Thomas Percy Arnold

Memorial: Chipping Sodbury Town Cross - Broad Street

Regiment: Australian Imperial Forces

Medals: British War Medal, Next of Kin Memorial Plaque 1914 - 1921, Victory Medal

Rank and number: Corporal 1908

Parents: Richard Wickham and Sarah Ann Arnold

Marital status: Married

Home address: Bank House, High Street, Chipping Sodbury, Bristol

Pre-war occupation: Draper in Chipping Sodbury, then in Melborne

Date of birth: 1887

Date of death: 10/05/1917

Buried/Commemorated at: The Australian National Memorial, Villers Bretonneux

Age: 30

Further information:

5th Battalion, Australian Infantry. Wounded at Gallipoli, 1915

His mother died young in March 1889, just a few months after giving birth to Thomas. Thomas’ father died in September 1910, at the age of 63, four years before the outbreak of WW1. Thomas must have been raised by his grandfather, and other relatives nearby, namely his own older brother Albert. Albert with his young wife and two children lived above Arnold’s in Broad Street.

Thomas ‘Enlisted for Service Abroad’, in January 1915, he was in Melbourne, Australia. He was a single man of 27, continuing as a draper in Melbourne as he had been from the outset of his working life in Chipping Sodbury. His older brother Albert Richard (whom he had named as his next-of-kin before embarking on his return voyage), was still a grocer in Broad Street. Albert and the returning Thomas may well have shared the same business premises when they started work in the family firm years back, as there were two large Arnolds stores in Chipping Sodbury. One was along Broad Street and one was in the High Street, from before the turn of the previous century.

Thomas Arnold’s voyage back from Australia was delayed by having to detour across the Mediterranean in support of the allies and his fellow-Anzac troops fighting in the Dardanelles in that blistering summer heat of 1915. The Turks already held the cliff tops on both sides of the narrow inlet, so were able to inflict major losses on newly arriving troops. There was intense fighting by the British with colonial allies and Anzacs together, determined to dislodge the Turks from this peninsula, a key strategic location which separated Europe from Asia. There was a massive number of losses, amounting to a 70% casualty rate. Cpl Arnold himself sustained a minor head injury on 27th August 1915, only 2 days after arriving there. He was one of the few very lucky ones, for after only a few days in a Field Hospital, he was discharged back to his Unit to fight another day

It was at the 2nd Battle of Bullecourt in the northern part of the Somme battlefields, that Corporal Thomas Arnold reached the end of his war. He fought for the last time with many hundred other Australians, tasked together with bringing the aftermath of the Battle of the Somme to a final conclusion

The Australian National Memorial commemorated no fewer than the nearly 11,000 soldiers of the Australian Imperial Force who fell in battle over here, just in those two years 1916–1918 and have no known grave. This Memorial was in fact the last of the First War memorials, and was unveiled by King George V1 and Queen Elizabeth in 1938, just before the outbreak of the next world-wide conflagration. Created on the ridge of the site of so much Anzac action, it is known affectionately as “Villers Bret” among the thousands of young backpacking Australians still doing Europe every summer. Thomas Percy is remembered on the Chipping Sodbury and District War Memorial Cottage Hospital board

By kind permission, this information is based on the following source(s):

Alison Benton (2014) Remembered with Honour. Sprint Print, Yate and Forces War Records