• Hedley Whiteway Tomkins

Army / Flying Corps

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  • Birth

    Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

  • Enlistment - WW1

    Perth, WA, Australia

Stories and comments
    • To All My Friends in Preston
    • Posted by ww1research, Friday, 15 August 2014

    Hedley Tomkins was a star of the Preston (Vic). Football Club in 1907 and 1908 before he joined Melbourne where he earned the nickname "Bobby Dazzler" as a rover and wingman. He moved to Western Australia in 1913 and won an award for the best player in W.A. Tomkins retained a close connection with the Preston club, a couple of reports on finals matches in the early 1930s noting telegrams of best wishes from him in Perth. He enlisted in August, 1915, and his acquaintances in Preston and Northcote must have received a rude shock when one of his letters appeared in the Leader on 6 January, 1917. "To all my friends in Preston" "I got five wounds in the right leg beginning from the ankle to the knee, five in the abdomen, two to the right arm and a piece of shrapnel in the left wrist. The leg was much the worse. Septic poison set in and although they had the leg in hot baths and syringed twice a day, and also made incisions which meant five operations and put in a tube to drain out the pus, it was no good". "The pain was terrible and the swelling was getting worse so I told the doctor to go on with the business, with the result that I am now minus a leg. It is amputated about a foot below the knee. Since having it done my temperature has gone down and I feel much better and am going to England. They say they can fit me up with a leg which will do away with the crutch". The same edition of the Leader carried another letter from a Private Ben Wallish, a Western Australian in the same unit as Tomkins, but with no apparent connection to the Preston and Northcote districts : "I am as sound as a bun but I am very sorry I cannot say the same of poor Hedley (Hedley Tompkins). He has suffered great pain since he got knocked over, the poor little beggar. He has got a heart like a lion to have lived through it after all the agony and going through six operations. He has had the bad luck to lose his right foot - it had to be done to save his life". By an odd coincidence, "Bobby Dazzler's" number 17 jumper at Melbourne was taken over by a young Northcote player, Frank Lugton, who was killed in action at Pozieres, France on 29 July, 1916.