Frederick Mathew (Fred) GREENHALGH


GREENHALGH, Frederick Mathew

Service Number: 2382
Enlisted: 23 July 1915
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 18th Infantry Battalion
Born: Sutton, Warwickshire, England, 3 March 1877
Home Town: Singleton, Northumberland, New South Wales
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Labourer
Died: Pneumonia, France, 19 October 1918, aged 41 years
Cemetery: Ste. Marie Cemetery, Le Havre
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Singleton War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

23 Jul 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 2382, 2nd Pioneer Battalion
5 Oct 1915: Involvement Private, SN 2382, 18th Infantry Battalion
5 Oct 1915: Embarked Private, SN 2382, 18th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Themistocles, Sydney

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Biography contributed by David Greenhalgh

Fred Greenhalgh was a labourer in Newcastle NSW when he enlisted in the 18th battalion at the age of 37. He transferred to the 2nd pioneer battalion on 9/3/1916, landing in France on 26/3/1916. He remained with the 2nd Pioneers for the rest of the war. He suffered various minor wounds including a fractured ankle and being gassed, before dying from pneumonia on 19/10/1918.

Fred Greenhalgh's letters, which are in the AWM (ref MSS1647), show that he had a very low opinion of the army, those in charge of him, and the war generally.  He found Egypt to be interesting, but after arriving in France, he increasingly complained about censoring of his letters ("we can't say what part we're in although it is in the paper"); the officers (29/1/1917: "you would think we were all dogs under them but when you read your papers over there you would think we were getting treated like kings but we will get over it and have better sense next time"); the war itself (on 22/2/1918 he predicted the war would never be fought to a finish, so terms should be sought, and even in July 1918 thought the war would still go for years), and the future of those wounded (on 29/7/18 he forecast that his brother in law, who had been badly wounded at Passchendaele, would get a lot of sympathy while the war was on, but would be forgotten afterwards). 

Most of Fred Greenhalgh's letters cover family news and issues, but he clearly took a very sour and bitter view of the task on which he was engaged.