Fred­er­ick Bayliss

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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

Fred­er­ick Bayliss

Wally Bayliss

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