisoner of war

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  • Capture details
    WW2
    Crete, Greece AWMM
    1941 AWMM
  • Days interned
  • Liberation date
  • Liberation Repatriation
  • POW liberation details
  • POW serial number

Medical history

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  • Medical notes

Last known rank

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  • Last rank

Biographical information

Biographical information

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  • Transferred after the war to Royal Hampshire Regiment

    Lt-Col W. B. Thomas, DSO, MC and bar, m.i.d., Silver Star (US); London; born Nelson, 29 Jun 1918; bank officer; CO 23 Bn 1944-45; twice wounded; wounded and p.w. May 1941; escaped Nov 1941; returned to unit May 1942; Hampshire Regt, 1947-. (Source: Borman, C.A. Divisional Signals. p.370.)

    'From the many working parties at Salonika and from the main camp itself right up to the end of its existence, numbers of prisoners, including many New Zealanders, made breaks for freedom. Some got away and were recaptured several times, only to be finally taken off to Germany; others made their way to Turkey and eventual freedom. Two parties got out through a camp sewer. An officer (Lt W. B. Thomas) cut his way through a barrack backdoor and, dodging the camp searchlights, crawled through the wire and scaled a wall into the street; another party of twelve used a similar route a little later. Once in Salonika they were almost always able to rely on temporary help from Greeks, though it was not always possible to trust all civilians or police, many of whom were not unnaturally fearful of German punishment. An MI9 organisation was set up in Salonika as well as in Athens to collect parties of escapers and evaders and arrange for them to be got away by caique. He was awarded the MC for this escape.' (Source: Mason, W.W. Prisoners of War. pp. 80, 81.) AWMM
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Death

About death

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  • Death
    22 October 2017 AWMM
    Australia AWMM
  • Date of death
  • Age at death
  • Place of death
  • Cause of death
  • Death notes
  • Cemetery
  • Cemetery name
  • Grave reference
  • Obituary
  • Memorial name
  • Memorial reference

Memorials

Memorial

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  • Memorial name

Roll of Honour

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Sources

Sources

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Contributors

Command item
Command item
Add new record Refresh
DateFirst namesLocationRelationshipContact
18 February 2022KelvinNorfolk, EnglandResearcher
24 June 2021DebbieChristchurchOther relative
26 April 2019José Miguel L. SpainResearcher
17 September 2017JeniferWairarapaResearcher

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