Frederick Gordon KING


KING, Frederick Gordon

Service Number: 3559
Enlisted: 14 September 1915
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 58th Infantry Battalion
Born: Ascot Vale, Victoria, Australia, April 1897
Home Town: Ascot Vale, Melbourne, Victoria
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Tinsmith
Died: GSW to stomach, 3rd Casualty Clearing Station, Lagnicourt, France, 27 March 1917
Cemetery: Pozières British Cemetery
Plot II, Row E, Grave 12, Pozieres British Cemetery Ovillers-La Boisselle, Pozieres, Picardie, France
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

14 Sep 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 3559, 23rd Infantry Battalion
5 Jan 1916: Involvement Private, SN 3559, 23rd Infantry Battalion
5 Jan 1916: Embarked Private, SN 3559, 23rd Infantry Battalion, HMAT Afric, Melbourne
8 Apr 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 58th Infantry Battalion
27 Mar 1917: Involvement Private, SN 3559, 58th Infantry Battalion

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Biography contributed by Evan Evans

From François Berthout

Pte 3559 Frederick Gordon King,
58th Australian Infantry Battalion

Today in the fields of the Somme, on the old trenches and the battlefields the poppies grow in silence where more than a hundred years ago, millions of young men, young boys, a whole generation fought with bravery and determination and who, for their country, for France, fell and gave their lives.They were young and brave and today, as they were in the trenches, they rest in peace, side by side, united under the rows of their white graves that the sun puts in its light to illuminate and bring to life day after day, the names and the stories of these men who did and gave so much for us and over whom, with devotion, with respect, love and gratitude, I would watch so that they are never forgotten.

Today,it is one of these young men, one of my boys of the Somme, who despite his young age, fought with bravery and whom I would like to honor with gratitude in my heart,I would like to pay a very respectful tribute to Private number 3559 Frederick Gordon King who fought in the 58th Australian Infantry Battalion and who died of his wounds 104 years ago on March 27, 1917 at the age of 18 on the Somme front.

Frederick Gordon King was born in 1899 in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, and was the son of Robert Henry and Annie Marie King, of Schofield Street, Essendon, Victoria. Before the outbreak of the war, Frederick worked as a tinsmith and lived with his parent at 220, The Parade, Ascot Vale, Melbourne, Victoria.

Enlisted on September 14, 1915 in Melbourne, Victoria, in the 23rd Australian Infantry battalion, 8th reinforcement, he embarked with his unit from Melbourne, on board HMAT A19 Afric on January 5, 1916 and sailed for Egypt where he arrived on March 4, 1916 and was admitted to the General Hospital of Heliopolis suffering from Influenza.on March 10, 1916 he was discharged to duty and was, a month later, on April 4, 1916, taken on strength in the 60th Australian Infantry Battalion and then transferred to the 58th Australian Infantry Battalion.Two months later, on June 17, 1916, Frederick joined the B.E.F (British Expeditionary Force) in Alexandria where he embarked with his battalion on board HT Transylvania and sailed for France and was disembarked in Marseilles on June 23 and was sent to the battlefields of northern France where he fought with great courage.

Frederick and the 58th Australian Infantry battalion became embroiled in its first major battle on the Western Front at Fromelles on 19 July. The battle was a disaster. The 58th had the dual role of providing carrying parties and a reserve force. The reserve force (approximately half of the battalion) was ordered to attack late in the battle and was virtually annihilated by machine-gun fire; as a whole, the 58th suffered casualties equal to almost a third of its strength. Despite the grievous losses in its battalions, the 5th Division continued to man the front in the Fromelles sector for a further two months.

After Fromelles, early in 1917, Frederick was sent with the 58th Battaillon in the Bullecourt sector and he fought again bravely at Lagnicourt. Lagnicourt, in northern France, was the scene of fierce fighting in March and April 1917. When the Germans withdrew to the Hindenburg Line in March and the British and dominion forces advanced rapidly in their wake but as they neared the Hindenburg Line they were confronted by well-prepared rearguard forces, which were only removed after difficult fights. One such action took place at Lagnicourt between 26 and 27 March. Closing with the Hindenberg Line, the British lost no time in launching a major offensive around Arras. This left their line weak in several places, including Lagnicourt. Aware of this weakness, the Germans launched a counter-stroke in the Lagnicourt area at dawn on 15 April, utilising 23 battalions. Their aim was not to permanently recapture the territory, but merely to hold it for a day and capture or destroy all the equipment and supplies they found there. They rapidly occupied Lagnicourt and captured several batteries of the 1st Australian Division's artillery. A vigourous counter-attack by four Australian battalions just after 7 am recaptured the village and most of the guns, and forced a premature German withdrawal.
Unfortunately it was during the battle of Lagnicourt that Frederick was seriously wounded by a bullet in the abdomen on March 26, 1917 and was evacuated to the 3rd Casualty Clearing Station in Pozieres, Somme, where, despite the greatest care,he died of his wounds the next day, on March 27, 1917 at the age of 18.

