GUNNER THOMAS HANSON
AUSTRALIAN FIELD ARTILLERY
7TH NOVEMBER 1917 AGE 27
BURIED: THE HUTS CEMETERY, YPRES, BELGIUM
Thomas Hanson's mother wanted to demonstrate her son's consideration towards her in the inscription she chose for his headstone. Presumably he had expressed these fears to her, fearing how she would cope with his death.
Hanson, a sheep overseer whose family emigrated to Australia sometime after the 1901 census, enlisted in October 1916. He reached Britain in July 1917, embarked for France in September and was killed in October.
On 22 March 1918, Driver FJ Brophy told the Red Cross Enquiry Bureau:
"I did not see the casualty, but I saw his dead body soon after it happened. He was unloading a waggon just in front of Zillebeke, when he was caught by a piece of shell, which entered his back and went through his heart, death was instantaneous. I knew him very well, he was the only man of this name in the battery."
Gunner AS Miller reported on 8 March 1918:
"I saw him killed at the Half-way House, near Ypres. He was caught by pieces of shell which hit him about the chest, death being instantaneous. He had not been with the battery very long, as he was a new reinforcement."
And how did Thomas Hanson's mother cope with his death? In May 1920 she sailed to England from where she went to France to visit his grave, something very few Australian mothers would have been able to afford to do.
It's strange how you can build up a picture of a person - and be wrong. I had Mrs Hanson down as a poor widow and Thomas as her only son. Thomas was her only son but Mrs Hanson was a remarried divorcee. The information comes from a reply to a letter the army authorities had written asking for clarification about Thomas Hanson's father. Her new husband replied:
"I have to inform you that the father of the late soldier is still alive, as far as I know, but am absolutely ignorant of his address. I also have to inform you that Mrs Hanson divorced her husband some years ago and has been married to me since then."
Mr FW Gregory 24 May 1920