Diary delivers Digger’s insight

Neil Kidd and Jenny Quartermaine with memorabilia from Thomas Kidd’s time at war. Picture: Martin Kennealey www.communitypix.com.au d417700
Neil Kidd and Jenny Quartermaine with memorabilia from Thomas Kidd’s time at war. Picture: Martin Kennealey www.communitypix.com.au d417700

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 novella Uncle Tom’s Diary, a fictional recount of some of Thomas’s experiences during war and how he and his family learnt to deal with the horrors and secrets on 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 what the Battle of Gallipoli was like.

‘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 number of authors requesting information from the family, but researching and sharing stories with Mr Kidd was more personal.

‘I think grandad’s story is an important one and I know from the contacts by the other authors 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, April 25. Visit www.awm.gov.au/people/P10675897.