Frederick Gordon Brettle


About Frederick Gordon

  • Name
    Frederick Gordon
  • Initials
    F G
  • Surname
  • Date of Birth
    19 June 1896
  • Birth town
    41 Bridge Street, Wednesbury, Walsall, England
  • Resided town
    Branxton, New South Wales, Australia
  • Commemorated
  • Nationality
  • Place of death
    Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  • Date of death
    6 August 1966
  • Married
  • Occupation

Service Information

  • Army - Australian Army

  • Service Number
  • Rank
  • Regiment
    Australian Imperial Forces
  • Battalion
    30th Battalion 4th Reinforcements


Frederick Gordon Brettle was born in Walsall, Staffordshire to Joseph, a sockets stamper and Clara (nee Penn).  Frederick was one of fourteen children born to Joseph and Clara who had married in 1877.  In 1901, Frederick, aged two, was living at 344 Pleck Road, Walsall with Joseph (41), a blacksmith, Clara (41) and siblings Ellen (22), Phoebe (20) a hardware warehouse woman, Josiah (18) serving in the Army with the 1st South Staffordshires, William (15), railway porter, Florence (12), Clara (10), Samuel (9), Wilfred (6), Grace (4) and Violet, 11 months.  In 1911 the Brettles were living at 41 Bridge Street, Wednesbury with seven of their children and indicated that only 12 of their 14 children still survived.  Whilst researching it was found that Frederick’s surname was variously Brettle, Brittle and Brettell.

On the 20 March 1913, Joseph and Clara and four of their children, including Frederick emigrated to New South Wales, Australia.   They sailed from Liverpool on the The White Star Line ‘Irishman’ and arrived in Sydney, Australia two months later, on 23 May 1913.

Frederick joined the Australian Army on the 20 September 1915, giving his age as 19 years 4 months.  However, his date of birth is given as 19 June 1898, which would make him just 17 years and 4 months.  His records include written permission for his enlistment from his parents.  The Army’s enlistment age was 21, or 18 with parent’s permission, and many lied about their age.  His records tell us he was 5ft 7¾in tall, weighed 130lbs, had blue eyes with fair hair and complexion and was a Methodist.

He trained at Broadmeadows Training Camp, Victoria, for the reception and training of recruits for the Australian Imperial Force at the beginning of WWI.

Fredericks’s unit sailed from Sydney on ‘His Majesty’s Australian Transport (HMAT) A67 Orsova’ on the 11 March 1916.  They travelled via Alexandria to arrive in Marseilles on the 29 June 1916 over three months later, where he joined the 30th Battalion on the 6 August 1916.  On the 5 November 1916, he was evacuated to England on the Hospital Ship Newhaven suffering from trench foot, and on 13 November he was admitted to the 1st Eastern General Hospital, Cambridge. He was discharged from hospital for a period of leave on 28 December 1916 and then reported to Perham Down, Wiltshire for convalescence on 8 January 1917.  He passed through Peterborough East Station on 28 December 1916, whilst travelling via London to Wiltshire and wrote in the visitors’ book “Home Sweet Home far across the seas”.

Frederick proceeded overseas to France on 27 May 1917 and re-joined his unit on the 27 June.  He became ill with scabies and was admitted to a field hospital on 21 January 1918.  He returned to England on 24 April 1919 and on 14 May 1919, he went absent without leave for two days for which he had to forfeit five days pay when he was charged on 24 May.  He left England to return to Australia on 10 June 1919 on board HMAT Port Lyttelton and disembarked on 5 August 1919.  He was discharged from the army on 13 October 1919.  Frederick was awarded the 15 Star, British War and Allied Victory Medals

Frederick married Annie Dixon Dunn in Newcastle, New South Wales (NSW) in 1924.  They moved to Auburn, Sydney, where Frederick’s parents were living, where they settled to raise their family.  Frederick gained employment with the NSW Government Railways, attaining his trade credentials as an “interlocking fitter and turner.” In the late 1930s they moved back to Newcastle with their young family, and where his daughter Judith (Hinshelwood) was born in 1944, when Frederick was 46 years old. Frederick was based in Newcastle City where he worked alongside another fitter in the Signals Division who were responsible for the smooth running, upkeep and repair, of all railway signals/railway gates/signal box levers etc. Their area covered not only the Newcastle city and suburban area, but also a wider area of the Hunter Valley, NSW.  He continued to work for the railway in this capacity until his retirement in 1959.  Frederick died on 6 August 1966 in Sydney, aged 68 years.

We are grateful to Frederick’s daughter Judith Hinshelwood, for the information she has been able to provide.  She lives in Fern Bay, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia.          

Frederick’s older brothers Samuel and Wilfred (aka William) also served with the Australian Imperial Force and both survived. Two other brothers, William and Joseph (aka Josiah) served with the British Army. Joseph joined the 1st South Staffordshires in 1900 and re-enlisted with the 13th Reserve Cavalry Regiment in August 1914 only to be medically discharged with rheumatic fever in May 1915.




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