Baker, Captain Thomas Charles Richmond DFC MM*

No 4 Sqn AFC

Thomas Baker came from Smithfield, South Australia, where he was born on 25 April 1897. He worked as a Bank Clerk before joining the 16th Field Artillery Battery as a Gunner at Keswick, South Australia, on 29 July 1915. He left Melbourne on HMAT A34 Persic on 22 November, landing in Egypt before going on to France. On 11 December 1916 he was awarded the Military Medal for repairing broken telephone lines in 30 places while under heavy fire at Guedecourt. He was awarded a Bar to the MM for his action at Messines on 21 June 1917 when he played a part in extinguishing a fire in the camouflage netting over the Battery’s guns while under heavy shell fire.

He transferred to the AFC in September 1917 and was commissioned in March 1918 after pilot training. In June 1918 he joined No 4 Sqn on the Western Front, where he was credited with six victories while flying Sopwith Camel E1482:

a Fokker D.VII south west of Estaires at 1135 on 31 July
an Albatros D.V south of Laventie at 1405 on 7 August
a Balloon north east of Estaires at 1530 on 24 August
a DFW C-type east of Laventie at 0615 on 30 August
an Albatros C-type over Habourdin at 0810 on 1 October
a Fokker D.VII east of Fromelles at 0750 on 2 October.

The squadron then re-equipped with the Sopwith 7F.1 Snipe, and he went on to be credited with another six victories while flying the new machine as a Flight Commander:
in Snipe E8069 a Fokker D.VII east of Tournai at 1545 on 26 October
in Snipe E8092 a Fokker D.VII south east of Tournai at 1200 on 28 October
in Snipe E8092 a Fokker D.VII over Ath at 1455 on 28 October
in Snipe E8092 a Fokker D.VII over Ath at 1500 on 28 October
in Snipe E8092 a Fokker D.VII over Marcoast-Tournai at 1610 on 29 October
in Snipe E8065 a Fokker D.VII over Leuze at 1455 on 30 October

He was killed in action on 4 November 1918 when flying Sopwith Snipe E8065. A patrol from No 4 Sqn was involved in a fight with a large number of Fokker D.VIIs from Jagdgeschwader III and three Snipes were shot down, two of them claimed by Rittm Karl Bolle, the commander of Jasta Boelcke. They were Rittm Bolle’s 35th and 36th (and last) victories during the War.
In February 1919 Capt Baker was awarded a posthumous DFC, the citation reads: This officer has carried out some forty low flying raids on hostile troops, aerodromes, etc., and has taken part in numerous offensive patrols; he has, in addition, destroyed eight hostile machines. In all these operations he has shown exceptional initiative and dash, never hesitating to lead his formation against overwhelming odds, nor shrinking from incurring personal danger.

Capt Thomas Baker is buried near the eastern boundary, north of the entrance, in Escanaffles Cemetery, Belgium.

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