Frederick Charles TUCKERMAN

TUCKERMAN, Frederick Charles

Service Number: 4618
Enlisted: 28 July 1915, Bendigo, Victoria
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 2nd Pioneer Battalion
Born: White Hills, Victoria, September 1891
Home Town: Bendigo, Greater Bendigo, Victoria
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Labourer
Memorials: Bendigo White Hills Arch of Triumph
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World War 1 Service

28 Jul 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 4618, Bendigo, Victoria
28 Jan 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 4618, 6th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
28 Jan 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 4618, 6th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Themistocles, Melbourne
5 Aug 1916: Wounded AIF WW1, Private, SN 4618, 2nd Pioneer Battalion, Battle for Pozières , Remaining on duty
24 Aug 1919: Discharged AIF WW1, Private, SN 4618, 2nd Pioneer Battalion

Help us honour Frederick Charles Tuckerman's service by contributing information, stories, and images so that they can be preserved for future generations.

Biography contributed by Jack Coyne

Twenty three year old, Frederick Charles Tuckerman  (AIF 4618) enlisted on July 28, 1915. He would be following his older brother Robert Tuckerman who was already on his way to the battlefields on the Gallipoli peninsula.

Fred was the youngest son of Thomas and Mary Anne Tuckerman with their address being 1 White Hills Rd, Bendigo. (Now Napier st, near the former Suburban Hotel) 

There eldest son Thomas was married and living in Melbourne and would also join his two younger brothers at the front in 1917 at the fair age of 38.

Fred may have been lucky to join to have survived his teenage years to enlist in the AIF. 

The Bendigo Advertiser reports of  two near death experiences for the young lad, at age 14 and then again a year later. 

On January 9, 1906 in a report titled ‘A PLUCKY RESCUE’

While several lads were bathing in a deep dam at Emu Point on Thursday last, one of them Fred Tuckerman, aged 14, who resides with his parents on the White Hills-road, got out of his depth His companions, whose ages ranged from 12 to 16 years, were, with the exception of Samuel Phillips, greatly alarmed at seeing him on the point of drowning. Phillips promptly went to Tuckermans rescue, and succeeded in reaching him just as he rose to the surface of the water for the third time. After a desperate effort Philips landed the boy safely on the bank. He quickly came round, and bevond a severe fright young Tuckerman was little the worse for his adventure. Phillips who is only 15 years of age is to be commended for his plucky behavior. He is the oldest son of Mr. Samuel Phillips, of White Hills Road.

Just a year later, Frederick is again featured in the Bendigo Advertiser on the third of January 1907.

   YOUTH SERIOUSLY INJURED.  A youth named Frederick Tuckerman aged 15 years, residing at White Hills road, near the Suburban hotel, met with a serious injury yesterday afternoon. He is employed by Mr. Borrell, tomato grower, of White Hills, and was attending to a lorry load of tomatoes. The horse suddenly backed with the lorry, jamming Tuckerman against the stable. It was seen that he was seriously injured, and he was removed to the hospital. On examination at the institution it was found that the unfortunate youth had received serious internal injuries.

Obviously, war can't be any more dangerous than living in White Hills as a teenager,so Fred enlists. He lists his occupation as a labourer and from a farewell notice in the Bendigo Advertiser in August 1915 we can establish he was working at the Bendigo Pottery in Epsom.   “A large gathering of friends assembled at the Turf Tavern Hotel, Epsom, on Friday evening to bid farewell to two of the Bendigo Pottery hands, namely, Messrs. L.Hobson and F. Tucknrman, also Mr. W. Mustcn, of Epsom”.

 

Fred didn’t have to travel far to commence training with his unit. Initially enlisted into the 14th Rifles of the 6th Battalion the training base was the Bendigo racecourse, less than a mile from the Pottery where he worked and two miles from home.

   He and his unit would leave Bendigo in the December of 1915 and embark for Europe from Port Melbourne on January 28, 1916. After a month of sailing on HMAT Themistocles they would arrive in the exotic port city of Alexandria, Egypt on February 28. Fred was to spend only a month in training in Egypt where he and fellow new recruits would reinforce the depleted AIF troops who had survived the horrors of the failed Gallipoli campaign.

It is not known whether young Fred was able to reunite with his older brother Robert in Alexandria in the three weeks of time they overlap there. Robert has survived Gallipoli, landing back in Egypt on January 10, 1916 only to disembark for the western front on March 26, just three days ahead of Fred.    

Fred’s record states he has now joined the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and arrives in the southern French port of Marseilles on April 4, 1916. From here is the train trip of a life time through the interior of France.

