THOMPSON Edward Lawrence

Born:  13 April 1906 Sutton, Surrey England.
Died:  18 November 1939, Mount Gambier, South Australia

Parents: Edward Charles Thompson and Caroline Hill
Siblings: Charles Edward Hile, Nellie Violet, Grace, Dorothy and James Frank

Edward was 16 years of age when he arrived in Adelaide on the ship the Ballarat in December 1922.  Edward’s sister Nellie would follow arriving in Adelaide per the Bendigo in June 1927. At the age of 24, Edward would return to England for a holiday departing England on the Mongolia for Adelaide on 5 September 1930.

For the last ten years of his life, Edward was employed by various farmers in the Karoonda area, where his sister, now married was living.  Edward also worked on the highway for a period.  He was described as a quiet man of exemplary habits, a lover of horses and an excellent workman. Edward joined the Bordertown Troop of the 3rd Light horse and made the rank of sergeant and undertook the military activities with zeal.

Various militia groups from the South-East were attending a training camp at the Glenburnie Race Group, when the Bordertown group decided to attend the pictures in Mount Gambier and have a fish supper afterwards.  The supper was responsible for the group missing the first transport back to Glenburnie, so they decided to walk until the second truck overtook them.

The group had reached the top of the hill, 100 yards on the northern side of the Federal Hotel, when a motorcycle travelling in the same direction overtook the group, hitting Edward in the back and hurling him to the roadway.  Another two militia men sustained minor injuries and managed to jump clear. Although medical officers were promptly on the scene, Edward died from his injuries.  A full military funeral was held in Mount Gambier.

The following is extracts from the Border Watch reporting on the funeral for Sgt Thompson. “Impressive scenes were witnessed as 400 officers and troopers of the Third light horse Regiment paid their last respects, parading from the Glenburnie racecourse, through the main street of Mount Gambier to the cemetery.  Only on exceedingly rare occasions is a military funeral mounted: the usual procedure is for the troops to march dismounted.  None of the senior officers in the camp can recall a military mounted funeral.  The remains were removed from the Mount Gambier Hospital to the camp site on Sunday evening, following which it was attended by a catafalque party until 1.00pm yesterday.  Draped in a large Union Jack, and bearing the late Sgt Thompson’s sword and head-dress, the casket was carried on a utility motor.  Sgt Thompson’s grey charger, with boots reversed was followed by pall bearers. The troopers formed the firing party, and the pallbearers were all members of Sgt Thompson’s troop.  In the rear of the pallbearers was the Guidon, carried unfurled.

Leaving the camp site, the cortege moved along the Prince’s highway and through Commercial Street until it reached Bay Road, where a turn left was made to South Terrace (now Lake Terrace).  At the intersection of Crouch and Ferrers Street a halt was called, and the Salvation Army Band took the lead, playing The Dead March.  A firing party, consisting of a dozen members of the Bordertown troop, with reversed arms, formed a guard of Honor, and preceded the casket, which was followed by the remainder of the officers and men.  About 200 civilians filed at the end of the procession.

At the conclusion of the service the firing party fired a volley of three rounds over the grave while the bugler sounded the “Last Post” and “Reveille”. Deeply affected members of the Bordertown troop filed past their late comrade’s grave and gave the last salute. Sources:          
Border Chronicle (Bordertown, SA : 1908-1950), Friday 24 November 1939, page 1
FamilySearch: England Births and Christening 1538-1975 database, Charles Edward Thompson’s spouses and children
Les Hill Collection – 18E27, 18E40