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RSA Ashburton vice-president Allan Johnstone lays a wreath at the Ashburton Cenotaph in a special ceremony to mark Anzac Day 2020.

Twenty-six-year-old Thomas Joseph Goldsmith was farming at Lauriston, near Ashburton, when he enlisted to fight for his new home country.

Born at Braddan, in the Isle of Man on December 18, 1889, Thomas had made his way to New Zealand and settled in Mid Canterbury.

At 6-foot tall, with a frame of around 80kg (176lbs), Thomas, who had passed the Fourth Educational Standard or equivalent at the time of enlisting, had brown hair, grey eyes and a slight stammer in his speech.

He was single and with no dependants when stirred to duty by joining the infantry of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force on June 28, 1916.

His next of kin when he enlisted was his friend, C. Goodwin, of Clovelly Farm at Lauriston, New Zealand.

Private T J Goldsmith, 29162 was assigned to the 2nd Canterbury Infantry Battalion.

The Canterbury Infantry Regiment was one of four regional infantry groups (the others were Auckland, Wellington and Otago) and served on the Western Front from 1916 until 1918.

This was where Thomas was headed when he embarked with other 18th Reinforcements, and 12th and 9th New Zealand Rifle Brigade, on the Tofua from Wellington on October 11, 1916.

Two-and-a-half months later, having spent Christmas Day on board the troopship with thousands of other soldiers, he disembarked at Plymouth, in the south west of England, on December 29 and marched into Sling Camp for training on the same day.

It was two days before New Year’s Eve.

He was there for just over a month before moving on to France and the first battle of his life.

Thomas arrived at camp in Staples, France and a month later was led into the field of battle; it was March 3, 1917.

Soldiers on the Western Front fought the war living in trenches which were long, narrow ditches dug into the ground.

Private Goldsmith’s headstone at the Ashburton Cemetery.

The trenches were muddy and smelly with food scraps, overflowing toilets and the bodies of deceased soldiers which attracted rats. There was also lice, brought in on frogs when the trenches flooded, attaching to clothing and causing the men to itch and suffer from trench fever (which lice spread).

Three-and-a-half months after first arriving in the trenches, Thomas suffered from a bout of diarrhoea so severe he had to be treated twice by field ambulance.

He went on to do Western-European service throughout 1917 and 1918, was wounded multiple times in action, including an accidental injury in July 1917 and was also disciplined at least twice; once for being missing in action for 45 minutes on New Year’s Day 1918.

Thomas served his country for three years and 159 days, which included two years and 345 days posted overseas.

He was eventually discharged from service on December 3, 1919 as no longer being physically fit because of wounds received in action.

He was awarded the British War Medal on November 21, 1921, and the Victory Medal on May 16, 1922.

It is not known what Thomas’ life was like returning to New Zealand after the war, but he died at Burnham, on November 19, 1950.

He is buried alongside other Anzac soldiers at Ashburton Cemetery.