Charles Bean writes -

“The journey of almost all units through southern France was made in gloriously fine weather. Its course lay for a day beside the River Rlione, whence the troops looking eastward could see the horizon bordered by mountains gradually rising towards the Alps-which were visible-and the nearer lowlands scattered over with red-roofed farms surrounded by orchards then in full blossom, and with fields and copses all bursting into the fresh delicate green of the European spring.                                                                                       To Australians, accustomed to the more sombre evergreens of the bush, and coming straight from months in the desert, this country was a fairyland-something guessed at from the picture books of childhood, but beautiful beyond dreams.’

Fred arrives in mid June (summer) at the northern port city of Estaples, the main British base for the western front. 

Later that month his record states he joins his battalion from the Reinforcements and two weeks later his brother Robert somehow manages to get Fred transferred to the Second Pioneers Battalion on July 5, obviously to keep a watchful eye on his younger brother.

We read of this transfer in a letter published in The Bendigo Advertiser written by his brother Robert where he writes to their parents back in White Hills – “I have Fred with me now. I got him transferred over to the battalion that I am in. He has had an experience that I don't think he realised what it was like until he got in it. It was a big thing to be in the battle of the Somme, or rather the big push.”

Wikipedia tells us that the AIF Pioneer Battalion were                    ‘Trained as infantrymen, they were also tasked with some engineer functions, with a large number of personnel possessing trade qualifications from civilian life. As such, they were designate In early 1916, the Australian Army was reorganised ahead of its transfer to the Western Front in Europe. A total of five pioneer battalions were raised by the AIF at this time, with one being assigned to each of the five infantry divisions that the Australians deployed to the battlefield in France and Belgium. Tasked with digging trenches, labouring, constructing strong points and light railways, and undertaking battlefield clearance, the troops assigned to the pioneers required construction and engineering experience in addition to basic soldiering skills. Formed from volunteers drawn from the state of Victoria, the battalion consisted of four companies, under a headquarters company. The battalion subsequently served on the Western Front from mid-1916 until the end of the war. To identify the battalion's personnel, they were issued with a purple and white Unit Colour Patch. The colours were in common with other Australian pioneer battalions, while the diamond shape denoted that the unit was part of the 2nd Division. The battalion's first major action was fought around the Pozieres heights in late July 1916, during which it suffered over 200 casualties during a two-week period. Despite the heavy losses at Pozieres, the pioneers subsequently took part in the Battle of Mouquet Farm in July and August 1916’.

 It appears at this battle at Mouquet Farm on the Somme that Fred is wounded in action on August 5, 1916. He is treated in the field with the record saying ‘Still at duty’.   

He stays fighting with Second Pioneers being admitted to hospital in December 1916 for two months of convalescence returning to the front in mid February,1917.    

Wikipedia again tells the Second Pioneer Battalion fought on-   

In 1917, after the Germans withdrew to the Hindenburg Line, and the pioneers were committed to a series of actions aimed at attacking these defences as part of Allied efforts to follow up the Germans. This saw them take part in the fighting during the Second Battle of Bullecourt in May, and the Third Battle of Ypres later in the year. In early 1918, they helped to defend against the Spring Offensive in early 1918. In August 1918, the 2nd Pioneers supported the Allied advance during the Hundred Days Offensive, which ultimately brought about an end to the war.

Their final action came around Montbrehain amidst the Battle of St. Quentin Canal in early October 1918. In the lead up to the battle, the 2nd Pioneers carried out bridging operations over the Somme, but later they were used primarily as infantry during the assault on the village due to heavy losses amongst 2nd Division's infantry battalions earlier in the year. During the battalion, the 2nd Pioneers were moved into the line at night, taking over from an exhausted brigade, and holding their position throughout the night until relieved. Later, the pioneers joined the "mopping up operations", taking up a position to the flank of the 21st and 24th Infantry Battalions, in what historian William Westerman describes as the "most successful use of Australian pioneers in a combat capacity in the entire war".

 Enduring this amount of fighting, it is not surprising that Fred Tuckerman is again admitted to hospital a number of times in 1917 and 1918. In another post in the Bendigo Advertiser we see a photo of Fred in uniform and learn that his poor mother Mary Anne has been informed Fred is in hospital suffering from ‘Trench feet’ and ‘shell shock’.  

Fred rejoines his unit after each bout of convelescence to take part in August and September 1918 for the crucial battles and victories at Mont St Quentin, Peronne and St. Quentin which broke the German High Command’s willingness to wage to war. 

 Fred along his Second Pioneer comrades was repatriated back to Australia on HMAT Nester in early 1919. He was discharged from service on August 24, 1919. 

Fred Tuckerman is remembered by the people of White Hills and his name is inscribed in brass on the White Hills Arch of Triumph along with 63 other sons of the area. His two older brothers Robert and Thomas who grew up in White Hills and were fortunate to also return from the Great War are not included on the Honour Board possibly because both had married and had moved to Melbourne prior to enlisting.  

 

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