The Soldier's Details
- First Name:
- Thomas Hugh
- Nick Name:
- Regimental #:
- Despatch Rider
- 'D' Company, Platoon No. 14 (at Singapore switched to No. 16 Platoon)
- Place of Birth:
- Holyhead, Wales
- Father's Name:
- Richard Lewis
- Mothers's Name:
- Margaret Anne Lewis
- Church of England
- Pre-war Occupation:
- Selarang Camp Changi, A.G.H. Roberts Barracks Changi, Selarang Barracks Changi, Changi Gaol Camp
- Return Details 1945:
- Singapore-Darwin-Sydney, HMT Arawa, Sydney-Melbourne by troop train, Melbourne-Fremantle, HMT Strathmore.
Tom Lewis enlisted AIF 6 Aug 1940. He later joined 2/4th MGB – ‘D’ Coy No. 14 Platoon as a Despatch Rider. Mates from Northam Army Training Camp who visited the Lewis family home regularly included his old school mate Bill Attenborough, Fotheringham (‘B’ Coy Rangetaker) and George Glass, Driver with Battalion HQ.
Glass was AWOL at Fremantle, failing to re-board ‘Aquitania’ before sailing for Singapore, he sailed later and in fact went to Java. Glass went on to work on the Burma end of the Railway. It is not known whether Lewis and Glass saw each other in Singapore. It is probably not likely.
At Singapore a decision was made to create a further machine gun platoon – Tom Lewis was switched to No. 16 Platoon, with Commanding Officer Sgt Arberry (formerly 13 Platoon). Also in No. 16 Platoon was one of his best mates Bill Attenborough (from 15 Platoon).
Tom was shell shocked at 14/2/1942. He was evacuated to Australian General Hospital at Roberts Barracks Changi on 18/11/1942 with an early case of encephalitis caused by mosquitos.
Fotheringham and Attenborough sailed to Sandakan, Borneo and lost their lives.
‘Tommy’ Lewis took up boxing at Northam Camp. In fact he became light weight champion before 2/4th departed for SA.
At the age of 2 years Tommy sailed with his family from London to Albany on the SS ‘Diogenes’ arriving in WA 9 October 1923. His family originated from Angelsey, Wales.
They were placed Group Settlement No. 85 Loc. 2291 on 18 December 1923. The family left this location on 8th June 1925 and took up land in Group 78 on 19 September 1925.
Tommy was one of 3 boys and there was one daughter Gwen.
It was at their local school, Nilup, where Tommy met and became early childhood friends with Bill Attenborough.
When the Lewis family moved to Perth, the children lost contact until Tom and Bill found themselves enlisting into AIF at the same time, and their friendship resumed as it did with their families.
The Lewis family on the farm before moving to Perth. Tommy is holding the horse reins.
Margaret Lewis and her children at their home, Leederville.
Tommy standing 1st Left and Gwen Linto standing centre.
Tommy’s sister Gwen who gave so much care to her brother when he returned from war; Gwen has supported the 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion Ex-Members Association for a very long time and during 2017 made a generous donation to this website for which we are especially grateful.
At hospital in Singapore, Tom was in a coma for nearly 3 weeks with his life hanging in the balance. Dr. Bruce Hunt watched over him and revived him several times. On regaining consciousness, he was unable to talk, walk and knew nothing of his former life. Tom remained hospitalised learning to talk and walk. Muscles of one eye were also effected but it is said that this soldier maintained a bright and happy disposition. The Japanese awarded him an ‘A’ Medical Classification.
After the war Tommy Lewis, John Gilmour and others with eye conditions were accommodated at Lady Lawley Cottage, Cottesloe. John was also hospitalised at Changi and was placed in a bed nearest to Tommy during 1942. February 2018, John recalls he and others spent hours trying to help Tommy regain his speech and memory.
Tom acquired a job at RPH which he continued throughout his life.
Tommy Lewis passed away 12/3/1978 aged 59 years.
- Changi Gaol Camp - Singapore
- Roberts Barracks Changi - Singapore
- Selarang Barracks Changi - Singapore
- Selarang Camp Changi - Singapore