Thomas Francis Donovan, a 28 year old married waterside worker from Molle Street, Hobart volunteered for service on 8 June 1915. On enlistment Thomas Donovan stated that he had not previous military experience. On passing the medical examination he was allotted to the 7th reinforcements for the 1″ Australian General Hospital and Convalescent Depot, then in Egypt. In a little over four weeks after enlisting, Private Thomas Donovan was on his way overseas leaving on the H.M.A. T. Wandilla which departed Melbourne on 17 June 1915.
On arrival in Egypt, Private Donovan was transferred to the 3,d Auxiliary Hospital at Tel-el-Kebir where he spent the next 28 days prior to embarking once again for England. From 9 August to 22 September 1916 he served with the A.M.e. Details prior to being taken on strength at the No.2 Australian Auxiliary Hospital in Southall.
At the beginning of January 1917 he left England and proceeded to France and being taken on strength with the 7th Field Ambulance. The next day he was transferred to the 5th Field Ambulance. In April one bearer subdivision of the 5th Field Ambulance was marched out to support the 2’d Division under Brigadier General John Gellibrand in action at Bullecourt. The second battle for Bullecourt commenced at 3.45am on 3 May 1917. Within a few hours casualties were mounted to around 1800 with stretcher bearers forced to carry their precious cargoes at least a quarter of a mile further following the shelling of the wagon post. One observer commented on the lines of bearers who passed his observation post noting the difficult conditions they were operating under. Losses among the stretcher bearers were around thirty per cent.
Among those to become a casualty over the next few days of intense fighting was Lance Corporal Thomas Donovan who received a gunshot wound to the head. He was taken to the 3″ Casualty Clearing Station before being transported to Rouen, where he was admitted to the 5th General Hospital. By this stage he was seriously ill and could not be moved. On 24th May, with his condition having improved he was evacuated to England where he was admitted to the 2’d London General Hospital. A medical board, sitting at the end of June determined that he was permanently unfit for further service due in part to his being paralysed down the left side of his face, arm and leg.
In 1922 Thomas and his wife Minnie were living at Lesley Road, Longley when he succumbed of his wounds, passing away aged 39 years.