Frederick John Aplin was born in 1893 at Armadale in Melbourne.
His parents were George Walter & Lucy (nee McPherson). George was born in Somerset England and migrated to Victoria in 1884. Lucy was born in Collingwood Melbourne. They married in Melbourne in 1887 and moved to Sydney in 1898.
Frederick was the 3rd of 7 children. He had 5 sisters & 1 brother. He was educated at Cleveland St Superior Public School. He did not marry.
Frederick enlisted on 27 Jan 1916.
He stated occupation as meter reader and address as 97 Victoria Street, Lewisham.
He was of average build being 5ft 8¼in (173cm) tall; weighed 141lb (64kg); chest 36in (91cm). He had no distinguishing marks; a fair complexion, blue eyes, light brown hair; and was a Church of England.
He was assigned Service Number 4656 and attached to 12th Reinforcements for the 17th Battalion which was part of the 5th Brigade of the 2nd Division.
War Service: Western Front
The 12th Reinforcements departed Sydney on HMAT Ceramic on 14 Apr 1916 for Egypt. After a short stay they then departed for England on 28 May arriving at Plymouth on 7 June.
Frederick then promptly went AWL from 8 to 12 June & was fined 10 days’ pay.
After 3 months training, Frederick proceeded to France on 10 Sep and eventually joined the 17th Battalion on 21 Sep at Ypres.
Instead of wintering in Ypres, the Australian troops were moved back to the Somme for the final stages of the latest offensive. 17th Battalion left Ypres on 6 Oct & arrived 26 Oct behind the lines.
On 7 Nov the Battalion moved into the front line near Flers. There was heavy rain with strong & very cold wind with the troops knee deep in water in the trenches.
On 8 Nov 1916 the weather eased with a fine morning but showers in the afternoon. It was a relatively quiet day on the front line by WW1 standards.
17th Battalion diary mentions a small German attack which was “easily repulsed”. 5th Brigade diary mentions total casualties for the 4 Battalions of the Brigade were 5 killed.
One of the killed was Frederick. He was killed by shell fire & hastily buried in a shell hole outside the trench.
After the War his body was exhumed and re-buried in the AIF Burial Ground, Flers.
Click on map below for location of major events In Pte Aplin’s war including wounding and burial.
On 5 Dec SMH Roll of Honour notice stated:
“APLIN -Killed in action in France about Nov 8, 1916 Pte Frederick John Aplin, the dearly loved son of Mr and Mrs G. W. Aplin, Dunedin, Victoria-street Lewisham”.
And again, on 16 Dec:
“APLIN -Private F J Aplin, Killed in action in France, November 8, 1916, one of the best. Oh, France, thou holdest one of God’s noblest. Deeplv mourned by his bereaved friends, N. McNamara, J Hayes, and Jim Hayes.”
On 8 Nov 1917 SMH In Memoriam notice stated:
“APLIN.-In loving memory of our dear son and brother, Private Frederick John Aplin, killed in action, November 8, 1916. Inserted by his sorrowing parents, sisters, and brother.”
In August 1917 his family received his personal effects comprising a leather cigarette case.
His father died in 1919, and mother in 1948.
Frederick is also commemorated (as Alpin FJ) on the War Memorial in the Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Dulwich Hill