Service Number: 16130
Enlisted: Not yet discovered
Last Rank: Second Lieutenant
Last Unit: Australian Flying Corps (AFC)
Born: Dubbo, New South Wales, Australia, date not yet discovered
Home Town: Walcha, Walcha, New South Wales
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Station Overseer
Died: Pneumonia, Gibraltar, 16 February 1919, age not yet discovered
Cemetery: Gibraltar (North Front) Cemetery
Grave A. 4341.
Memorials: Walcha Road Memorial
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World War 1 Service

11 Nov 1916: Involvement Private, 16130, Army Medical Corps (AIF), --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '23' embarkation_place: Sydney embarkation_ship: HMAT Suevic embarkation_ship_number: A29 public_note: ''
11 Nov 1916: Embarked Private, 16130, Army Medical Corps (AIF), HMAT Suevic, Sydney
16 Jan 1919: Involvement Second Lieutenant, Australian Flying Corps (AFC), --- :awm_ww1_roll_of_honour_import: awm_service_number: awm_unit: Australian Flying Corps awm_rank: Second Lieutenant awm_died_date: 1919-01-16
Date unknown: Honoured Military Medal

A airman far from home

Second Lieutenant Noel Fitzpatrick AAMC/AFC AIF

William John Noel Fitzpatrick was born in Dubbo NSW on Christmas Day 1893. He was educated at De La Salle College Armidale and St Ignatius College Hunters Hill. At the time of his enlistment in the AIF in Sydney in March 1916 he was employed as an overseer on his Irish born father Dr Louis John Fitzpatrick's property at Aberfeldie Station near Walcha in NSW. Noel had one sibling a sister Olga born in 1898. Louis Fitzpatrick had served as a surgeon in the 1882 Egyptian War and was later a Surgeon Superintendent in the NSW Immigration Service.

On his enlistment Noel was allocated to the Australian Army Medical Corps, possibly because of his father’s profession. He trained at the Liverpool NSW army hospital before embarking for overseas on the 11th of November 1916 on HMAT A29 Suevic, arriving in Devonport UK on the 30th of January 1917.

Noel proceeded to France in early March where he was taken on the strength of the AAMC 6th Field Ambulance. In June he was detached to the 1st ANZAC Army HQ and later K Corps Supply Column. In early September he was granted short leave to travel to the UK. At some stage during the war his father Louis, who had retired as a doctor returned to England to work in a hospital, so it was possible this leave was to visit him.

Noel returned to the front on the 12th of September and on that day he distinguished himself in an action for which he would later be awarded the military medal.

The citation for the award reads;

“On the 12th of September 1917 when in charge of a motor car near Zillebeke, he left shelter during heavy shell fire to take a wounded officer to the dressing station.
He returned to Zillebeke and helped to carry a wounded soldier 50 yards to the car. Shells were bursting close to the car, which was hit by splinters. His actions displayed courage and coolness and set a fine example."

The officer Noel carried to safety was Major Meyer and on his return Noel picked up a second officer, Lawson as well as the injured soldier.

Within weeks Noel had been selected to transfer to the Australian Flying Corps (AFC) and he returned to the UK where was promoted to Aviation Cadet and he undertook Flying training at the RFC's School of Aviation at Reading.

At some point during his time in England Noel met and married Alexandra Helen Gordon, who was residing at Gains Lodge, Bicton in Shrewsbury, Shropshire. Clearly it was not a liaison which was a success. In June 1918 Noel was admitted to hospital with a virulent strain of Syphilis and he would spend the last six months of the war undergoing treatment.

In November 1918, Alexandra registered the baptism of a son, John Niel Osborne Gordon Fitzpatrick, who was born on October the 30th. She named Noel as the father but erroneously stated that he was a Major in the “ARAF”. The RAF had formed seven months before from the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service and presumably she thought the AFC had become the “Australian Royal Air Force”.

Other than her being recorded as Noel's next of kin, there is no other mention of her, or the details of their marriage, in Noel’s service records.

In early November, shortly after the armistice, Noel requested that he be allowed to resign his commission to remain in England to support his father Louis who had become ill. He made no reference to the fact that he had a wife and son in the UK in his application, indicating that they had seperated. His file indicates he became a victim of conflicting sections of the AIF's bureaucracy, i.e. AIF HQ who were processing his application and the medical services who were assessing if he was fit to be repatriated. Although not fully recovered He was eventually deemed fit to travel and immediately embarked for Australia at Devonport on the 9th of February 1919 on the transport HMAT Ascanius.

When the Ascanius reached Gibraltar five days later Noel was seriously ill with Pneumonia, having caught the “Spanish” Influenza virus which was sweeping the world. He was transferred to the Gibraltar Military Hospital where he passed away on the 16th of February 1919.

The AIF would formally cancel his application to be discharged in England in June 1919, on the grounds that he had already left the UK.

In 1919 Lawson who Noel had rescued in 1917 wrote to Louis and recounted the events of that day.

Second Lieutenant William John Noel Fitzpatrick is buried in the Roman Catholic Section of the Gibraltar North Front Cemetery.

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