BATTEN, Thomas Bossence
Australian Rank: Private Australian Infantry
A.I.F. 26th Battalion
Date of death 29 July 1916
Service No. 1718
Thomas Henry Bossence Batten was born in Tollesbury around 1898, the son of Thomas John Bossence Batten and Alice Ada Batten née Sparrow.
Thomas John Bossence Batten was son of Thomas John Batten (born Saltash Cornwall c1847 and Chief Coastguard at Tollesbury), and Amelia Emily Batten née Bossence (born Deal c1847). It was this Thomas who had brought the Batten family to Tollesbury in 1891. He was born at Saltash in Cornwall in 1847. Thomas John Batten served as a Coastguard at Deal, Kent, in 1881 and then from 1891 at Tollesbury. He became Chief Coastguard at Tollesbury. Thomas John Batten had married Amelia Emily Bossence, who was from Margate, Kent.
Young Thomas's address was given as Commerce House, Tollesbury Essex. He attended school at Tollesbury Council school and then joined the Merchant Navy working as a baker for the White Star Line. He made his first visit to Australia in 1914 in the White Star liner DEMOSTHENES. June 1915, while the DEMOSTHENES was in Brisbane, he enlisted in the Australian Army, having first asked for permission from the ship, which was granted. He gave his reason for joining up: "he thought he was not doing enough for his King & Country."
Thomas took part in the Gallipoli campaign and was wounded on October 31st 1915. After he recovered, he volunteered for the machine gun section and went to France with the Anzacs in March 1916. Tom Batten was always of and happy disposition and made friends wherever he went. In one of his last letters he said that he never regretted joining the Army but would be glad when the war was over and he could come home.
The 26th Battalion was raised at Enoggera, Queensland, in April 1915 from recruits enlisted in Queensland and Tasmania, and formed part of the 7th Brigade. It left Australia in July, and, after training in Egypt, landed at Gallipoli on 12 September. At Gallipoli, the 26th played a purely defensive role and at various times was responsible for the defence of Courtney's and Steele's Posts, and Russell's Top. It withdrew from the peninsula on 12 December.
After another stint in Egypt, the 7th Brigade proceeded to France as part of the 2nd Australian Division in March 1916 In concert with the 28th Battalion, the 26th mounted the first trench raid undertaken by Australian troops on the Western Front on 6 June. The Battalion fought in its first major battle around Pozières between 28 July and 7 August 1916 part of the great Battle of the Somme.
Below is a Memorial Card
Medals: 1914-15 Star, 1914-1920 British War Medal, Victory Medal
Australian Imperial Force papers indicate Thomas was issued with Victory Medal 17107, inscribed and issued by Australia House
Thomas is commemorated in St. Mary's Parish Church, Tollesbury, and at Villers-Brettoneux Memorial, Somme, France.
Commonwealth War Dead Memorial: VILLERS - BRETONNEUX MEMORIAL
Villers-Bretonneux became famous in 1918, when the German advance on Amiens ended in the capture of the village by their tanks and infantry on 23 April. On the following day, the 4th and 5th Australian Divisions, with units of the 8th and 18th Divisions, recaptured the whole of the village and on 8 August 1918, the 2nd and 5th Australian Divisions advanced from its eastern outskirts in the Battle of Amiens. The VILLERS-BRETONNEUX MEMORIAL is the Australian national memorial erected to commemorate all Australian soldiers who fought in France and Belgium during the First World War, to their dead, and especially to those of the dead whose graves are not known. The 10,770 Australian servicemen actually named on the memorial died in the battlefields of the Somme, Arras, the German advance of 1918 and the Advance to Victory. The memorial was unveiled by King George VI in July 1938. The memorial stands within VILLERS-BRETONNEUX MILITARY CEMETERY, which was made after the Armistice when graves were brought in from other burial grounds in the area and from the battlefields.
Both cemetery and memorial were designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.
Original text is from Ted Sparrow in If You Shed a Tear Part 1, and as a Memorial Profile.
May 2020 web version based on Memorial Profile. The family background was rewritten based on extra information now available via the Appleton family. Victory Medal was replaced as Appleton papers give details of medals issued.