Photo courtesy – Andrew Smith & Son Auctioneers U.K
The photo above shows the few remaining memories of a great Anzac who left his home and family in London and came to Australia as a young man looking to pursue a new path in life.
Circumstances around the world prevented him following that path and Edward Franz Hubert Frings would enlist with the Australian Imperial Forces a few months after settling in Sydney.
The items included in the picture above include a WW1 Victory Medal awarded to Acting/Sgt. E. F. H. Frings, FCE AIF , a few coins including a Rupee, a Russian rouble, a Peruvian Sol , a tortoiseshell stamp box, an ivory bangle, spectacles in a papier mache case and a miniature silver front prayer book.
This small collection of personal treasures were auctioned in the U.K in 2003 and hopefully found a new home where the memories of the original owner Edward Frings can be honoured.
On this day, 26th March 1918, Edward Frings was killed in action in Belgium, he was 24 years old.
126 Spr Ernest Cotterell – photo courtesy Christopher Sykes
Ernest (left ) with brother Frederick James Cotterell MC – photo courtesy Christopher Sykes
With the passing of time, memories fade and stories are forgotten, but the modern world and the vast network of information and technology that surrounds us, has helped to rediscover our history and bring new life to many personal stories.
Archiving the stories of the brave men of the 1st FCE has been a fabulous journey and it continues to reveal unexpected as well as new and exciting information.
The search for portraits of each member of the 1st Field Company Engineers whilst initially seemingly impossible, has proven to be very successful to date.
One such portrait which has come to hand was passed on courtesy of Christopher Sykes the great nephew of sapper 126 Ernest Cotterell.
The embarkation of the first Australian Imperial Forces had been delayed and rescheduled on more than one occasion and the level of anxiety among the men was noted by all ranks. Sadly for Ernest, the delay’s would fuel his own anxiety and mental suffering.
Six weeks after enlisting on the evening of the 5th October 1914 Ernest sustained a self inflicted gunshot to the head and he died instantly.
192 William Phillips mentioned in his diary the gloom that fell over the camp on news of the tragedy and briefly described the Military funeral of Sapper Cotterell. “Our boys marched to Waverley Cemetery behind gun-carriage with coffin. A fine procession, and touching ceremony.”
It is with many thanks to Christopher Sykes that the memory of both Ernest and his brother Frederick can be commemorated with the addition of their portraits.
Published The Bathurst times Friday 20th October 1916
To the long list of brave men who have offered their lives for the Empire is Lieutenant Ewen Lord Macpherson, a grandson of the late Mr. Randolph Machattie , who was in the landing at Gallipoli Peninsula, and having been invalided to England rejoined the army at Ypres recently with a commission in the Royal Field Artillery. This young officer lost his life on the 10th of August in the heavy fighting that took place near Ypres— and the following letter from the officer commanding his brigade has been received buy his parents.
” I am writing to offer you the sincerest sympathy of myself and every officer and man of tho RFA, at the death of your very gallant son, Ewen Macpherson. He was very badly hit about 4 p.m. on the 10th. inst. trying to get his men under cover; we were being heavily shelled at the time. He was carried to a trench nearby, but a heavy shell fell immediately after, killing him and the three officers who were assisting him. Although your son has only been with us three months he very easily made a name among us for fearlessness and throughout the rather heavy fighting in the Ypres salient, bore himself with great gallantry, and I had made a note of his name for recommondation for the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to. duty. We buried him the same evening in a cemetery in the valley, a chaplain of the Australian forces reading the burial service. Believe me, your sincerely,
J. D. SHERER, Lieut. Colonel, 5th Brigade, R.F.A., Lehore Artillery, B.E.F
41 Claude Douglas Turbet was only 19 years old, born in Hobart, Tasmania. His parents were William and Annie (nee Cook) – Before enlisting he had made a career for 3 years as a mattress maker in Kent st, Sydney with Good Earls Ltd. He was living with his mother at Canterbury and was already serving in the 6th Field Co. Eng. Claude had three brothers, Harold , Charles, Robert and his sister Ivy.
Claude’s older brother 748 Pte. Harold Albert Turbet was married, a bootmaker from St. Peters Sydney who joined the Infantry 1st Battalion. Claude enlisted a few weeks before his older brother, however Claude and Harold were both farewelled at Wooloomooloo wharf when they left Australia together on the HMAT Afric on the 18th October 1914
Claude was one of the original pontoon builders with Lieut. Henry Bachtold on landing day at Gallipoli and received special mention for acts of conspicuous gallantry and valuable services.
