Frederick John STAPLETON (1881-19..)

9th Infantry Brigade AIF

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35th BATTALION A.I.F.

Lance Sergeant: 210 Frederick John STAPLETON.


Born: 1881. Battersen, London, England.

Married:

Wife: Vera Robinson Stapleton. nee:.

Died:


Father:

Mother: Mary Stapleton.


INFORMATION

Frederick John Stapleton enlisted with A Company, 35th Battalion AIF on the 6th of December 1915 at Newcastle where he was promoted to the rank of Corporal, (Brigade Order No:48) and was an original member of the Battalion and embarked from Sydney on board HMAT A24 "Benalla" on the 1st of May 1916 and disembarked at Plymouth England on the 9th July 1916. Fred was marched in the the 35th Battalion to the Durrington Army Camp at Larkhill with the 9th Training Battalion. On the 22nd July he was Charged AWL 22 hours - Severly Repremanded at Larkhill Forfeit 1 days pay.

The 35th Battalion proceeded overseas for France on the 21st November 1916 via Southampton where the Battalion went into billets before being marched to the Front. Frederick remained with the Battalion and went into action at Messines.

7th June 1917.

THE BATTLE OF MESSINES

The 3rd Australian Divisions first major offencive was at Messines Ridge on the 7th June 1917. The Australian 3rd Division was a part of the II Anzac Corps which was allotted to the first assault. The 25th New Zealand, 3rd Australian Division with the 4th Australian Division in reserve. The 4th Division were battle hardened troops who had fought many major battles.The 3rd Australian Division were having problems getting to the "jump off" point. The day before the 9th and 10th Infantry Brigades were bombarded by German Gas-Shells around Hill 63 and Plugstreet Wood. Many of the Aussies were not wearing gas masks, but dispite this they pressed on even though they received 500 casulties.

They made it to the "jump off" point but only just with some of the men from the 9th and 10th going straight over the top without stopping. The mines went up and the attack commenced behind a protective barrage. The II Anzac Corps were attacking on the right with their objective being the southern shoulder of the ridge which included Messines, the Dover and St Yves areas as far south to the east of Plugstreet Wood.

Major General Sir John MONASH's 3rd Division had to contend with a tricky 3 mile approach out of Plugstreet Wood and after the German gas attack, but they were not detered. The 9th Infantry Brigade under Brigadier General: Alexander JOBSON and the 10th Infantry Brigade under Brigadier General W R NICHOLL had just made the jumping off point but some of the men did not stop, going straight into the assault from the approach march.

Their objective lay between St Yves and the Douve. The mines at Trench 127 and Trench 12 at Factory Farm were laid to aid this task. The explosions erupted a few seconds before zero hour and created craters of 200 feet in diameter, completely obliterating the German defence line as the 9th and 10th Infantry Brigades went over the top. The mine crates forced the 9th and 10th Brigades to veer to the left and right which caused some confusion with the main assault. It is testimony to the quality of training that every man knew the ground, tasks and objectives so well.

Private: 1804 John CARROLL 33rd Battalion, rushed the enemy's trench and bayoneted four of the German occupants. He then noticed a comrade in difficulties and went to his assistance, killing another German. He then attacked single handed a German Machine Gun Team, killing all three of them and capturing the gun. He later rescued two of his comraded who had been buried alive by German Shell Fire, and in spite of heavy shelling and machine gun fire he dug them out alive and saved them from certain death. John was awarded the Victoria Cross.

The German foward zone was completely engulfed and taken by the main assault. The two supporting battalions of each brigade then passed the leading battalion to continue the advance. The men were constantly re-supplied and the ridge was taken. There were many German prisoners taken during the offencive. The 3rd Division was well ahead with the 9th Infantry Brigade pushing on beyond Grey Farm, and on the right the 10th Infantry Brigade were veering left towards Septieme Barn north of Douve.

The German resistance was heavy but was generally brushed aside by tanks and artillery before the infantry had to become too involved.The 4th Bavarian Divisions Artillery had made little impact, but as the day wore on the 3rd Division and later the 4th Australian Division received many casulties from German artillery. (70% of all casulties during WW1 were from artillery).

