ANZAC #3 – Private Thomas Fulton

Thomas Fulton was born in Sydney in 1882. The son of John and Catherine Fulton, who lived at 640 Bourke Street, in Surrey Hills in Sydney. Thomas was actually born in the wonderfully Australian-named place of Woolloomoo.

Prior to enlisting in the Army he worked as a Bottle Blower, and had not served an apprenticeship, so was a relatively unskilled worker. He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 22 November 1915, at Casula in New South Wales. He was 33 years old, and had not served in the military before. His home address was 26 Cleveland Avenue in Surry Hills. He was quite small at 5ft 4inches tall, weighed 97lbs, had a ruddy complexion, brown eyes with less than perfect vision, was Church of England by religious persuasion, and had a small scar on his left forearm.

Like most ANZAC recruits, Fulton was quickly sent to the Middle East to receive most of his training there. On 18 February 1916 Fulton left Australia, on board the HMAT Ballarat, from Sydney. On 23 March he disembarked at Suez, where he was allocated from the 4th Training Battalion to the 47th Battalion, who were at Serapeum in Egypt. On 2 June the Battalion embarked at Alexandria to join the BEF in France and Belgium, disembarking at Marseilles on 9 June. Thomas Fulton was not in France long before he was taken ill with Scabies. On 24 July he went from the 12th Field Ambulance to the 4th Casualty Clearing Station. After a week’s treatment he returned to his Battalion on 31 July 1916. Scabies was a condition not uncommon on the Western Front, caused by the conditions in which the Scabies mite thrived.

Little more than a week later Fulton was wounded in action during the Battle of the Somme. On 9 August 1916 he received a Gunshot Wound to his leg, and was admitted to the 44th Casualty Clearing Station. The next day he was at the 2nd Australian General Hospital at Wimereux, and two days later he was taken to England onboard the Hospital ship St Denis. By now his wounds were described as a gunshot wound to his foot, and a fractured tibia, presumably caused by the gunshot wound.

On arrival in England he was admitted to the 5th Southern Genrral Hospital in Portsmouth, but his condition did not improve. On 23 August his condition was described as serious, and sadly he died on 24 August 1916, from Tetanus caused by his severe gunshot wound. Tetanus is a disease which is much rarer in the modern world, but could have been contracted through any deep puncture wound. The unsanitary conditions on the Western Front and basic medical care available cannot have helped to keep Fulton’s wound clean.He was buried in Milton Cemetery in Portsmouth. His personal possessions were sent home to Australia, consisting of –

small bag, balaclava, razor, brush and comb, metal mirror, knife, shaving brush, 2 badges, toothbrush, 12 coins, 2 Franc notes.

It seems that after Thomas’s death his father struggled to survive. In 1920 and now living at 721 Bourke Street, he wrote to the Defence Department, pleading for assistance, as Thomas was his only son, and he only had a small Railway Pension to live on. His query was refered to the Deputy Commissioner of Pensions for New South Wales. John Fulton had initially tried to claim a pension based on his sons service in 1917, but had been rejected as he was not seen as a dependant.



Filed under Pompey ANZAC's, western front, World War One

4 responses to “ANZAC #3 – Private Thomas Fulton

  1. John Erickson

    Hey! You left us hanging! What happened to his father?
    Remember, field drugs like sulfa were unknown in World War 1. It was not uncommon for bullets to carry dirt and uniform fibres into wounds. I haven’t read much from the Franco-Prussian war, but the slightly earlier US Civil War is rife with examples of wound contamination from the bullet – granted much easier for the larger, slower-moving rounds of 50-75 calibre to accomplish, versus the more-commonly 30-calibre rounds of WW1. Add in the stagnant water teeming with bacteria, and the omnipresent mud, and it’s no wonder so many wounds turned septic.
    More good stuff, but seriously – how did his father fare?

  2. James Daly

    It’s something I’ve tried to look into John, with little success. I guess the first step would be to find out when Mr. Fulton passed away. Australian family history is not something I’m too strong on, but I do know it is a lot more different than in the UK. Birth, Marriage and Death records vary by state, but in general they arent as easy to get as here. In the UK, for example, you can look up the basic details for free – ie the quarter in which someone died, where, and their age.

    • John Erickson

      No problem, I was just kinda hoping you knew. You’ve already done magnificent work bringing us this much information. Thank you, for us (your humble readers) and for those who can’t speak for themselves anymore.

      • James Daly

        We hope to find out as much as we can, as hopefully that puts us closer to seeing if there are any living relatives who might be able to help, or be interested in attending a ceremony if they can.

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