Tom as he was known was born in Goulbourn NSW, in 1881 to William Downey and Ethel Sharp a dark haired blue eyed boy, the rural recession of the 1890s saw Tom move to the rough working class suburb of Balmain in Sydney.
It’s here it’s believed he met Jessie Wilkin, the husband of Elizabeth nee Langdon a couple who were to become Tom’s in-laws.
Downey wed Elizabeth's sister Harriet at the Salvation Army Temple Ann St, Brisbane in 1909 and the newlyweds moved with Harriet’s 2 daughters Nellie Alvina 15 and Hylene Effie Langdon 9, to Eumundi where Tom found work as a sawyer and labourer. In 1910 their daughter Queenie Ester was born and two more children followed.
He enlisted on 7 June 1917 at the age of 32 and on 16 August 1915 embarked on board the HMAT A55 Kyarra where he ended up on the Western Front. On 7 June 1917 Private Downey was killed in action in Belgium at the battle of Messines Ridge where the casualties were heavy.
Thomas was listed as one of the 66 men killed in action. Fighting was so fierce that there are no eye witness accounts of how he died or where he fell and his body was never recovered.
With no known grave he is remembered at Menin Gate Memorial Ypres Belgium.
To find out more of the details of Downey's war watch the short video below
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