By 9:00am nearly 6 hours after the assault began the Germans were in dissaray, but there was a major problem as the Australians received less casulties as anticipated and when ordered to dig into the ridge they had so many men, that some could not find shelter. the 35th battalion were dug in around Seaforth Farm.

The second phase of the operation was to take the Oosttaverne Line. The 3rd Australian Division would now be in reserve with the 4th Division attacking. The 9th Infantry Brigade (33-34-35-36Bn) were near Thatched Cottage facing Warneton. The river Lys was to their right and the Plugstreet Wood was now behind them.

Once their objectives were taken the troops consolidated. A barrarge to stop and counter attack was shortnened and caught three battalions which had to retire. By 9:00pm this part of the Oosttaverne Line was abandonded. At 10:45pm General Godley ordered the 3rd and 4th Divisions to retake it. This they did by the early hours of the 8th of June.

The Battle for Messines Ridge during May-June 1917 saw 35 officers and 1,631 other ranks loose their lives.

9th Infantry Brigade Casulties.
33rd Battalion. AIF 8 Officers 382 Other ranks
34th Battalion. AIF 10 Officers 378 Other ranks
35th Battalion. AIF 5 Officers 431 Other ranks
36th Battalion. AIF 9 Officers 421 Other ranks
9th Machine Gun Company. AIF 2 Officer 17 Other ranks
9th Light Trench Mortor Battery. 1 Officer 2 Other ranks

Field Dressing Station, Messines 07/06/1917

FIELD DRESSING STATION, MESSINES 7th June 1917.

Frederick was Wounded in Action on the 8th of June when he was Gassed and evacuated to the Casualty Clearing Station for further treatment before the was invalided to England onboard the Hospital Ship "St Patrick" on the 13th June 1917. He was admitted to the Convelescent Depot before he again proceeded overseas for France on the 9th October and rejiuned his unit on the 22nd of October. Frederick was promoted to Lance Sergeant on the 7th of November Vice Sgt ATKINS was evacuated when he was Wounded in Action but reverted back to the rank of Corporal on the 19th of November by order of the C.O of the 35th Battalion.

4th-5th April 1918

The First VILLERS-BRETONNEUX

The Strength of the 9th Infantry Brigade was about 2,250 but their casulties during the 2 days of fighting numbered 30 Officers and 635 men either killed in action or missing.

9th Infantry Brigade Casulties.4th-5th April 1918
33rd Battalion. AIF 3 Officers 82 Other ranks
34th Battalion. AIF 5 Officers 120 Other ranks
35th Battalion. AIF 9 Officers 282 Other ranks (including 44 missing)
36th Battalion. AIF 12 Officers 133 Other ranks (including 1 missing)
9th Machine Gun Company. AIF 1 Officer 18 Other ranks (including 4 missing)

Kitchener Military Hospital at

1st September 1917.

Informant; Private: 210 Frederick John Stapleton, A Company 35th Battalion. I saw Private: 14 John AYRE body in the graveyard, waiting to be buried and later saw his grave. It had a cross erected over it bearing his name, number and battalion. The cemetery is at PLUG-St-WOOD, near ARMENTIERES, and easily traceable. We came over together on the "Benalla" and knew each other quite well.

Frederick was Wounded in Action; 2nd occassion during this action at Villers-Bretonneux where he received a Gun Shot Wound to his Back and was evacuated to England where he was admitted to the Kichener Hospital at Brighton. Upon his discharge Frederick proceeded overseas again for France on the 6th September and rejoined his unit on the 14th of September 1918. He was only in France 4 months before returning to England where he was again promoted to Lance Sergeant on the 29th January 1919 and returned to Australia on the 11th of May 1919.

Family Information

Frederick was a married 31 year old French Polisher from 55 Perkins Street, Newcastle upon enlistment. His wife Vera was in the care of Mrs McLean of Maitland Road, Stockton, N.S.W.

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Commonwealth of Australia (National Archives of Australia)

Under Construction; 06/11/2007-08/07/2016.


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