Cyril James Thompson

by Catherine Waters

My Great Uncle Cyril was born in Adelaide of Australian born parents. Never the less when the great war came like so many of his country men Cyril enlisted. His papers record that he had previously been rejected on the grounds of his chest measurement.

He left Australia in June 1917 arriving in Liverpool in September and was immediately admitted to hospital suffering from Mumps. After 6 months at Codford he left for France.

Ultimately Cyril received abdominal wounds in September 1918 and died in hospital. Cyril was the only man in his battalion to die this day; less than 2 months before the war ended.

He is buried at La Chappelette British Cemetery in Peronne.

The following letter was written by Cyril to his young sister Dulcie. Dulcie ultimately became an army nurse and saw service at El Alamein and in Japan throughout the Korean War. Cyril was 12 years older than his sister. He left Australia when she was 6 years old and this letter was written to her just after her 7th birthday immediately prior to him going to France. He was killed 6 months after the writing of this letter.

February 17 1918

Dear Little Dulcie

And how is my little Peach getting on? I suppose by now you are quite a great scholar. You were clever before I left but now you ought to be clever enough now to write me a letter. Tonight (that is when you get this) you just sit down and write me a little won’t you! What class are you in now and are you still going to Cowandilla. Since leaving you at Mitcham on July 12th I have seen lots and lots of wondrous things and have up till now had a good time seeing sights that you would so much love to see later on.

Did you enjoy your birthday in January. I hope you had a Birthday Party. If you never we will have a huge one when I come home won’t we? That won’t be long either. It would be no use having any Birthday Parties over here. There is no sugar and then you would cry out wouldn’t you “My tea ain’t sweet” Do you do that now?

Beside sugar there is quite a lot of eating things that are impossible to get and in the towns it is very difficult to obtain meat at Restaurants and Cafes more than three times a week.

I haven’t seen any of the Big war yet. There are quite a number of German Prisoners round these parts. I suppose that by the time you get this your brother will be in the big offensive that is pending. Possibly but still improbable I may get a transfer and be one of those who fly around in aeroplanes. Wouldn’t that be great?

It would be no use wanting to jump out of one of those like somebody wanted to on a boat once. Anyhow you would only jump out once. It isn’t fair to do it twice is it?

I hope Dulcie you are getting on famously in everything especially in health and that your arm now is quite better, Remaining Darling

Your sincere brother Cyril