On Tuesday, 12 March 2019 we honoured Sapper Tom Sawyer at a Last Post Ceremony.
Tom was born in 1886 in Somerset, England to mother Sarah Ann Sawyer. He was 39 years old working as a miner when he enlisted to the AIF – Australian Imperial Forces – in Darwin in December of 1915.
In January 1917 Tom left for war aboard the RMS Omrah from Melbourne, Victoria where he joined the 1st Australian Tunnelling Company.
The primary role of the Tunnelling Companies was to construct tunnels and mines for offensive and defensive action against the enemy, as well as construction of saps, cable trenches and chambers, and the underground dugouts for troop accommodation, many of which accommodated whole battalions of 1,000 men.
During his service Tom was mortally wounded in Belgium and admitted to hospital with severe burns to his hands, head, neck and face. On the 25th of September 1917, he died of his wounds.
Tom is buried in the Etaples Military Cemetery in Pas de Calais, France and his family name will forever be remembered in Sawyer Street, Darwin.
His name is listed on the Cenotaph, amongst fellow Territorians who died while serving. His is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice to be told at the Cenotaph.