Frederick Alfred Weiss

Frederick Alfred Weiss.
Accessed 20 January 2018.
School teacher

Born: 10 October 1892, Anna Bay, New South Wales, Australia
Died: 19 July 1916, Fromelles, France

Father: Walter Herbert Weiss, 1869-1955
Mother: Amy Selina Blanch, 1873-1925

Australian Imperial Forces service number: 2932, then 3578a

Biographical information
Known as Fred.

Fred was born at Anna Bay, the second child of Walter and Amy Weiss.

Fred went into teaching, like his father. One must assume he learnt the skills from his father. Fred taught as an assistant teacher at Barmedman Public School from October 1914, where he was very well liked by parents and students, and then was transferred from the start of 1915 as a relieving teacher at West Wyalong Public School. He resigned his post at Barmedman (while relieving at West Wyalong) to enlist.

Fred enlisted on 25 July 1915, at Liverpool, New South Wales. He was 22 years old. He was originally assigned the service number of 2932, but was assigned a new number of 3578a after his deployment was delayed because he came down with the measles in September 1915. In October, while back in Erina, at a send-off surprise party for him Fred was given a sheepskin vest, a filled pocket wallet, and some handkerchiefs. The local Matcham Red Cross Society also gave him a knitted woollen muffler. He was originally assigned to the 4th Reinforcement of the 13th Battalion, then assigned to the 11th Reinforcement of the 4th Battalion after he was delayed from deploying because of the measles. He transferred to the 53rd Infantry Battalion in February 1916.

On 9 September 1916, the Daily Telegraph (p. 11) carried a story reporting that Fred was officially "missing in France" since July 19, 1916. He had been in France for less than a month, having arrived at Marseilles on the "Royal George" on 26 June 1916. A report in The Wyalong Advocate and Mining, Agricultural and Pastoral Gazette (23 September 1916, p. 4) stated that a letter from Fred had been received in Barmedman, dated a day before he was listed as missing, and that "his mother, who lives at Gosford, is completely prostrated by the news to hand."

A Court of Enquiry held in the field on 2 September 1917 found that on the day Private Frederick Alfred Weiss was reported missing - 19 July 1916 - he was actually killed. Testimony from Percy Dickson of the 53rd Battalion stated that Fred was shot in the stomach, dropping a few yards from the parapet of their trench and subsequent heavy shelling would almost certainly have blown him up. On 27 September 1917 The Gosford Times reported that the official report of Weiss' death had been received a week earlier.

In 1920 an Honour Roll for the Great War 1914-1918 was unveiled at West Wyalong Public School, with Fred's name inscribed on it, in commemoration of his sacrifice. His name is also recorded on the Erina War Memorial.

On 8 August 1921 Fred's father Walter Weiss wrote to the Officer in Charge of Base Records at Victoria Barracks, Melbourne, with information from Driver Frederick Charles Vicary who personally spoke to Fred just before the attack at Fromelles where he was killed, in order to attempt to ascertain the last resting place of his son. Frederick Vicary stated that he had called at Fred's Battalion Headquarters and had been told by Private Dickson that he had seen him fall with a bullet wound in the stomach, and that this happened between the [illegible] and the Germans support Trenches. He asked as many men from the 53rd Battalion as he could but was not able to get any further information. He believed that he was blown up by shell fire. Interestingly, Frederick Vicary was now Fred Weiss' brother-in-law, having married his sister Amy Weiss in June 1921. Frederick Vicary was from Singleton, and clearly knew the Weiss family from their time in Glendon Brook. What a comfort it must have been to know that Vicary, an old family friend, had spoken to Fred not long before he was killed.

The exact location of Private Frederick Alfred Weiss' final resting place has not yet been determined. He is currently commemorated at VC Corner Australian Cemetery and Memorial, Fromelles, Lille, Nord Pas de Calais, France, but it is possible that he was one of 250 soldiers reinterred with full military honours at the Fromelles (Pheasant Wood) Military Cemetery, following the recovery of their remains from a mass burial site. The joint Australian and British Fromelles Project has been collecting DNA in the hope of identifying the remains of these fallen soldiers. Two DNA samples have been provided by Weiss family members, and hopefully in time they will determine whether Weiss is amongst these reinterred soldiers.