Tonks, Second Lieutenant Henry Alfred Charles

No 46 Sqn RFC

Henry Tonks was born in Burrumbuttock, in southern NSW, and was a 19 year old Fitter and Turner, who had served in the 46th Infantry Battalion of the AMF for a year, when he joined the 2nd Field Ambulance in Melbourne on 10 July 1915. He left from Melbourne on board HMAT A64 Demosthenes on 29 December. By March 1916 he had transferred to the 14th Field Ambulance in France. In December 1916 he transferred to the AFC and was posted to England for flying training, after which he was commissioned in May 1917. On 13 June he was posted to France, where he joined No 46 Sqn RFC at La Gorgue aerodrome.

He was killed in action on 21 June 1917 while flying Sopwith Pup B1709. He left on an Offensive Patrol at 0910, and failed to return; he was last seen over the lines at 1030. In his book No Parachute, [then] Lt A G Lee of No 46 Sqn commented: “The Major sent out three more planes to reinforce us, but we never saw them. Some time after we’d landed we watched them return – but only two of them. The missing one was Tonks. He hasn’t come back yet, and there’s been no message, and as it’s now after dinner, it looks like he’s had it. This was his first trip over the Lines.” In December 1918 a Court of Enquiry ruled that 2Lt Tonks had been killed in action. Ltn Otto Hartmann of Jasta 28 claimed a Pup over Rollenberghe at 1055; it was the third of his eventual 7 victories before he was killed in combat with a Bristol Fighter from No 48 Sqn RFC on 3 September.

2Lt H A C Tonks is buried in Grave XVII B 9 at Harlebeke New British Cemetery, Belgium.

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