Thomas Noonan

Thomas Noonan

Thomas Noonan was born in 1893 in Ballyguy, Murroe, Co. Limerick. He was a member of the Limerick rowing club and worked locally in McBerny’s shop on Thomas Street. He emigrated to Australia in July 1914, after an uncle there sent him the boat fare and organised a job for him. Once he arrived in Sydney the job fell through and for adventure he joined the 13th Battalion AIF. He embarked Melbourne for Gallipoli on the HMAT Ulysses A38

He landed at Gallipoli in April 1915 and rowed to the beach, the only one surviving in his boat. During the campaign he was sent to hospital in Alexandria with shrapnel wounds but was quickly returned to the action. He was killed in action on August 9th 1915 at age 23. He is remembered in 7th Field Ambulance Cemetery, Australia.

To read his diary in full and find out more information visit: http://www.europeana1914-1918.eu/en/contributions/4436

Thomas Noonan's diary will updated from April to August. 

Diary Tracker

Follow the stories of the Irishmen who fell at Gallipoli from a century ago via their personal stories, ephemera, archive material, census details, military archives and diaries.

  1. Thomas Noonan

    Thomas Noonan

    9 August

    Thomas Noonan was killed in action on August 9th 1915. Below is his memorial scroll received by the family after his death. 

  2. Thomas Noonan

    Thomas Noonan

    6 August

    Going into action tonight on the left at the Salt Lake. We have white arm bands and white square on back as distinguishing badge as a lot of different troops are up.

  3. Thomas Noonan

    Thomas Noonan

    5 August

    Making great preparations for a big movement. Expect to be called to arms at any moment.

  4. Thomas Noonan

    Thomas Noonan

    3 August

    A Taube flew over our position and dropped a bomb.

  5. Thomas Noonan

    Thomas Noonan

    2 August

    We get an issue of rum every evening now.

  6. Thomas Noonan

    Thomas Noonan

    17 July

    Dear Mother and Father,

    I have received some letters lately and I am glad to hear that all is quite well. I am in the best of form and am back again at the front. How is Willie, I suppose he is a big boy now. Tell him I will get a ‘Jack Johnson’ and send it home to him. Also Maggie, Kit and Mick I hope they are all in the best of health. How is Bill Nicholls remember me to him also all the family.

    The weather is very warm here, but as we are near the water we get a nice sea breeze at times. We also go for a swim some evenings just as it gets dark because it is dangerous in the daytime as you might get a bullet of a shrapnel. There is lots of shrapnel going every day. There is a very high ridge quite near us, which the Turks are continually shelling as they think some of our batteries are concealed on it. Of course we are pretty safe but it’s nice to see the shells bursting all around. The other day we were having a game of cards when a shrapnel bullet came down within a couple of inches of my knee.

    Dear mother you mentioned in your letter that if I wanted anything you would send it to me. Well I would be very thankful for some cigarettes also some note paper and envelopes as both are scarce here.

    I have not anymore news at present so I will conclude with best love to all.

    From you loving son,


    PS address letter as usual. Also please send a pencil. 

  7. Thomas Noonan

    Thomas Noonan

    17 May

    Dear Mother and Father,

    Just a few lines to let you know I am in the best of health and trust you are all well at home.

    My wound is nearly alright now. I am walking around so I expect to be sent back to the firing line before long.

    I suppose you have read in the papers about our landing in Gallipoli. When we got near the beach we jumped out of the boats and charged the Turks. We drove them up the hill from the beach at the point of the bayonet, and captured the trenches on the top. We lost heavily but it might have been worse had we landed about 100 yards further away, where the enemy had a trap laid for us. They had a mine field laid also big pits dug in the ground with spikes at the bottom and covered on top with brushwood. They also had wire entanglements charged with electricity. So you see the nice preparations they made for our reception. Indeed it will be no harm to the world when they are finished off as they are very cruel fighters. There has been found several relics of their barbarity such as men disembowelled, tongue cut out, eyes gouged out and other mutilations.

    The fighting was very hard for the first couple of days. There are some soldiers here that met the Germans, and they reckon it was hotter than any fighting that took place in France.

    The Turks had us at a disadvantage at first, as we could not get our artillery ashore for some time. But when it did come it made up for the loss. Of course our warships did great work from the bay especially Queen Elizabeth. We could also tell when she was firing from the awful repost of her guns. Then you would hear the shells screaming overhead and the boys shouting ‘good ole Lizzie’.

    I had one close shave from the shrapnel when the Turks were trying to find our trenches. The shell struck the ground before bursting and the result was we were nearly buried by the sand. It got in my mouth, ears, eyes, inside every corner of my uniform. When I got back here to the hospital and was undressing myself I found my bed full of sand. One of the sisters asked me where all the sand came from so I said ‘it was a souvenir of Gallipoli.’

    The shrapnel is terrible it bursts in the air and sends down a shower of bullets which cover a big space of ground. The bullets are round and are about the size of those stoppers in the lemonade bottle.

