Thomas Murphy was born in Bathurst in 1890, a twin to Vincent Murphy, the sons of Daniel and Mary Louisa Murphy. Daniel Murphy and Mary Louisa Thompson had married at Bathurst in 1889. By 1892 they had moved to Orange where Harry, Mary, Daniel, Samuel, Vera, and William Murphy were born.
Thomas, aged 24 years, was working as a horse-breaker and living with his parents at Goodgodery when he enlisted with the AIF in Liverpool on 18 November 1914. As a member of the 6th Light Horse Regiment, B Squadron, Thomas embarked from Sydney on HMAT Suevic A29, on 21 December 1914. The Suevic was part of the 2nd Australian and New Zealand Convoy that left Albany on 31 December 1914 for Egypt. The 1st Convoy had departed on 1 November 1914. The fifty-four Australian and New Zealand ships of these two convoys carried a total of 40,000 soldiers and nearly 17,000 horses. They were the two largest convoys to depart from Australia for the whole of the war.
After several months training in Egypt, Private Murphy was deployed with the 2nd Light Horse Regiment to Gallipoli and landed there on 12 May 1915. On 25 May, he was temporarily attached to the 1st Australian Division Head Quarters on Anzac Cove, where he served until rejoining the Head Quarters Staff of the 2nd Light Horse Brigade on 19 June 1915.
An offensive against the Turkish Army was undertaken on 7 August 1915, and the 2nd Light Horse was to carry out a feint attack from Quinn’s Post. The first assault wave was brutally mown down. Fortunately, the officer commanding the attack had the wisdom and courage to call off further attack waves. Of the 56 men who charged in the first wave, 16 were killed and 37 wounded. On 8 August 1915, Private Murphy was slightly wounded but did not go to hospital. On 12 September 1915 Private Murphy was appointed Lance Corporal, and just three days later promoted to Supernumerary Provisional Corporal.
Corporal Murphy was killed in action on 3 October 1915; the first soldier from Cumnock to die in WWI. He was buried at Shell Green Cemetery No. 1, Gallipoli, about 1150 yards south of Anzac Cove.
The Catholic Church in Cumnock held a requiem mass in Thomas’ honour on Sunday, 28 November 1915.
Corporal Murphy had nominated his mother, Mary, as his next of kin, and on 7 August 1916 she received a small parcel containing his personal effects: one wallet, three coins and one testament. In accordance with army protocol Thomas’ war medals were forwarded to his father.
Thomas’ younger brother, Harry Murphy, also served in WWI; he died of wounds received in action in France in February 1917. Another brother, Daniel Murphy, was also wounded in France but recovered and returned to Australia in September 1918.
Thomas Murphy is remembered on the Roll of Honour at the War Museum, Canberra, the WWI plaque on the Memorial Gates, Cumnock and on the WWI Honour Roll at the WE Agland MBE Memorial Museum in Orange. He is also commemorated on the World War I Roll of Honour on the southern face of the Orange Cenotaph.
Molong Argus, 29 October 1915, p. 4.
* Compiled by Dianne Strahan & Val McKenzie, Cumnock, 2015.