Thomas James Dudley was born in Lucknow on 21 May 1897; one of ten children born to Thomas and Mary Ellen Dudley. Thomas’ maternal uncle was Alderman William Edwin Agland, who became Mayor of East Orange in 1910. Thomas’ grandfather – Thomas Taylor Dudley – was a Cornish settler from Ludgvan who arrived in Lucknow in 1877, and his grandmother, Mary Ann Dudley nee Allen, who practised as a midwife in the Lucknow and Shadforth areas for many years and was still delivering babies in her 80s.
The Dudleys were very prominent in the district. Thomas Snr was underground mine manager of the Lucknow Gold Mining Company, and family members were active in the Methodist Church, and participated in music and sport.
Thomas enlisted in WWI in February 1916 and attended Dubbo training camp for six weeks before proceeding to Liverpool camp. He embarked from Sydney in September 1916, a private in the 3rd Battalion, 20th Reinforcements. Private Dudley served in France for over two years. He was hospitalised twice during his service; in May 1917 due to trench foot, and in March 1918 after having been gassed.
On 18 September 1918 the 3rd Battalion was involved in the Battle of Warfusee in the Picardy region of France. It was here that they captured the German 77mm calibre Field Gun that is now on display in Cook Park in Orange. Private Dudley was one of 25 servicemen from the Orange area who served in the 3rd Battalion.
Thomas returned to Australia in March 1919 and was discharged from the AIF two months later. He married Frances Jessie Bowyer in Orange in 1922 and the couple settled in Huntley. In mid-1929 they were living in Sydney where Thomas was employed as a voluntary timber worker. On 14 August their home in Huntley was destroyed by fire; the couple lost all their possessions, including Thomas’ war medals.
Jessie died in Orange in 1931, aged just 28. Thomas continued living at Huntley until his death in February 1964 at the Repatriation Hospital at Concord. His obituary in the Central Western Daily described him as “a keen sportsman, taking particular interest in breeding and racing greyhounds.” Thomas is commemorated on the Methodist Church Orange Honour Roll.