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Frederick Higgins (1887-1955)

Citation

“Frederick Higgins (1887-1955),” Wyndham History, accessed October 26, 2020, http://www.wyndhamhistory.net.au/items/show/1747.
View Record Detail
Title

Frederick Higgins (1887-1955)

Subject

Higgins, Frederick

Publisher

Wyndham City Libraries

Date

1914

Contributor

Bill Strong

Format

text

Language

eng

Type

Text

Biographical Text

No.1414A Trooper Fredrick Higgins
Frederick Higgins was born in 1887 to James Higgins and Mary Jane Walker near Benalla, Victoria.  The couple had married in Victoria in 1884.

His siblings were:

  • Ernest Higgins - born 1885
  • Rubinia Higgins - born 1889
  • Stanley Higgins - born 1890 (who also served in the A.I.F.)
  • Rebecca Higgins - born 1892
  • Charley Higgins - born 1894
  • Pearl Higgins - born 1896
  • Percy Higgins - born 1897
  • Alma Higgins - born 1900
War Service
Frederick Higgins' official enlistment date was recorded as the 10 September 1914. This was the day that he took the Oath.

His service record contains two sets of Attestation Papers and both state that his date of enlistment was 10 September 1914.  He was originally given the Regimental Number 7 as his Service Number, but this was changed to 1414, and then 1414A.

The first Attestation paper says that he was a miner, and that he enlisted at Wonthaggi on 10 September 1914.  He nominated his father, James Higgins of Ivydene, Somerville Road,  West Footscray as his next of kin.  On 21 January 1919 that address changed to Waverley Road, East Malvern, and then on 13 May 1921 it was amended to Tammik Station, via Euston, New South Wales.

Frederick then signed the first page of his second Attestation papers on 31 December 1914, while on-board H.M.A.T. Berrima, A35, en-route to Egypt.  On the same day, his medical certificate was completed.  This time he nominated his mother, Mrs Mary Jane Higgins, Ivydene, Somerville Road, West Footscray, Victoria as his next of kin.

Private Frederick Higgins embarked from Melbourne per H.M.A.T. Berrima, A35, on 22 December 1914, with the 4th Infantry Brigade, 16th Infantry Battalion, 1st Reinforcements. The 1st to the 6th reinforcements all travelled together to Egypt on the same ship. They stopped briefly at Albany in W.A., and arrived in Egypt in early February 1915.

On 22 March 1915, the 16th Battalion were possibly in the Heliopolis region in Egypt, undergoing a restructure.  Private Higgins was then transferred to "A" Company of the 16th Battalion.

The 16th Battalion embarked from Alexandria on 12th April 1915, and sailed to the Port of Mudros, on the island of Lemnos.  They were now part of the M.E.F. on the Gallipoli Peninsula.

The 16th Battalion, along with the 15th, 14th and 13th Battalions, formed the 4th Brigade, which was under the command of Colonel John Monash.  Late in the afternoon of 25 April 1915, the 16th Battalion were part of the Anzac force that landed at Anzac Cove. Two days later, on 27 April 1915, while they were fighting in the Gaba Tepe area, Frederick was wounded. He was evacuated to hospital on Lemnos, and was discharged back to his Battalion on 9 August 1915.

When he returned, "A" Company of the 16th Battalion were supporting the 15th Battalion in fighting on the peninsula, at the area known as "Wire Trench".

After a disastrous campaign, the ANZAC forces were evacuated from the Gallipoli peninsula on the evenings of 19 and 20 December 1915.  Private Higgins returned to the port of Mudros before returning to Egypt. On 30 December 1915 he disembarked at Alexandria in Egypt, per H.H.T. Ascannius, ex Mudros.

Following their return to Egypt, the Australian forces were expanded and re-organised. The 16th Battalion was split up and provided experienced soldiers to the 48th Battalion. The 4th Brigade was combined with the 12th and 13th Brigades to become the 4th Australian Division.

As a result of the re-organisation, Private Higgins was transferred from the 16th Battalion, and taken on strength with Number 1 Company of the Imperial Camel Corps* (I.C.C.) at the Abbassia Base on 25 January 1916. Owing to a duplication of service numbers, the suffix "A" was then added to his regimental number.

The first I.C.C. patrol left their base at Abbassi in March 1916, to patrol the Libyan Desert.  There is no record on Private Higgins being part of that patrol, but he was admitted to the hospital at Abbassii on 12 April 1916.

On 6 June 1916, Private Higgins was admitted to a British hospital at Khargo, as being sick.  He would have been participating in the Senussi Campaign in 1915-16, in which British Forces were attacked from the west by allies of the Ottomans.  The battle ground covered a band of oasis, including the one at Kharga (or Khargo). This had been abandoned and was then retaken by the British in April 1916.

