Signalman Thomas Touchell – Royal Australian Navy
Thomas had a younger brother Torrance, born in 1902, and the Touchell family resided in Marmion Street, Fremantle. Their father Thomas (senior) worked for the WA Government Railways as a Locomotive Driver and was always travelling around the state. When news came that Railway Companies were being formed for service with the AIF in Europe, Thomas, despite being 43 years old enlisted in the AIF in January 1917. He was soon sent to France with the 5th Broad Gauge Railway Company and served with the 59th railway operating companies on the Western Front in 1917/18. He was returned to WA in late 1918.
While his father was away in France, Young Thomas was mobilised for Home defence. In August 1917 he volunteered for service abroad and was sent over east to undergo training at Williamstown, Swan Island and Edgecliff. In June 1918 Tom qualified as a Signalman and was assigned to home duties and then the transport ship service around Australia. On his first major voyage overseas to England he was assigned to the ship HMS Kent.
His father had left England in December 1918 so their ships may have passed en route. On arrival in England in early 1919 young Tom came down ill and was sent into the 2nd Australian Auxiliary Hospital. Unfortunately Tom was suffering from Spanish influenza and despite much attention, his condition continued to deteriorate and he died on the 11th April 1919. He was buried at Harefield Churchyard in Middlesex England in plot 102 and lies among many members of the AIF who died in the war. He was 19 years old.
In 1923 Lucy Touchell died but Thomas John Touchell lived to the ripe old age of 91 before dying in 1965. In World War Two, the youngest son Torrance served in the RAAF for the duration and survived the war.