Many are aware of the recent passing of Major Kevin Claude Thomas MM. The decorated Korean War Veteran and one time highly skilled Commando served in the 31st Infantry Battalion for almost a decade and then trained many 31st Battalion Officers over a further 5 years at the Townsville OCTU at Lavarack Barracks.
This is an outline of his Military Career and demonstrated by a magnificent Tribute Poster by our French Honorary Member, Pierre Seillier.
Kevin Claude Thomas was born on July 16th 1930 at Crows Nest, Sydney.
He joined the Army in Sydney on 19th July 1951. After training at Kapooka was assigned to 3RAR
Served in Korea 1951-53 (two back to back tours) from late 1951 to 24 July 1953.
1952 Promoted Cpl
Awarded MM in May 1953 for actions in Sept 1952
Late 1953 RTA and discharge.
In 1954 Kev joined 1 Commando Regiment CMF
1955 Passed Para School at Williamstown and obtained Wings and promoted Sgt
1956 Seconded to a team with British Submarine Tellymackers, did 4 day submarine course and granted “Dolphins” from Australian Navy
1957 on family move to Brisbane transferred to 2/14th Qld Mounted Infantry
1958 Promoted 2nd Lieut
1960 on family move to Ayr appointed Platoon Commander with 31st Battalion RQR
1969 Promoted Capt and moved to OCTU as Instructor, shortly after promoted T/Major as Senior Instructor
1971 Passed 21A course and confirmed as Major
1973 Awarded Efficiency Decoration (ED) for Long Service
1974 Moved to Retired List
A copy of Kevin’s Military Medal Citation is attached.
One of the 3rd Battalion’s diggers in Kevin’s section killed in the action where Kevin was awarded the MM was 19 year old Keith Gardner.
Kevin subsequently met his sister Margaret and later they were married on 26th Feb 1955. In April 1991 they both travelled to Korea and visited Keith’s grave at Pusan Cemetery where Kevin took a photo of Margaret next to Keith’s grave.
In October 1991 the Federal Member for Herbert, Ted Lindsay, who had served in 31st Battalion RQR with Kev, spoke in the House of Representatives on Kev’s service in Korea, and read out his Military Medal Citation.
Ted went on to say –
“Kevin Thomas and his comrades in arms who served in Korea have left behind them an enduring legacy of selfless devotion to the highest ideals of mankind. I recall President Truman’s words of salute to American Troops in Korea; they apply no less to Australians who served there. His words were as follows-
You will go down in history as the first army to fight under a flag of a world organisation in defence of human freedom….
Victory may be in your hands, but you are winning a greater thing than military victory, for you are vindicating the idea of freedom under international law.
I record the gratitude of this House to Australian Korean War heroes and their fallen comrades. “
Kevin Thomas MM was given a very moving Memorial Service on Saturday 16th February 2019 by 3RAR at their home at Lavarack Barracks. Among those present with Kev’s family were Denis Tarbuck (A COY 3RAR Korean War Veteran) and 31st Battalion Association members: Colonel Greg Stokie Retd, (Queensland President), Don Thompson, Ambrose Saldumbide, Bob McIntosh, John Hayward, Vic Nicol, Ron Piper, Alan Hartley, Terry Hansen, the family of the Late Kev Fraser, the aforementioned Ted Lindsay, and Felix Reitano (Ingham Branch President), who Kev’s family said “was kind enough to do Kev’s Military Eulogy in the absence of Colonel Hugh Gaffney AM RFD ED Retd, the Patron of 31st Infantry Battalion Assoc.” Also present was Major Ian Reid, XO 31st/42nd Battalion RQR representing the CO, Lt Col Damian Green
LEST WE FORGET
Photos 1. Pierre’s Tribute 2. Kev with 1 Commando Regt (back row 2nd from left) 3 Kev in Samichon Valley with Hill 187 behind in 1952 4. The MM Citation