Thomas Edward Hilder
Serial No. 1813
20th Battalion & 56th Battalion
Thomas Edward Hilder - Information
When Thomas decided to enlist in the AIF, he was living in Milton Park, Ingleburn with his family. He was born in Picton in 1894 to Thomas James and Eliza Naomi Hilder. Growing up, Thomas attended Sydney Grammar School and served in the School Cadets. He eventually found gainful employment as an accountant, before deciding to serve his country. He enlisted in the AIF in Liverpool on the 15th of June 1915. During training, Thomas was made a Private with the 20th Battalion. He was then sent overseas departing Sydney on the HMAT Kanowna on the 19th of June 1915.
Thomas landed in Egypt and shortly left to join his unit at Gallipoli on the 16th of August. He fought alongside his mates in the terrible conditions in the trenches, with horrendous heat and a fierce blizzard towards the end of the year. The stalemate proved too costly, and the campaign was soon called off. As the troops were waiting on Lemnos Island, Thomas reported to a Field Ambulance at Mudros in January 1916 with influenza. He was then admitted to the 27th General Hospital in Egypt. Developing enteric fever in February, he spent time in the 21st General Hospital in Alexandria, the 1st Australian General Hospital and then the 3rd Auxiliary Hospital in Heliopolis. In March, he was posted for duty in Ghezireh and taken to the 5th Training Battalion in Tel-el-Kebir. He was then transferred to the 56th Battalion at Ferry Post in April. He was shipped out from Alexandria on the 19th of June, landing in Marseilles at the end of the month. After a quiet introduction to the fighting conditions on the Western Front, the Battalion was put into position for the Battle of Fromelles on the 19th of July. The attack was designed as a diversion to occupy German forces from the Somme Offensive. It was a disaster. It devastated the unit, as the troops were in disarray running into heavy machine gun crossfire, resulting in many casualties. The men in Thomasâ unit were shaken and had to maintain frontline defences for some time. During which he was appointed Lance Corporal on the 27th of August 1916. Towards the end of the year, the weather turned bitterly cold, making life in the trenches miserable and fighting difficult in the mud. Thomas then reported sick on the 1st of November with shell shock and exposure. Five days later, the 8th Field Ambulance took him to the 6th General Hospital near Flers. A week later, the infection grew worse, as his left lung became completely consolidated with fluid. He died of pneumonia at 10:40pm on the 14th of November. Staff buried him in the St Sever Cemetery in France. The Hilders were sorrowfully sent the telegram informing them of the terrible news.