This post may contain affiliate links. See the Terms & Conditions
Life from Australia to WW1 in France. Frederick Fiddes.
Within a short period of time I’ve noticed that my mother’s side of the family tree and history was the opposite to what I expected such as enlisting for WW1 at 44 years of age. He’s gone from life in Australia to WW1 in France.
There are some interesting characters which probably fit the Australian description of Larrikan and I can see that some character traits have to be genetic.
Based on this, I was looking forward to researching them with a light-hearted approach as in his case there were 2 main stories. It was like Frederick Fiddes was living 2 different lives.
The following is the 2nd stage of his life. It reminded me of the autobiography and mini-series ‘A Fortunate Life’ by AB Facey. This is where Albert lives his first 25 years through some horrendous ordeals as a child in Western Australia pre-WW1.
The connection is most probably because of the era and WW1.
Fortunately for my G. Granddad, who was born in Adelaide in 1869, I can only surmise that life pre-WW1 was relatively standard as I’ve not seen records to say otherwise.
Working as a Blacksmith during his younger years was providing support for his wife Clara and family even though they moved often. Mostly around Sydney but it seems, in his 40’s he may have lived a double life which included central Queensland and supposedly New Zealand.
it seems my G. Grandad had ‘itchy feet’. It’s a need to travel so was it in his genes, as my both my mother and I larv to travel. But it was as a middle-aged man his journey of discovery was highlighted.
It seems that working as a Blacksmith wasn’t suiting him or was it the tangled web of women confusing him? So, in Rockhampton in 1914 he enlisted for WW1 at 44 years of age and was in the 9th Battalion.
I’ve always heard of young men enlisting but not at this age.
Was Frederick running from something? Who knows.
Anywho, G. Granddad had joined the army. Kudos to you!
Upon sighting the official Australian Imperial Forces document, he had stated that he was a widower. Hmm – again.
I recall in 1969 that my G. Grandmother Clara (his ex-wife) appeared in the paper as she had turned 100 and had received a telegram from Queen Elizabeth 2nd. Clearly, Clara had not died.
Whatever was his reasons, he headed off to France in January 1915.
It was it this point when I followed up on his records, I saw this man in a different light as opposed to the ‘pre’ war character. I felt as though I’d become to know a little bit of the man in a military uniform whose photo hung on the Grand Parent’s lounge room wall.
Why did he go?
I also feel that he had no idea of how hard it was going to be, so I go back to the question; why did he go? What need had him enlisting for WW1 at 44 years of age?
After spending hours reading his service records my heart went out to him.
For 4 years he spent his time in the fields in different locations in France such as Nantes, Rouen, Etaples, Franlac, Marseilles, Somme & Pozieres. On his records there is mention of Lecci, Corsica where I discovered that this island played a key role in WW1 to house the wounded as well as Prisoners of War.
Poziers and Somme
G. Granddad went to Tel el Kebir which is where the training camp for the Australia Imperial Force was based prior to going to Pozieres and Somme.
The bulk of his military records were about him being found drunk in the trenches or AWOL after taking leave so he wasn’t exactly the ideal soldier but I don’t blame him. That would have been horrendous!
The penalty for his insubordination started with being deprived of 3 days’ pay, then 7 days, 14, 21 days’ pay plus 3 counts of forfeiting 28 days’ pay at a time.
In 1916 his Battalion was at the Somme where he suffered from Trench Foot and sent to the Australian Base Depot at Etaples on France’s West Coast (The Western Front) to heal.
His ordeal ended when in November 1918 he was shot and was transferred to London for hospitalization and from there he arrived home in 1919. His thoughts of enlisting for WW1 at 44 years of age and why would have gone around and around in his head.
Although his family, lived in Sydney, Frederick opted to resume his life in Queensland. It was here he met his fate in 1921 at the age of 52 he drowned in a creek near Miriamvale, Central Queensland.
G. Grandad’s war medals consisted of the Star, Victory and British War Medal and in 1967 his daughter Zillah claimed a copy of the Gallipoli Medallion.
During this exploration of his history, I’ve personally looked at my G. Grandfather in a different light. While he may have been a bit of a Larrikin or free spirit, his last 5 years of life were quite the opposite.
Having a passion for travel, I intend to visit as many of these places that he did.
Tip: During the research keep notes, because there could be little gems that may create more stories.
I will now be researching his life and if I have any DNA connections based on Central Queensland at the start of the 19th century.
Do you enjoy researching your Family Tree?
Join us where we can help each other when we have blocks or share what hidden treasures you’ve discovered. Quite often the family are too busy or just not interested but we are so come and see us!
The FB group is The Story Hunter Hub
Click here for other Travel Tips and Tidbits.
If you have or would like a story put together of your Family Tree, please let me know as I’d larv to help.
It can be as a guest blogger/writer or just email me.
You know that awful feeling of ‘I think I’ve forgotten something?
Take the worry and stress out of forgetting something when you’re leaving home to travel. Use this FREE Travel Packing Checklist.
Just click on the ‘Yes please. I’m in.’ button.