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Thomas Charles Baker (1897–1918)

Flight Commander Captain T C Richmond Baker, D.F.C, M.M, and bar is now reported to have been killed in action on November 4, 1918. He was previously reported missing. He was the eldest son of the late Mr Richmond Baker and Mrs. A. M. Baker, of Park terrace, North Unley. He enlisted at the age of 18 and left for active service abroad in November, 1915. In France he was transferred to the 18th Battery, 6th Field Artillery Brigade. The officer commanding the 18th Battery wrote to his mother—"Mention of Lieutenant Baker's name brings to my mind one of the worst days of the war in my experience, when he was my telephonist on forward observation duty. It was on the Somme during that dreadful winter, December 1916. The temperature was well below zero, as we, wet to the skin, crawled into the position before dawn, and had to wait till dusk to crawl out again, for it was in full view of the Hun, who knew we used it for observation. During that awful day the telephone wire was cut many times by the shells that fell in hundreds around our little home. Baker crawled back several times to repair the wire, so that I could communicate with the battery, and each time I did not expect to see him again. We dined off a Christmas cake I had received from Australia, and laughed down our many troubles. That night I recommended him for the Military Medal, and was pleased when he received it, for he was a brave and willling lad." He was awarded a bar to his Military Medal for extinguishing a fire in an ammunition dump in a gun pit. After two years in the Artillery he was transferred to the Australian Flying Corps. On receiving his commission and wings, he proceeded to France, and was attached to the 4th Squadron, where he quickly rose in rank. His commanding officer writes—"He was one of the bravest officers I have ever had in this squadron, and had only be promoted a few days before to the rank of captain, and flight commander. His loss is very keenly felt by all the squadron, for he was, extremely popular, and looked up to by all other pilots, chiefly on occount of his brilliant leadership". On one occassion Captain Baker had the honour of being presented to his Majesty, King George by General Sir W. Birdwood. His Majesty warmly congratulated him on his successful career. He was also the guest in August last year of the Earl of Kintore, formerly Govenor of South Australia, and his daughter, Lady Ethel Baird at her home in Scotland. While there he met many notable people, and spent a very happy fortnight. He flew from France to Scotland in a 'Handley Page ' with 17 other airmen, and he reckoned that, it was "stunt". No particulars have been received concerning the deed which won his latest decoration, the Distinguished Flying Cross. It was probahly earned during his last combat in the air, as his mother was told that "He did great work in the flight".

Original publication

Citation details

'Baker, Thomas Charles (1897–1918)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 23 July 2024.

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