Thomas Meynell Curtayne

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CURTAYNE, Thomas Meynell

Service no: 3798

Place of birth: Nyngan, 1894

Address: 33 Lords Place, Orange

Occupation: Baker’s carter

Next of kin: Louisa Curtayne (mother), 33 Lords Place, Orange

Date of enlistment: 6 September 1915

Place of enlistment: Orange

Age at enlistment: 21

Fate: Embarked HMAT A54 Runic, Sydney, 20 January 1916. Joined British Expeditionary Force, Alexandria, 27 March 1916. Taken on strength 20th Battalion, France, 1 June 1916. Killed in action, Pozieres, Somme Sector, France, 4 August 1916

Date of death: 4 August 1916

Thomas Meynell Curtayne was born in Nyngan in 1894 to Clive and Louisa Curtayne of Lords Place, Orange. He was the eldest of five children. Tom, as he was known, obtained his schooling in Orange and on leaving school became a baker’s carter. Prior to his enlistment he was part of the Citizen’s Military Forces.

According to The Sun newspaper before Tom was accepted by the AIF, he had to undergo a couple of operations and was prepared to undergo a third if it necessary. [1] He enlisted in Orange on 6 September 1915 at the age of 21 years and 8 months. He nominated his mother as his next of kin.

On 20 January 1915 Tom’s unit embarked from Sydney on board HMAT A54 Runic bound for Alexandria, Egypt, where he joined the British Expeditionary Forces on 27 March 1916. He was taken on strength with the 20th Battalion in France on 1 June 1916. Tom was killed in action on 4 August 1916. He was one of eighteen men from the Orange district known to have died during the Battle of Pozieres in France.

There is no known grave for Private Tom Meynell Curtayne. He is commemorated on the Orange East Public School Honour Roll, the Patrician Brothers’ Orange Roll of Honour, the Holy Trinity Church Orange Honour Roll, on the World War I Roll of Honour on the southern face of the Orange Cenotaph, on panel number 90 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra and the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux in France.

On 25 April 1917 the second ever Anzac Day service in Orange was held at the Orange Public School. Mayoress McNeilly placed a laurel wreath on the Union Jack for each fallen soldier who had attended the school, including Thomas Curtayne. [2]

In July 1917 a tree was planted at Orange Public School in Thomas’ memory. It was one of 26 trees planted in honour of fallen soldiers who had attended the school. [3]

Tom is also remembered in Newman Park in Orange, where his name appears on a plaque commemorating former Orange East Public School students who were killed in action.

In 1923 the Anzac Memorial Avenue of trees was planted along Bathurst Road to commemorate fallen WWI soldiers. A tree was planted in honour of “Pte TM Curtayne”; it was donated by HW Bransgrove. Very few of the trees are still standing today.

Tom’s obituary in the Leader described him as:

A popular Orange lad … a dashing soldier [with a] sunny disposition and genial mannerisms [4]

  • Sharon Jameson and Margaret Nugent, January 2019

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