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Fiaschi, Thomas Henry (1853–1927)

Thomas Fiaschi, c1915

Thomas Fiaschi, c1915

Australian War Memorial, C01010

The death occurred yesterday morning of Dr. Thomas Henry Fiaschi, who, as citizen, soldier, and surgeon, had won admiration throughout Australia.

What Dr Fiaschi did for the A.I.F. and for the Italian army during the last 40 years thousands of soldiers gratefully remember, and for Australia his efforts have been untiring. Few men could have directed their talents and energy more beneficially than he did throughout a long life.

Dr Fiaschi was born in Florence in 1853—a little more than 73 years ago. His father was Professor L. Fiaschi. Educated at the Universities of Pisa and Florence, Dr Fiaschi graduated with the degrees M.D. and Ch.D., and came to Sydney at the age of 22. First he practiced at Cooktown and was on the Palmer goldfields in its stirring days. Thence he went to Windsor, a district that nothing was able to remove from his affections. There he spent years working at his profession and at agriculture. In 1883 he moved his work to Sydney, and in 1902 became honorary surgeon to the Governor General, and later consulting honorary surgeon to the Sydney Hospital, and examiner in clerical surgery to the University.

In 1891 he joined the New South Wales Army Medical Corps as captain, attached to the New South Wales Lancers; in 1896 he was with the Italian army in Abyssinia, receiving the Cavaliers Cross of St Maurice and Lazarus for his services; and in 1898-1900 he commanded the New South Wales No 1 Field Hospital with General Hutton's Brigade in South Africa. For services at Paardeberg he was mentioned in despatches and received the D.S.O., and when he returned to Sydney he was promoted lieutenant colonel in the A.M.C. He became colonel in 1911, and principal medical officer of the Second Military District of the Commonwealth.

When the Great War commenced Dr Fiaschi went to England as commanding officer of No 3 Australian General Hospital, which was established subsequently at Lemnos. There he worked hard until his health gave way and he was invalided to England. After a holiday he reported fit for duty, but was not content to accept a position in a military hospital in England, so he asked to be allowed to return to Australia. He went first to Italy to visit his native city, and arrived there just after the great Austrian advance in the Trentino. He heard that the Italians urgently needed surgeons, so he resigned from the A.I.F., and joined the Italian army as captain in charge of the surgical department of the hospital at Schio, near the Trentino frontier, and about 12 kilometres from the trenches. There he remained for 12 months.

Next to his professional work came his passionate love of the soil—for agriculture particularly. He liked nothing better than to be associated with the men of the primary industries, and they esteemed him profoundly too, for, as a viticulturist—he was proprietor of the well known Tizzana vineyards—he helped enormously to develop the wine industry in Australia.

With the advance of abdominal surgery Dr Fiaschi ardently advocated the surgical treatment of gastric cancer. His work in the wards during his 20 years' service with Sydney Hospital is so well known, and his patients were so devoted to him, that it is scarcely necessary to comment upon the popularity he won wherever he worked. And he worked in many ways, as his membership of many organisations in New South Wales reveals. He was one of the foundation members of the New South Wales branch of the B.M.A.; for many years he was president of the A.T.N.A.; for many years and to the time of his death he was president of the New South Wales Wine Association; he was a member of the council of the Royal Agricultural Society; and old member of the Royal Society. For seven years he was surgeon to the Windsor Hospital and there he did pioneer work in listerian surgery.

Dr Fiaschi’s first wife was Miss Catherine Reynolds of County Leitrim, Ireland, who predeceased her husband in 1912. She was a lady well known for her benevolence. By his first wife Dr Fiaschi had three sons—Mr L. Fiaschi, Dr Piero Fiaschi and the late Dr Carlo Fiaschi—and two daughters, Clarissa, the Marchioness Tarrigiani of Rome, and Mrs L. D. Tennant of London. His second wife was Miss Amy Curtis of Bundaberg Queensland, who had two daughters.

Dr Fiaschi had been ill for about 3½ weeks. He contracted bronchitis at his vineyard at Mudgee, and this developed into broncho-pneumonia. His health considerably improved last Tuesday but he was attacked on Friday night by an acute condition of the right lung from which he never rallied.

The funeral will take place tomorrow afternoon in the Waverley Cemetery.

The Dante Alighieri Society is inviting members of the Italian community and friends of the late Dr Fiaschi to attend a meeting at the Italian Club, 94 Oxford street, at 5 p.m. today to discuss the best form and means of a memorial to Dr Fiaschi.

Original publication

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Citation details

'Fiaschi, Thomas Henry (1853–1927)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/fiaschi-thomas-henry-6165/text24142, accessed 24 November 2017.

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