LONE PINE LOSS
IN 1914, Australians went to war. Of the 330,000 who answered the call from a population of just under five million only one in three escaped death or injury. This was the beginning of WW1.
Armistice Day is commemorated every year on November 11 to mark the armistice signed between the allies of WW1 and Germany at Compiegne, France resulting in the end of hostilities on the Western Front, that took effect at “11th hour of the 11th day of the eleventh month” of 1918.
While each family personally mourned the loss of those who went to fight for King and Country, Armistice Day is a time and place to honour the more than 20 million who died during the four years of WW1.
Armistice Day encapsulates the end of ‘The Great War’, The World’s official observance of its’ war dead.
Like many other young Australian lads with high spirits and keen sense of adventure, Frederick Joseph Bayliss, son of Joseph Fletcher Bayliss and Hannah (nee Ballard) of the small village of Craboon near Dunedoo in New South Wales, answered the call to fight for King and Country.
Enlisting in Randwick in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) on August 25, 1914, Frederick was allotted to the 2nd Battalion, G Company embarking from Sydney on HMAT Suffolk, on 18 October 1914.
The 2nd Battalion was among the first infantry units raised for the AIF during the First World War. Like the first 1st, 3nd, and 4th Battalions, the 2nd was recruited from New South Wales and together these battalions, formed the 1st Brigade; raised within a fortnight of the declaration of war in August 1914, and embarking just two months later.
With the entry of Australia and New Zealand into the Great War in 1914, it became necessary for the respective Governments of these nations to requisition ships for the transport of their soldiers across the Indian Ocean to emerging battlefields in Europe and The Middle East.
However, instead of using their own fleet of coastal liners they chose instead to secure British liners and cargo ships. Altogether, 28 Australian vessels were procured. Each ship was given the class HMAT which stood for His Majesty’s Australian Transport,
The majority of the ships were then fitted out to accommodate approximately 28,000 troops. Others were employed as cargo ships. A number of ships were requisitioned solely as horse transports and often their holds were fitted out with extensive stabling to accommodate approximately 12,000 horses.
From the East Coast of Australia and New Zealand, these ships made their way to the prescribed meeting place in King George Sound in Albany, Western Australia.
The men had never heard of the Gallipoli Peninsular or the Somme, and no idea of their intended destination.
On November 1, 1914, 28,000 young Australian and New Zealanders departed from Albany in Western Australia on board a flotilla of ships bound for Egypt and the battlefields of the Great War.
The ANZAC legend was not yet born as these ships steamed out of the whaling port of Albany but just six months later, on, April 25, 1915 that legend would be forged on the beaches and rocky hillside of the Turkish coast at a place called Gallipoli.
German’s invasion of Belgium precipitated action from Britain when War was declared on August 4, 1914. The conflict would become known as the Great War. Unreserved support from British colonies was offered with commitments of available men. Australian and New Zealand answered the call. Troops initially thought they were bound for Europe or possibly England.
On reaching Egypt on December 9, 1914, a great disappointment awaited the Australian and New Zealanders when they learned that they were not to go on to England as they had hoped, but to cross France and fight the Germans. They had to leave their ships and go into camp in Egypt for a further course of training, finding themselves among approximately 50,000 men camped beside the Sphinx.
Frederick Bayliss wrote home from Cairo on December 30, 1914, asking after his family and his horse. Describing the voyage from Australia, of how they spent Christmas in the camp he mentioned each soldier had about 50 different commissioned and non-commissioned officers to obey, that it was necessary to shave every morning, and to have a button undone on any clothing resulted in being ‘pulled up for it’.
For back answering a superior officer they were liable to severe punishment, although he remarked that they were well paid at 6/-a day.
Meanwhile on Gallipoli the Turks lay in supplies and waited the attack. Their Commander Mustafa Ataturk directed his first attack for the conquest of the Gallipoli Peninsular very early in the morning on April 25.
The Royal Navy’s covering fire began at 4.30 am. Battalions came under heavy fire and during the altercation Frederick sustained a bullet wound to the left side of his head.
He was taken to the Island of Lemnos and then to Mena House Hospital in Cairo, after recovery, returned to the trenches on Gallipoli on June 6, 1915. This conflict on Anzac Cove would be written into the annals of history.
Frederick was described as a popular youngster, being 5ft 5 inches tall, weighing 8st 8lbs and because he was young looking, was called “Nipper”.
Frederick was killed in action in the Battle of Lone Pine between August 6 to 9 where an estimated dead and wounded on both sides ran into the tens of thousands.
His gravestone in Lone Pine Anzac Cemetery bears the inscription: “Believed to be buried in this Cemetery’”.
Red Cross letters to family revealed that Frederick had been killed at Lone Pine about August 6.
He had another brother, Richard who returned from the First World War and two half brothers from his father’s third marriage, who survived WW11.
Amazingly, Frederick has a half brother Wally, born in 1927 and who is still alive aged 89, and in possession of letters from Fred written more than 100 years ago.
“The family never forgot Fred. Growing up, he was always our hero,” Wally said.
“My father called his first son of his third marriage, Frederick Joseph in honour of his son, who did not return from the battlefields of WW1.
“The second Frederick Joseph was my brother,” Wally said.
Armistice Day is a time and place to honour the more than 20 million who died during the four years of WW1