Thomas Fernley

June 23, 2015

FERNLEY, Thomas- – – – SPC 1914

DoB:- – 1899, Bendigo, VIC

Father:– – William Fernley

Mother:- – Mary Ellen, nee Sexton

Thomas was a boarder at St Patrick’s from Bendigo.

Regimental No:– 17042 (UK)

Rank:– – Private

Unit:– – 1st Battalion, Devonshire Regiment (British Forces)

Thomas Fernley would have been 15 years of age when the war began. His older brother William enlisted in August 1915 aged 34 years and 11 months (Service No 3427). William was unmarried and nominated his young brother Thomas as his next of kin. The College is unsure what happened to the father, William Fernley, but Mary Ellen’s death certificate shows she died in November 1900 due to a -‘uterine haemorrhage at six months’. It would appear that Mary Ellen miscarried a pregnancy at six months and there were complications that lead to her death.- Thomas would have been about one year old at that time.

In William’s service record there is a letter from a family friend, Miss Maria Knox which indicated that while William had enlisted with the AIF, Thomas had gone abroad to sign up. Thomas indeed enlisted in the British forces, and it is likely that he went overseas in an effort to conceal his true age. He also enlisted as Fernley Thomas, which made finding any record of his war service very difficult.

Tragically, Thomas Fernley was killed in action in France on 9 May 1917. He was 18 years old. Thomas is remembered at the Arras Memorial, France.