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.
|page 40 of WWI dossier|
|page 39 of WWI dossier|
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.
|page 43 of WWI dossier|
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.
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.
|page 41 of WWI dossier|