A witness of Frederick's death, Private number 2540 George Henry Edwards, 58th Australian Infantry battalion declared:
"I knew him,he was short,sturdy,about 21 and had brown hair.He was in AIF.I saw him wounded during an attack near Lagnicourt on March 26th,just after I had myself been hit.He was hit in the stomach.We were both carried out together and he died next day in the next bed to me in a field ambulance at Pozieres.He was not conscious after he was hit but in the field ambulance he just groaned from time to was about 4pm on the 26th that he was hit and he died in the early evening of the 27th."

Today,Frederick Gordon King rests in peace with his friends, comrades and brothers in arms at Pozieres British Cemetery, Ovillers-La-Boisselle, Somme, and his grave bears the following inscription "Though so young he did his best ".

Frederick, you who, despite your young age and without hesitation answered the call to duty, I would like, from the bottom of my heart, with the highest respects, to say thank you for all that you have done for us, for France, on these soils flowered with millions of poppies on which, under the shadows of your immaculate white grave, you rest in peace alongside your young friends and comrades who, like you, with you, served with honor and loyalty and who, side by side, gave their youth and their innocence in the hell of the trenches and in the mud of the battlefields bruised by kilometers of barbed wire on which was shed so much blood by a whole generation of men who gave their today and their hearts for noble the face of adversity, they fought together in united ranks to defend peace and freedom in the most beautiful spirit of camaraderie and gallantry under machine gun this endless nightmare, their heads bowed under their steel helmets, they had to face the inhumanity of a war which killed millions of people in bloodbaths and which shattered so many hopes and lives who, before the war, were full of promise and hope and yet, despite the fear of never returning from the front, all decided to go and fight and do their duty, to serve their country with pride and devotion to offer to their families, their loved ones, their children and future generations, a world at peace, a better world and for that, they gave everything they had alongside their brothers in arms, they fought the good fight and gave their lives for a war that would end all wars.under the dark clouds and the fury of a world at war, they stood bravely to defend every inch of ground, every position, every trench at the cost of terrible losses and saw, day and night, more and more men, their brothers, their friends who fell under the relentless steel of the shells which tore the sky and the earth in gigantic flames in which were raised the mud and the blood which rained on the faces of young and innocent men.They were young, full of will and courage and through the horrors of war they became men who knew the value of life after seeing death lurking silently around them, with nowhere to hide and to escape, they could see, over the parapet, lands devastated by the shelling of the artillery and the crossed and enraged fire of the machine guns which mowed down their comrades before them and they knew that soon it would be their turn to come out of the trenches to walk towards their destinies under the protection of god in whom they placed their faith and their the interminable wait for the final whistle, their hearts beating to the beat of the drums, their fingers clenched on the wood of their rifles and the steel of their bayonets, raising their eyes to the sky, they sent their last thoughts to their families and loved ones for whom, with courage, behind their officers and alongside their comrades, they would move forward with confidence and determination and charge heroically through a deluge of bullets under which, after a few steps, in the mud and the poppies, they fell fearlessly because they knew they did their best.Forever young, they rest today in peace in the hands and in the heart of a friendly country which will always have for them, for each of them, the greatest respect, they will always be in our greatest care so that their memory lives on forever because to remember them is to make them live.we will never forget what they did and sacrificed for us and to be present today for them and their families and to watch over them is for me, more than an honor, it is a pride, a privilege, I would forever be their devoted guardian so that their memories and their stories, just like the poppies that grow between the rows of their graves, live forever, not only in the stone of their graves and memorials but also in the love of our hearts and in our thougts where they will be remembered forever with the greatest love and respect. Thank you Frederick, for everything.At the going down of the sun and in the morning,we will remember him,we will remember them.