Four WW1 Clyde Men Who Died Overseas

Thomas Henry Williams  (27)
17 Nov 1889- 18 Apr 1917
The first Clyde resident to die on an overseas battle field
It is uncertain when the telegram arrived at Sarah Ridgway’s home on Ballarto Road in 1917. A few weeks before about mid April 1917 she knew that her son Thomas was wounded and missing. No one in Clyde knew that he had been shot in the chest, suffered serious lung damage and was a German POW.
   Just less than a year before Thomas Henry Williams, 26 years 8 months, had embarked aboard the Ayrshire heading for the Western Front. Short in stature standing 5ft 3in (161.2 cm) he was a farm labourer and lived with his mother Sarah Ridgway (nee Hall) and step father, Thomas “Corrie” Ridgway in Clyde. (Now known as  No 1 Ballarto Road)
    Tragedy had struck Sarah before in 1892. When her son Tom was two years old, his father, Tommy Williams Snr, a jockey, was killed in a race track meeting near Dandenong. At the time Tommy (Snr) and Sarah Williams owned the first Clyde store then situated at Ballarto Road. Eighteen months later, widow Sarah Williams married Thomas Ridgway, son of early settler, Anthony Ridgway.
    Unbeknown to the Clyde community, Tommy Williams Jnr. had actually died on April 18th and was buried in Hamburg  Cemetery, Ohlsdorf, Germany. The news of his death was sent by telegram to his mother and later announced in the Herald newspaper in August 1917.
    A memorial scroll and plaque were sent to Sarah recognising her loss. The Clyde community remembered Tom by listing his name on the Clyde North and District WW1 Honor Roll. The Cranbourne Patriotic Association posthumously awarded him a Certificate of appreciation for fighting over seas.
A year following his death, Mrs Sarah Ridgway presented a photograph of her son Thomas Henry Williams to the newly built Clyde Primary school opened on May 30, 1918.

   Just at the time Clyde folk had heard the news that Tommy Williams (May 1917) was missing and believed injured, none knew that 21 year old Stan Allars from the corner of Muddy Gates lane and Pound Road had been killed. He’d embarked for overseas just a year earlier, May 1916 with his brother Syd. 
  Stan, a very slim and tall lad at 5ft.10in (177.8cm), 132lbs (59.9kg) had been in Clyde for 5 years working on his father’s “Clydesdale” dairy farm. Daily trips carting milk to the Clyde Railway station brought the Allars in contact with other Clyde farmers.
    With their home closer to the Cardinia social life rather that the Clyde Railway Station town activities, the Allars were viewed as being Cardinia people. Son of Alfred Charles and Emily Allars, Stan was one of seven children
Like many soldiers, Stan had trouble with health problems in the Army. While in training he suffered  with influenza and tonsillitis before embarkment.
    Later, while overseas, pneumonia took him out of battle for a month, before returning to France. In Belgium during the Northern Spring, he was wounded on the same day as his brother. Stan had gun shot wounds to both legs, arms and left foot. Older brother Syd was evacuated to England. Stan died the next day, 2nd May 1917.
    His family received a Scroll of Honor from the King along with the memorial plaque known as the  ‘Dead Man’s Penny”
    After serving in France as a ‘ bomb  thrower’ Hedley Howard Thomas answered the call for  stretcher bearers and was accepted. In October, 1917, whilst doing his duty, he was wounded and sent to England. On his return to France, he again volunteered as a stretcher bearer.   
    Being of a sensitive and sympathetic nature, his experiences in attending to the injuries of his broken and shattered companions, imposed a great strain upon him.  While binding the wounds of a comrade he was shot by a sniper and died.
    In his life he demonstrated loyalty, integrity of character, determination to do the right thing with or without the approval of others. He won the respect of fellow soldiers who had many opportunities of testing his worth.  
They said of him' ‘Everyone that knew him respected him. He played his part as one of the best of soldiers and a man’.    'We and many more have reason to be grateful’.

    In 1906 Hedley Howard Thomas, one of seven children, moved with his family from Oakleigh to the south eastern corner of Tuckers and Pattersons Roads.
At 19 Hedley decided in his heart to obey God in all of his life. While this was a public declaration among the Methodist church folk, Hedley expressed this decision better through his life’s actions rather talking about it. 
   Hedley enlisted in September 1915.  At 5ft 8in (172.7cm) he was slightly taller than the average Clyde man, also the heaviest weighing 12 stone (76.2kg). The local newspaper of  22 Aug 1918, reported “The seating accommodation at the Methodist Church was taxed, on Sunday evening, when a large gathering met to do honor to the memory of the late Private Hedley Thomas aged 26“.
    Clyde Methodists relied on visiting preachers for their afternoon services but also attended morning worship in Cranbourne.  Hedley’s name is also recorded on the Cranbourne  Presbyterian’s  Honor Board.

    Better known as George, the only adult son of George Snr and Martha Churchill (nee Ridgway), he was the grandson of Anthony Ridgway, an early Clyde settler. George Churchill (Jnr) worked as a chaff cutter and lived with his parents on 2 acres of Block 41 near to the corner of Hardys and Cranbourne Berwick Road.
    Before enlisting on 16 July 1915 he had the reputation of being brilliant cricket player,
a bonny manly lad’, with a sunny disposition, one who loved clean sport on the football and cricket grounds. It was said of him that he should make a sturdy active soldier and that ‘may he win a V.C.’ (Victoria Cross).
    This man who stood at 5ft 4 in tall (162.5 cm) was the first native born Clyde man to pass all the tests in the training camp. On the battle field he commanded such respect that he was promoted to Corporal on the 25th Oct 1917.
    Tragically he was killed in action on the 1st September 1918 at Mont St Quentin, France, a little more than two months before the end of the War, November 11th, 1918, Armistice Day. Clyde cricketers were deeply shocked and grieved to hear of the death of one of their most promising players.
    On Sunday evening, 22 Sept 1918,  the Clyde North Church of England, was not big enough to hold the large gathering which met to do honor to the memory of the late Cpl. George Churchill, who made the supreme sacrifice in France. 

At the Clyde North School Empire Day celebration, May 1919, his photo was unveiled by his former school teacher,  Mr Twyford  who referred to the many fine qualities of George Churchill. He impressed upon the children how proud they should be to have such a splendid memorial in the school of a scholar and soldier like George.
  His family grieved deeply over his death.

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