The information for this post was shared by David Jones.
The son of Thomas and Phoebe (nee Birch), Frederick Thomas was born in Wolverhampton in 1883 and lived at 26 Cobden Street, Blakenhall. The family also lived for a time in Cross Street, Blakenhall. In 1884 the family emigrated to Melbourne, Australia, settling in Kew. Here Thomas had a tailoring business, and later a Mercer and Drapery shop until his death in 1905. Phoebe, Emma and Frederick carried on the business until the outbreak of war in 1914.
Frederick enlisted in the 29th Battalion, 1st Australian Infantry Force, in 1915. In Egypt he transferred to the newly-formed 5th Australian Division Artillery, training as a Gunner and joining the 13th Field Artillery Brigade. Frederick’s first taste of war came in the ill-fated Battle of Fromelles on 19-21 July 1916, when 5,583 casualties where recorded in a 24 hour period, the fledgling Australian Infantry Force’s blackest day in any war. Adolf Hitler also lurked in and around the German ‘pillbox’ stronghold known as the ‘Sugarloaf’, where British and Australian forces were mercilessly mown down by rapid machine gun fire, causing immense losses to the BEF as well.
Frederick was sent to ‘Gas School’ after having been gassed at Fromelles, but he survived the war and returned home to Australia in 1919, returning to his former tailoring trade. He settled in Mildura, Victoria, where he passed away in 1933. In 2014, Frederick and two other First World War servicemen were given a re-dedication ceremony and refurbished grave and headstones at Mildura Cemetry by the Australian Returned Soldier’s League and War Graves Commission.