Frederick Beswick Cross was my husband’s grand uncle.  He was born at Homebush, Victoria on 30 July 1893, the fifth of ten children of Frederick James Cross and Ann Jane née Plowright.

Fred joined the Australian Imperial Force on 11 May 1915 at Maryborough shortly after the news of Gallipoli.  He was aged 21 years 10 months and his occupation prior to enlistment was labourer.  His religion was Roman Catholic. (National Archives of Australia: Australian Imperial Force, Base Records Office; B2455, First Australian Imperial Force Personnel Dossiers, 1914-1920; Cross Frederick Beswick : SERN 1689/2021 : POB Talbot VIC : POE Maryborough VIC : NOK W Cross Ethel)

On his first medical examination at Maryborough on 10 May his height was given as 5’9½“. He was re-examined in Melbourne on 15 May where his height was adjusted to 5’7½”

He was assigned to the 2/23 reinforcements in June and then he re-enlisted again at Broadmeadows on 24 August (page 10 of dossier).  The outcome of his first service period is not clear but his initial attestation forms are stamped with “Deserter see BRM No. 7 192.”  Late in his file (page 47) a handwritten note states that his date of enlistment is to be taken from his first attestation papers as 11 May 1915 and “do not show “desertion”. CC’s ruling.” On re-enlistment he was assigned to the 8th reinforcements of the 22nd battalion.

Uncle Fred (Brother of Peter (Ernest) Young’s mother, Elizabeth Cross)

Fred embarked at Melbourne on 26 August 1915 on HMAT “Anchesis”.  

In December 1915 he was admitted first to the 19th General Hospital and then transferred to the 2nd Australian General Hospital (in Egypt at the time) with enteric fever.  Enteric fever, also called typhoid fever, is an acute infectious disease characterized by high fever and intestinal inflammation, spread by food or water contaminated with the bacillus Salmonella typhosa.

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Fred was discharged from hospital in April 1916.  He transferred to  the British Expeditionary Force and disembarked at Marseille on 18 May and joined his battalion on 7 July.

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In January 1917 he was admitted to the Casualty Clearing Station with mumps, later transferred to hospital and discharged to rejoin the 22nd Battalion on 19 February.  On 25 February he was wounded in action and admitted to the 5th Field Ambulance with a penetrating wound to the cornea.  He did not serve on the front line again but was transferred to hospital in England in March 1917. 

After convalescence the AIF assigned him to administrative jobs in England including with the 2nd A A Hospital, Admin headquarters and AIF Kit stores.

In the last week of Feb. 1917 the 22nd Battalion was manning a line of outposts facing Warlencourt. The 25th of February was a  difficult day for the 22nd battalion.  It is not clear if Fred was wounded in the morning or evening; there were two separate engagements.

Australian War memorial image ID number E00214; Unknown Australian Official Photographer; Black & white – Glass original half plate negative; Place made France: Picardie, Somme, near Le Sars; Date made 28 February 1917; Description: Near Le Barque, France. View of a support trench in the Maze. This spot marked the position of a German ‘pineapple’ bomb. In the foreground, smoking a cigarette and wearing trench waders, is 1365 Private P Harding of A Company, 3rd Battalion.

Australian War memorial image ID number E00353; Unknown Australian Official Photographer; Black & white – Glass original half plate negative; Place made France: Picardie, Somme, Le Sars; Date made March 1917; Description:View of the smashed German light railway engine in the old no man’s land, between Le Sars and Warlencourt in March 1917. The Butte de Warlencourt can be seen in the background.
Australian War memorial image ID number E00431; Unknown Australian Official Photographer; Black & white – Glass original half plate negative; Place made France: Picardie, Somme, Le Sars; Date made 20 March 1917; Description: Four Australian soldiers bringing in wounded through the main street of Le Sars. Along this frozen road, which at that time was swept at night by machine gun fire, stretcher cases were often carried. When the thaw set in and the country returned to the conditions of a quagmire, there were occasions when it took up to six or seven hours to carry a wounded man the comparatively short distance from the line to the aid post.

In February 1918 Fred Cross married an English woman, Ethel Dunkley at Our Lady of Dolours Servite Church (Roman Catholic), Fulham Road SW10.  In July 1919 he sailed for Australia on the “Main” arriving in October.  he was discharged from the AIF in November 1919 as medically unfit – disability – enucleation of left eye.

Correspondence with Ethel’s family (prompted by this blog entry)  has revealed how Fred and Ethel met.

Ethel’s closest sister, Ellen,  worked in a munitions factory during the war. She used to write notes to the  soldiers and put them in with the ammunition. A lot of them wrote back and she  had too many to deal with so she gave some to Ethel. One was from Fred. When  he lost his eye (as did his brother George) he ended up in a London hospital  and Ethel went to visit him. Both families objected to the marriage. After  their eldest daughter Peggy was born they came back to rural Victoria. Ethel  had a terrible trip out and did not always enjoy living in Australia.  

Ethel came to Australia with Fred and baby Peggy in October 1919 on the “Main”.
Departed Plymouth 29 July under Captain  H. W. N. Evans.
First went to live in Homebush near Ballarat on family farm but later moved to the city [Melbourne] because Ethel (a city girl) had trouble coping with life in the bush.

Fred and Ethel had three daughters. The oldest was born in England.

Fred died in 1959. Ethel died in 1971.

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