Charles Hampton Thorp, a veterinary surgeon, was 32 when he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. Born in Paeroa in New Zealand, he was living in Australia at the time of his enlistment in January 1916.
He left Sydney in November 1916, arriving in Plymouth on the 9th January 1917. Shortly afterwards he was admitted to the Military Hospital in Fovant, Wiltshire suffering from pleurisy. As he writes in his book ‘A Handful Of Aussy’s’, based on his wartime experiences ‘the intensely cold weather had left its mark in the ranks of the Colonials, and many a man gave his life for his country without getting beyond his English training camp’.
Charles recovered and by the end of March 1917 he was in a training camp in Etaples, France. Etaples was a base for British, Canadian and Australian forces, and served as a training base, a depot for supplies, a detention centre for prisoners, and a centre for the treatment of the sickand wounded; at its peak it housed over 100,000 people and well deserved its reputation as a bleak and forbidding place.
Illness was rife, and doubtless weakened by his bout of pleurisy Charles was admitted to hospital in April 1917 suffering from Influenza, Gastritis and debility. He was discharged and rejoined his unit at the front in June 1917. His records show that in was wounded in action on the 27th September 1917, suffering a gunshot would to his right hand.
On the 5th October he sailed to Southampton on board the HMAT Warilda, an Australian hospital ship, and on the 6th October he arrived at the Bath War Hospital, where he remained until he was discharged on the 10th January 1918. It appears that he never returned to the front, but was sent to the No.1 Command Depot at Sutton Veney, where the wounded were sent to recuperate.
Charles edited the Bath Bun during his time at the Bath War Hospital, and it seems he sent a copy to his parents in New Zealand, as this news clipping shows.
The Bath Bun reaches New Zealand!
Illustrations from ‘The Bath Bun’