250 Frederick Wicks was four weeks shy of the minimum enlistment age of 19 and just to make sure he would not be rejected he had a letter from his father giving consent to enlist. Fred was a young carpenter born in “Jaspers Brush” Berry NSW and living with his father in Ryde NSW.
Frederick came from a large family of 6 sisters and 4 brothers – His mother Annie Eva Wicks ( nee Miller) had died only 6 months before he enlisted, she was 56.
His father Thomas was a carter for the Ryde council and was proud to have both his son’s Fred and George (Sid) join the AIF.
His letters to his sister Eva, show a young man seemingly unaffected by the dangers of daily life at Anzac Cove.
He was “still going strong” and later describing being wounded by shrapnel as nothing serious and souveniring the pieces removed from his back and shoulder after the operation……. Such was the spirit of this young Anzac.
The following news article in The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate , in August 1915 accompanied a picture of 250 Frederick Charles Wicks
SAPPER F. C. (FRED) WICKS.
This patriotic soldier is the youngest son of Mr. T. Wicks, of Glebe-street, Ryde, carter for the Ryde Council. He is 19 years of age and left with the Expeditionary Forces on December 22nd last. He is attached to the First Field Company of the Engineers.
Writing to his sister, Eva, from the Dardanelles on June 3rd, he says: —
“We had a pretty Warm reception on landing ashore at 4 a.m. on April 25th — bullets and shrapnel flying all round us. Have had three weeks here and still going strong. I have met Russel Thornton, Syd Adams, and H. Craig on the field, and also J.Luckett.”
His next communication, also to his sister, was from Gallipoli Peninsula, and was dated the 10th of June.
“Just a few lines….to let you know I am still in the land of the living and enjoying the best of health. . . . We had a pretty tough problem landing here on April. 25th, All troops were brought close to land on torpedo boats and then dumped into rowing craft. The enemy were not satisfied, with waiting for us to land but started pegging into us in the torpedo boats.
After getting into the ‘ pleasure boats’ (but not for pleasure) we started out for land with shrapnel and bullets flying all round the boats, but the Turks are very bad shots. As soon as the boats hit bottom we had to jump out, waist deep, and for our lives for cover. All this was done before 4 o’clock in the morning. I put in the whole day dodging about and having a shot where opportunity offered. Many times during the day, whilst under the cover of a bush, the Turks had their machine guns firing all around (about 200 to 300 bullets per minute). The bullets from the machine guns were cutting the tops off the bushes and spreading them all over me. Shells were also flying in all directions. Tho warships were out from shore about six miles, and they were giving the Turks some ‘hurry up.’
“To hear the battleships firing is just like one continuous roar of thunder…………All hands have got dug outs in tho side of a hill and it is very funny, when a shell comes over to so the men duck for those shelters just like a lot of rabbits scurrying to their burrows. Thrice have I and my mate had narrow escapes from shells, which were literally landing all round us. – One landed at the foot and another at the head of our dug out, while a third plumped right inside the dug out and blow everything to pieces. We were lucky enough to be out working at the time and I have been laid up this week with a bad foot. We were working on a barge and I trod on a piece of timber with a spike in it, the spike penetrating the bottom of my foot. It will be right again in a few days. About a fortnight ago I witnessed the sinking of one of our battleships.” (Just here the censor had a go.)
The next letter Fred wrote was from Cairo; and was dated July 3rd.
“Dear Father, Sisters, and Brothers,………..,……… no doubt you will be surprised on noticing the above address, to find that I am back in Egypt again. I happened to be on the unlucky side on June 19 by getting wounded on the right shoulder with a bit a shrapnel. I happened to be out working in the open, near a black smith’s forge, which was kicking up a devil of a noise when all of a sudden a shell burst in front of me. Of course I had no time to duck for cover. All of a sudden some thing seemed to catch me on the shoulder and down I went like a log.
I was lucky enough to be near a hospital and so was soon attended to. The bullet entered the front of my right shoulder and went down my back as far as the top of my trousers. It missed the collar bone and lung and did no serious damage. I had it in my back for two days and then went under an operation when it was extracted. I have it in my pocket now and am likely to stick to it. I am still in the hospital and likely to remain here for another week or two before returning to the scene of operations. Nothing broken, but have still got the stiffness in the arm and chest. It is wearing away tip top. Excuse scribble as arm is stiff and I’m in hurry to catch mail. Fred.”