Record of war

Neil Kidd and Jenny Quartermaine look at war memorabilia.
Neil Kidd and Jenny Quartermaine look at war memorabilia.

Growing up hearing of Thomas from his father, Mr Kidd’s fascination with his great-uncle’s story grew after hearing about his diary at the Fremantle Anzac Day exhibition in 2011.

Years of research ensued, culminating in the creation of the young adult novella Uncle Tom’s Diary, a fictional recount of his experiences during war and how he and his family learnt to deal with the horrors and secrets upon his return.

Bringing Thomas’s story back to Fremantle just metres from where he boarded the HMAT Mashobra for war, Mr Kidd said Thomas had given some amazing first-person accounts of the Battle of Gallipoli.

‘There is a story of a Turkish prisoner helping one of Tom’s men get back to their trenches because they were in No Man’s Land and realised they were about to be overrun by the Turks,’ he said.

‘Tom wrote many letters from the Boer War, Gallipoli and Egypt but we are personally left with only a single postcard sent during his war service.

‘Sadly it was written on April 25, 1915, to his elder son, telling him to ‘kiss little Jackie for me’.

‘His younger son Jack succumbed to pleurisy several months later and Tom found out as he was preparing to go over the top in the disastrous charge at the Nek.’

Leeming resident and Thomas’s granddaughter Jenny Quartermaine said at first she had been a little protective of the family stories, with a several authors requesting information from the family, but researching and sharing stories with Mr Kidd was more personal.

‘Granddad’s story is important and I know from the contacts by the other authors mentioned above that his diaries, insights and his integrity have been valued,’ she said.

‘There are many books written on Gallipoli, diaries and biographies printed but I think this novella provides a link between the atrocities of Gallipoli, the post-war struggle of Tom Kidd and the impact on family around him, including the next generation.’

Uncle Tom’s Diary will be launched at the City of Fremantle Anzac Day Commemorative Exhibition from noon at the Fremantle Town Hall on April 25.

Visit the website www.awm.gov.|au/people/P10675897 to learn more about Thomas Anderson Kidd and see his diary.