After initial medical treatment, he was admitted to the Egyptian Government Hospital at Assuit [234 miles south of Cairo) on 10 June 1916, due to swallowing a foreign body.  After treatment, he was discharged on 18 June 1916, and returned to duty with the No.1 Company of the I.C.C.
 
On 23 November 1916, Private Higgins was admitted and treated by the 1/1 Highland Mounted Brigade Field Ambulance at the Sherika Base in Upper Egypt.  He was suffering from scabies, and after treatment, was discharged back to his unit on 28 November 1916.

The I.C.C. were involved in the three battles for Gaza. The 1st Battle of Gaza occurred on 26 March 1917, and the Second was on the 17 April 1917. The 3rd battle was conducted over the last months of 1917.

On 22 September 1917, the No.1 Company of the I.C.C. were at the Ferry Post Base, when Private Higgins was promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal.  He then became a temporary Corporal for two months, while a fellow soldier went to hospital. It was during this time that the I.C.C. participated in the 3rd Battle of Gaza.  Between December 1917 and July 1918, Frederick Higgins retained his acting Corporal rank.

The 14th Light Horse underwent a reorganisation at the Surafend Base in July 1918.  Acting Corporal Higgins was struck of strength with the 1st Anzac Battalion, and transferred to the Light Horse on 1 July 1918.  He was reverted to the rank of Trooper at his own request, and he signed a statement that this reduction of rank was not done to avoid any kind of punishment.

On 8 November 1918, Trooper Higgins marched out from the E.E.F., and marched in to the 3rd Light Horse Training Regiment at the Mouscar Base in Ismalia.

The Armistice occurred on 11 November 1918, and it was time to return to Australia. On 15 November 1918, Frederick marched in to the 5th Light Horse Training Regiment from Suez, and on 26 December 1918 he embarked at Suez per H.T. Burmah, for return to Australia.

He was discharged from the 3rd Military District in Melbourne on 30 March 1919.  

Post War
Two years later, on 13 May 1921, Frederick Higgins wrote to the Army from Tammit Station via Euston in NSW, requesting his war medals.

There is no record of Frederick marrying, and he was working as a market gardener in the Robinvale area of Victoria when he died on 23 July 1955.  

A probate application appeared in the Law Notices of The Argus, 28 March 1956, p.11 in which his sister Pearl Grenfell of 27 Primrose Street, Moonee Ponds, was named as the executrix.

Medals & Entitlements:
  • 1914/15 Star
  • British War Medal
  • Victory Medal
*Imperial Camel Corps.
1. The British Army had operated a school at Abbassia since 1881, to teach British soldiers how to ride and handle camels. In 1916, four companies of Australian soldiers were trained as camel troops. They later played an important role in the Sinai Campaign.
2. The I.C.C. Brigade comprised of four Battalions; the 1st, 3rd and 4th were Australian, and the 2nd was British. They conducted long-range patrols in the Sinai Desert and around the Suez Canal, looking for Ottoman activity.
3. The I.C.C. became part of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (E.E.F.)
4. The Camel Corp were affectionally known in Australia as "Men of Grit"]

Notes:
The name Higgins, F. first appeared in the Roll of Honor, Werribee Shire Banner, 13 February 1919, p.3.

Abbassia (original spelling), or Abassi. Near Cairo in Egypt.

14th Australian General Hospital was formed in 1916. Departed Melbourne 19 August 1916 and was located at Abbassia, Cairo and Port Said.

2nd Australian Stationary Hospital (2ASH). Served at Lemnos Island and Ismailia, Egypt before moving to the Sinai and Palestine.

Until the Australian Camel Field Ambulance became operational, medical support was provided by the two British Army Territorial Force units indicated above--the 1/1st Welsh Field Ambulance and later the 1/1st Scottish Horse Mounted Field Ambulance.

E.E.F. - Egyptian Expeditionary Force
I.C.C. - Imperial Camel Corps formed at Abbassia in Egypt.
M.E.F. – Mediterranean Expeditionary Force


Newspapers
"Men of Grit" Kalgoorlie Miner, 18 June 1920, p.3.

Bibliography

Service History
http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au

Embarkation List https://www.awm.gov.au/people/rolls/R1820993/
http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au

Camel Corps
https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/ART02744/

Camel Corp History
http://alh-research.tripod.com/Light_Horse/index.blog/2005996/imperial-camel-corps-brief-history/

Band of Oasis Campaign https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_operations_in_North_Africa_during_World_War_I

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