William Frederick Moody

William Frederick Moody

607 Lance Corporal William Frederick Moody, 
4th Machine Gun Battalion, 
late B Company, 16th Infantry Battalion, Australian Imperial Force.

16th Bn Australian Imperial Force march past their Commanding Officer at Blackboy Hill Camp (AWM P00802.001)

William Moody was the son of John Moody, a farmer, and he came from Horsham, in the State of Victoria. When war was declared, he was living in Darkan, in Western Australia, and he travelled to Helena Vale to enlist.

According to his enlistment papers, Frederick Moody had already served seven months with the Light Horse, which was a part time military unit. Although mounted, the Light Horse usually fought dismounted, using their horses more as a means of transportation to the battlefield, rather than as a fighting platform like a cavalry unit would. There were exceptions to this, the most notable being the charge the Light Horse made at the Battle of Beersheba when they fought like cavalrymen. When entering full-time army service for the war, Frederick Moody was posted to B Company, 16th Infantry Battalion, Australian Imperial Force.

Like thousands of other troops from Western Australia, Frederick Moody underwent his military training at the Blackboy Hill Camp. On 22nd December 1914, the 16th Battalion, left from Melbourne aboard the White Star Line transport ship, Ceramic. The ship anchored in King George’s Sound at Albany on December 26th, and some men suffering appendicitis were landed and sent to hospital.

16th Infantry Battalion Colour Patch

The ship carrying the battalion landed at Alexandria in Egypt on 1st February 1915 and the men were disembarked. In Egypt, the men trained for the coming allied invasion of the Turkish Gallipoli Peninsula. The 16th Battalion landed at ANZAC on Gallipoli late in the afternoon of 25th April 1915. A week later, the battalion was used in the attack on Bloody Angle, and suffered severe casualties. From May to August 1915, the battalion was primarily used to defend the front line of the ANZAC beachhead.

Frederick Moody was evacuated from the Gallipoli Peninsula, suffering from bronchitis. He went to a convalescent camp on the Greek island of Mudros, where he spent a week, before being returned to his battalion on 31st July 1915. After a month back on the Peninsula, he contracted Gastro-enteritis and was once more evacuated from Gallipoli. He was admitted to Saint David’s Hospital on Malta, however, after three weeks without improvement, he was shipped to the UK for treatment for his now severe condition in No.1 Southern General Hospital, in Edgbaston, Birmingham where he spent six weeks.

Entrance to 2nd Birmingham War Hospital

On his release from hospital to the AIF Depot at Chickerell in Dorset, two miles from Weymouth, he was categorised as ‘Class C II, Temporarily Unfit’ and sent to convalesce at Abbey Wood, in London, where the Australians had an intermediate depot. He remained there until 6th July 1916, when he was posted to 4th Training Battalion, and by the 29th July, he was in Etaples in France at 4th Australian Division Base Depot to undergo training before seeing service on the Western Front. On 12th August 1916, after being Etaples for two weeks, he was posted to the Machine Gun Base Depot, also in Etaples for training as a Machine Gunner, before being transferred to the 4th Division Machine Company. He was then posted out to his new unit and taken on strength of 13th Machine Gun Company on 16th September 1916.

September through to December 1916 saw the 13th Machine Gun Company work its way across Artois towards the southern half of the Ypres Salient in support of operations by the infantry battalions, before heading south again for the Somme Battlefield. The Battle of the Somme officially came to an end in mid-November, but small-scale operations and line holding routine still required Machine Gun support, mostly by indirect, barrage type shooting designed to suppress an area, rather than engage a specific target. He was wounded on 9th December with a gun-shot wound to the back, and sent to 48th Casualty Clearing Station. He was eventually sent back to Le Havre and on 14th December was embarked for England aboard SS Formosa. While receiving treatment at the 2nd Birmingham War Hospital, he was also diagnosed with Shell Shock. He remained in hospital until May 1917, by which time he was back in Weymouth. Moved to a transit camp at Perham Down, he was then sent to the Machine Gun Training Depot at Grantham.

Belton Park Camp under Construction (National Trust)

The Machine Gun Training Depot was established at Belton Park, near Grantham. It was the estate and house of Lord Onslow, who had turned it over to the War Office for their use for the duration of the war. Here, Frederick Moody trained until he was sent back to France in October 1917. It turned out to be a short stay in, as within a month he was back in hospital in England suffering with Trench Foot, which is caused by prolonged immersion of the feet in water. His unit was actually in Belgium, in the Ypres Salient, specifically on the Broodseinde Ridge, close to the village of Passchendale, which was taken during the final movements of the Third Battle of Ypres. For weeks, the weather had been foul with persistent rain turning the shell-churned ground into a swamp. No matter what the men did to try to shelter from the elements, they very quickly got soaked, their feet included. Thousands of men were put out of action by Trench Foot.

Frederick Moody was evacuated from the front line for a third time, via 12th Australian Field Ambulance, 58th Casualty Clearing Station, 18th General Hospital, across the English Channel on Hospital Ship Pieter de Conick, before arriving at his final destination, 1st Eastern General Hospital at Cambridge. Once he had recovered, he was sent on leave for two weeks before reporting to a convalescent depot at Hurdcott on Salisbury Plain. He was then sent back to Belton Park to train prior to being sent back to France.

4th Machine Gun Battalion AIF Colour Patch

It is impossible to say when, where, or how Frederick Moody met Minnie Baxter Crosland, but they were married in All Saints’ Church in Barwick on 29th April 1918.

Frederick Moody went back to France, passing through 4th Machine Gun Battalion at Camiers, on his way back to his own unit, but a month later, on 28th September 1918, he sailed from Taranto in Italy bound for Australia. The Australian Government had created a scheme whereby those soldiers who had enlisted earliest and been away for the longest periods of time were sent back to Australia for six months’ leave. It was known as ANZAC Leave, and for those who embarked, it meant the end of their war, as they were still on leave when the fighting ended with the Armistice.

Frederick Moody's grave marker in Ceduna Cemetery (www.ceduna.sa.gov.au)

Frederick Moody set up as a farmer in Ceduna, where his brother Edmund was also farming. In 1922, he returned to England in order to bring out to South Australia, not only his wife, Minnie, but her mother and father, and her sister Nellie as well. The Moodys and the Croslands set up homes in Streaky Bay, and lived out the rest of their lives there.

Frederick and Minnie, had a daughter called Constance, known to the family as Connie.

Frederick Moody died on 16th March 1959, having survived Minnie by 16 years, as she had died on 18th February 1943. Frederick and Minnie Moody are buried together, as are Minnie’s parents, and they are all buried in Ceduna Cemetery.