    The enemy have also used dum dums some sort of exploding bullets which make for a very ugly wound. Well up to the present I think we have given them hell and there is much more to follow. They are very much afraid of the bayonet especially after the way we drove them out of their position on the beach. We also captured a lot of their machine guns, also some of their artillery I think. I don’t know how many prisoners were captured but I do know that wherever my mate and myself saw a Turk we gave him a ticket home. When we were charging them I saw one Australian a big man, bayonet a Turk and throw him over his head. I think that Turk must have got a shock.

    Hoping all are well and wishing to be remembered to all the friends I will now conclude for the present.

    From your loving son,


    PS Remember me to Bill Nicholl. 

  8. Thomas Noonan

    Thomas Noonan

    9 May

    Had a walk to the canal this morning.

  9. Thomas Noonan

    Thomas Noonan

    8 May

    Almost quite well again. I had a nice walk around.

  10. Thomas Noonan

    Thomas Noonan

    7 May

    Just one year since I left home today. The time has passed very quickly indeed. I can hardly imagine it's so long.

    Thomas Noonan with his family in Co. Limerick before emigrating to Australia in 1914. Image via Europeana.

  11. Thomas Noonan

    Thomas Noonan

    4 May

    [Click to read the original version of the letter in full]

    Dear mother and father,

    Just a short letter trusting you are in good health, also my brothers and sisters. How is Bill, do say I was asking for him, also all the friends at home. I am in hospital at present as I got a bullet wound in the ankle. I am feeling in the best of form and expect to be back in the firing line very soon. I was wounded on the morning of April 28 the bullet went through at one side of my ankle and out the other side, and neither broke a bone or tendon. I reckon I was lucky that time.

    I will give an account of what happened since I wrote last. We marched from our camp on Sunday April 11th and took train for Alexandria, arriving there on Monday morning. We embarked during the day and sailed at noon on Tuesday on HMT Ascot. We passed through the group of Aegean Islands and arrived at Port Mudros, Lemnos Island near the entrance to the Dardanelles on April 17th. This is a large bay surrounded by hills but of course it has no wharves only a small wooden pier built by the Admiralty. The place was full of transport warships and men as it was here they concentrated before attacking the Turks. The inhabitants of the island are Greeks and they sold us bread, fruit, fish and lots of other things. I was rowing almost every day, as I was one of the crew of a boat which the officers used whenever there were dispatches for other ships. So I had good exercise and enjoyed it as I am very fond of rowing.

    We sailed again on the 24th and landed on the Gallipoli peninsula at Sairibar on Sunday morning April 25th at an early hour and under terrific fire from the enemy.

    The ships had to stay outside the danger zone so we were transferred to destroyers which took us in near the beach. As the water began to get shallow we were transferred to rowing boats which completed the journey. All the time we were under fire and there were some casualties among us. As for the enemy they were strongly entrenched on the side of the hill which rose abruptly almost from the water’s edge at a height about 200 feet, and the sides of which were covered with a thick scrub something like holly that afforded excellent cover. As soon as we were near the beach we jumped into the water which was up to our waists and charged with the bayonet. We gave them such a shock by the sudden onslaught that they turned and ran and in a short time we drove them over the hill and captured the trenches and a couple of machine guns. Of course we suffered heavily but we had captured a good position. We can get our artillery shore now also ammunition stores and the like.

    On Monday the Turks had retreated still further but the fighting was going on fiercely. The battleships in the bay did great work especially the Queen Elizabeth whose shells must have done awful damage among the Turks. At first the noise and screaming of shells over our heads both from the warships and the enemy was terrible. On Tuesday it was quieter and some of us indulged in sniping. I shot four Turks during the day and my mate got six. We had a pair of field glasses and were able to pick them out pretty well from among the bushes. I didn’t see much more of the fighting as I was wounded early on Wednesday morning and had to walk to the dressing station to get attended to. At noon on Wednesday we embarked on SS Berffinger (sp) a fine ship captured from the Germans and sailed on Thursday morning April 29th for Alexandria with a load of wounded men.

    We arrived in Alexandria on Saturday morning May 1s and were sent to Cairo in a special hospital train.

    We got very good treatment. We get cigarettes, books, daily papers, smoke paper and other things. I am afraid that when I get back again to the firing line I will wish to be wounded again.

    Well dear mother and father I haven’t anymore to write about at present and will conclude.

    From your loving son,


    PS One night while having a nap in the trench. I dreamt I was having tea with you at home. But suddenly woke to find sand splashed over me with some shrapnel. 

  12. Thomas Noonan

    Thomas Noonan

    27 April

    Fighting still going fiercely. Lot of our fellas have been killed and wounded, also mutilated.

  13. Thomas Noonan

    Thomas Noonan

    26 April

    Landed at the beach about 3.06AM under rifle fire. Went out at 5AM on a scout. Got to the firing line about 10AM. Terrible fog going over the hills.


  14. Thomas Noonan

    Thomas Noonan

    25 April

    Off guard at 9AM. Sailed at 11PM passed warship bombarding the coast. Awful shooting all day.

  15. Thomas Noonan

    Thomas Noonan

    24 April

    On ground. Boats are with troops. We landed at Cape Helles and North Bay.