Thomas Hunter was born in County Durham in 1880 but emigrated as a young man to Australia where he worked as a coal miner. At the outbreak of the First World War, he, like many young men enlisted, in his case in the 10th battalion of the 10th division, ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) forces. He fought at Gallipoli and then in the trenches of France and Belgium. In 1916 during the Battle of the Somme, Sgt Hunter was badly injured, so severely that he was shipped back to England for surgery. He was put on a train for Halifax with other wounded but on the journey his condition worsened badly so he was taken off the train at Peterborough and brought to the infirmary where, sadly, on the 31st of July 1916, he died. As he died away from home and his comrades he came to be known as the 'Lonely Anzac'.
His death touched the hearts of Peterborians, in a way he came to represent their young men away fighting. A public subscription fund paid for his funeral and a memorial. The mayor and civic dignitaries led the funeral procession to the Broadway Cemetery and the entire town came to a stop to pay their respects. A two metre tall granite cross was placed on his grave, and a brass plaque to his memory mounted in the military chapel in the cathedral.
Every year on ANZAC day, April 25th, a civil ceremony is held at his graveside, attended by the mayor, civic dignitaries and a representative from the Australian High Commission.
Edith Cavell is the World War I British nurse who is celebrated for saving the lives of soldiers in Brussels from all sides without distinction. She and Belgian and French colleagues helped over 200 Allied soldiers escape from German-occupied Belgium. She was arrested, tried with 33 others by a German military court, found guilty of ‘assisting men to the enemy’ and shot by a German firing squad on October 12, 1915. Edith had attended the Laurel Court girl’s school in the Cathedral Precincts 1885-6 as a ‘Pupil Teacher’ in modern terms a cross between a teaching assistant and a sixth former. She learnt to speak French fluently whilst at Laurel Court, thus equipping her for working in Belgium, initially as a governess, later as nurse.
There is a memorial to Edith Cavell in the south aisle of the Cathedral.
Thomas Hunter was born in County Durham in 1880 but emigrated as a young ma…
Edith Cavell is the World War I British nurse who is celebrated for saving…