Claude’s heroic efforts on the landing day with his fellow sappers was published in the Sydney Morning Herald on Friday the 22nd October. The headline read “Heroic Australians” and Claude was “Mentioned In Orders” by the Army Corps Commander with his fellow pontoon builders. Unfortunately his name was spelt as C.D Turtset in the SMH.
On the 8th August at the “Battle for Lone Pine” Claude Turbett was “Killed in Action” . Fellow Engineer 151 Ernest Murray wrote in his dairy that poor Claude was practically blown to pieces by a shell.
Claude Turbet’s burial was officiated by Chaplain Walter Ernest Dexter.
None were more aware of the human suffering at Lone Pine than the chaplains and padre’s who worked constantly to lift the spirits of the men in the trenches. Chaplain Walter Dexter’s diary reveals the conditions that prevailed during and after the attack at Lone Pine. His entry for Tuesday August 10 reads……….
“In the Lone Pine the moving of the dead goes steadily on. All hope of getting them out for burial is given up and they are being dragged into saps and recesses, which will be filled up. The bottom of the trench is fairly clear, you have not to stand on any as you walk along and the bottom of the trench is not springy, nor do gurgling sounds come from under your feet as you walk on something soft. The men are feeling worn out but are sticking it like Britons. The stench you get used to after a bit unless a body is moved. In all this the men eat, drink and try to sleep. Smoking is their salvation and a drop of rum works wonders … Had a funeral at 6 p.m. One is obsessed with dead men and burials and I am beginning to dream of them. I suppose it is because I am so tired.”
Source: Walter Ernest Dexter, diary, 10 August 1915, AWM PR00248
Published in the The Sydney Morning Herald – 8th September 1915
“The brothers, Sapper Claude D. Turbet, killed in action, and Corporal Harold A. Turbet, wounded, are sons of Mrs. A. Turbet, of Canterbury. The brothers were at the first landing in the Dardanelles.”
On the 3rd August, just 5 days before Claude was killed in action, Claude’s brother Harold was wounded at Gallipoli by a bullet wound to the arm. The day after news of “The Brothers Turbet” was published in Australia , Claude’s brother Harold embarked for Australia carrying his wounds and a heavy heart with the loss of his brother Claude and the knowledge that he would have to return home without him after leaving together on the HMAT Afric just 12 months earlier.
The following notices were placed on the anniversary of Claude’s death in 1916
Published in Sydney Morning Herald.
Family Notices 8th August 1916
TURBET.-In loving memory of my dear brother and brother in law who was killed in action on the 8th August 1915, at Lone Pine.
He sleeps not his native land,
But neath the foreign skies,
Far from those who loved him best,
In a heroes grave he lies.
Inserted by his brother and sister-in- law, Mr and Mrs C W Turbet.
TURBET.-In memory of Sapper C D Turbet, killed in action Lone Pine, August 8th, 1915
He’s gone to rest his troubles are o’er,
He’s done with sorrow and pain,
The ill’s of this life which he patiently bore,
Will never distress him again.
Inserted by his sorrowing brother and sister in law, Harold and Rose.
Roll of Honour name projection
Claude Douglas Turbet’s name will be projected onto the exterior of the Hall of Memory on:
Buck Weatherilt looked ready to settle down in Australia, he was happily employed, had many new friends since arriving in Sydney from England in 1913 and he was surrounded with his love of motorcycles. His earlier fame and racing days in England, had been reignited in Australia, and in March 1914 he had won the New South Wales 600cc Motorcycle Championship and was looking forward to October 5th when the 1st Australian Grand Prix was scheduled.
On the 21st August 1914 Buck decided his racing days would have to wait, he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Forces and became a member of the 1st Field Company Engineers and in October 1914 instead of racing in the Grand Prix, left Australian shores for war……. Like so many men, the life he had, and the life he was planning, was postponed.
The Australian War Memorial has Archival footage of the Engineers camp at Moore Park, Sydney. Possibly filmed anywhere from late 1915 to early 1916 as still photographs from this footage were published in the “Sydney Mail’, on March 1st, 1916.
The film is in extraordinary condition and captures what it must have been like for the men of the 1st FCE as this was their home up to their embarkation a few months earlier on October 18.
It gives a panoramic view of the Engineers camp and footage of the Engineers marching out of camp with horse-drawn wagons containing pontoon bridge equipment on their way to Centennial Park.
It shows the Engineers constructing the pontoon bridges and rowing them into positions and then tested. A wooden footbridge is also constructed and showing its complexity. At the end, Signal training using flags, heliograph, telegraph and radio is demonstrated.
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.”