Family pays tribute 100 years after ultimate sacrifice

A family has paid tribute to a local soldier killed 100 years ago today during the Third Battle of Ypres, which took place in Europe during World War One.

The Australian Imperial Forces’ 29th Battalion was heading into the line east of Molenaarelsthoek in Belgium when Thomas Brodie and two other soldiers were caught in a barrage of shells and killed.

The site of his grave was lost to history, Private Brodie’s grand niece Debi Brodie Harvey said.

“We’ve looked at some of the photos of that battle and they are horrendous. You can see how the site was lost.”

Mrs Brodie Harvey and her cousin Catherine Brodie both felt a deep sense of duty to ensure Private Brodie was not forgotten.

“He was one of the ordinary soldiers and because he never married it is up to his two grand nieces to keep his memory going,” she said.

“I don’t know why, but he has become a little bit of an obsession. We have people in the family who were at Kokoda and who died on the Burma Track. Thomas has some kind of pull because there’s next to no information on him.”

Private Brodie was born near Malmsbury and among other jobs worked as a trapper near Kardella and Bendigo.

He was very fit and strong and enjoyed the outdoors. 

Letters from the front showed a deep love for family and friends. After his death a close friend wrote “All who knew Tom were charmed by a very likable young man whose kindly deeds did not go unnoticed”.

Mrs Brodie Harvey said researchers at the Passchendaele 1917 Memorial in Zonnebeke, Belgium were working with the family to find out more details about Private Brodie’s final resting place.

She said the centre was helping other families whose ancestors were named at the nearby Menin Gate Memorial.

Australian forces incurred 38,000 casualties, according to the Australian War Memorial. Overall, the wider offensive saw 310,000 British and Dominion casualties during eight weeks of offensives.