Fred Ditzell - Information
Fred’s parents, John and Annie Ditzell, married in Camden on the 8th of January 1890. They presently began their family with Fred arriving in Camden on the 6th of December 1890. The family then moved to the outer Sydney suburbs of Lansdowne, near Inverell. Here, Fred’s father worked as a farmer. Fred grew up in the area with his two sisters, and attended Inverell District School. He then attended Hawkesbury Agricultural College in Richmond. In 1908, he trained in Cowra on an experimental farm, and in 1913, was appointed to the Staff of Inspector of Agriculture. By 1915, his duties expanded, as he aided companies in pursuing studies abroad in wheat growing. He was then offered a position as an Officer in the NSW Department of Agriculture, where he worked closely with George Valder, Minister for Agriculture. After the war began, Fred decided to apply for a commission with the AIF in January 1916 in Tamworth. He was only 24. At the time, Fred was Senior Experimentalist within the NSW Department of Agriculture. His application for service was granted, and he joined up in Armidale. He was assigned to the 33rd Battalion as a Private, and by May, was a 2nd Lieutenant with the 2nd Reinforcements, 35th Battalion. He was then sent overseas for war service, departing Sydney Harbour on the 4th of September 1916 on the HMAT Port Sydney.
Fred stepped off the ship in England and later attended a School of Instruction in Stafford in February 1917. He was then marched into the 9th Training Battalion in Durrington, where he met his men. On the 24th of August, Fred and his Platoon proceeded to the Western Front in France. The next day, he was promoted Lieutenant. At the beginning of September, he was assigned Regimental duty. He commenced working with the 10th Brigade Headquarters during the Third Battle of Ypres in Belgium, helping coordinate the attacks. By October, the Headquarters were situated near Passchendaele Ridge. The area was being heavily bombarded by German artillery in an effort to repel recent assaults. Fred was subsequently blasted by shellfire and died instantly. Unfortunately, continual fire buried Fred’s body under mounds of earth. Consequently, he was reported missing on the 12th of October. However, when men from his unit were questioned, they confirmed that he was killed in action that day. A fellow officer and friend, Lieutenant F. Horne also of the 35th Battalion wrote his family to inform them of the tragedy.
In 1919 after the war ended, the Commonwealth Graves Commission worked tirelessly to find and bury fallen soldiers along the Western Front. Late in the year, Fred’s body was exhumed from Flanders fields near Ypres, and re-interred in the Tyne Cot Cemetery, near Passchendaele in Belgium.