Saturday, December 3, 2016

Frederick (Fred) Walter Ford Chin

Serial Number and Rank:  3774, Private
Birth:  Bombola 1889. 1889/26866
Parents:  Walter Ford Chin & Eliza Susanna Leaney
Enlisted:  Holsworthy 9 October 1915
Next of Kin:  Mother. Eliza Chin Church St Milton
Service: 19th Battalion, 9th Reinforcement. RTA 14 Janurary 1919
Fred wrote “Yours for the Empire” across of photo of himself in uniform
Marriage:  Kathleen Duckwell 1922 Rockdale Sydney
Honour Rolls:  Milton Church of England (Chinn)
RSL Honour Roll (Chinn)
Milton Town Memorial (Chin)
Milton Primary School (Chinn)
Brother – Harry Thomas Chin

Frederick Walter Ford Chin was born at Bombala in 1889, the eldest son of Walter Ford Chin and his wife Eliza Susanna nee Leaney. The Chin family moved to Eliza’s home town of Milton in the early 1890s.

At the age of 26 years, Fred enlisted for war service, in October 1915 as assigned to the 19th Battalion, embarking for overseas duty aboard the HMAT Runic A54 in January 1916. Also aboard was Walter Herbert Bishop from Milton, who he had been home of final leave with Fred in early January 1916.

Fred who had been working as a clerk enlisted using the surname of Chin, however his name is spelt as Chinn on the local honour Rolls: Milton Church of England, Milton Ulladulla RSL Honour Roll, Milton Town Memorial and the Milton Primary School. The spelling of Chinn is used by the family today.

Fred Chin joined one of the military bands over in Egvpt, in action bandsmen generally become stretcher bearers. Fred was a skilled rifle shooter, as a member of the Milton Rifle Club and others he had won state awards for his shooting.

His parents lived in Church Street Milton. His father Walter Chin was very proud of his son’s military service, in April 1916 he organised a display of servicemen photos in Blackburn’s shop window at Milton. The display contained featured an enlarged photo of his son Fred Chin, surrounded by about 20 smaller sized photos of other Milton lads, all who had gone to the front. Walter Chin had been a member of the Milton Ulladulla detachment of the NSW Militia Lancers.

Private Fred Chin of Milton wrote home from Exeter in England telling of his travel from Egypt to England in June 1916, he mentioned that Milton boys William Newton, Arthur and Alf Davey were in camp with him.

Fred wrote many letter home one which was written supported by a copy of the Milton Ulladulla Times which his father had sent to him: Private Fred Chin writes under date of September 14th: Am still in England as you can see by the above address. We have weekly rumours as to when we are to be sent across. I am still in the Band; didn’t know when I joined in Heliopolis (Egypt) that I should have to remain in it as long; in fact didn’t think at, the time we boys would be parted until in firing line. I am writing this letter with a Milton Times underneath dated July 15th. I have had a fairly good time whilst in the Band. I often think of the members of Milton Band. What a difference!

I have open to London three times so far, and Salisbury (10 miles from beret twice. On each occasion of a visit to Salisbury the band played; the first time it was a Memorial Service to Lord Kitchener in Salisbury Cathedral; the second we played through the principal streets and gave a programme in Rotunda in the Park; this was in aid of the Infirmary. We were welcomed on each occasion. Am contemplating a trip to Cardiff  (Wales) when I get my next leave, (that is if we don’t go to France). Should I go shall write you a letter of my trip. Last week we went through our Musketry. I shot fairly well under the circumstances, using about 5 rifles to complete. The last day I made a record. I shall try and explain. The range was 200 yards, and there was a small 6 gun target (musketry like our own).

We were shooting from the trench, used gas helmets; it was supposed to be a gas attack, and we had to fire 10 shots in 1 minute. We got in the trench and fixed bayonets under cover, loaded 5 shots, and had 5 shots in a clip in our pouches. We had to put on gas helmet under cover, at whistle. The helmet is a mask which covers your head, and you have to button your coat over the bottom part. You put. a tube in your mouth and breathe in through your nose and out through mouth. There are kind of goggles for eye, and there is nothing to put on your nose, so you inhale the air inside, mask.

The helmet is saturated with some kind of chemical, and it isn’t too pleasant I can tell you. At the whistle you have to bob up, find your target among the others, fire the shots in magazine, load from pouch and button the poach up again, inside the minute. I secured a possible (10 bulls), and was complimented by the Officer in, charge of Musketry. So you see I haven’t gone off my shooting. I surprised myself, but I was as steady as a rock. Things are pretty tough yet over in France, and a good many thousand lives shall have to be sacrificed yet. I hope to get through alright, but shall have to take my chance. We had to play a big draft away last Saturday night, leaving camp II.30, went 5 miles to Amesbury  Station, and we arrived home in the early hours of the morning. Alf Davey went to France in that lot; Arthur was in hospital, so didn’t go. I visited him on Sunday. He is out again, but not too well. Pleurisy, I think. I suppose he will be leaving shortly. It is going to be cold here, but I am sure we won’t be here much longer.

Fred eventually went to France and re-joined the 19th Battalion in January 1917, he soon wrote another letter home to Milton. Writing from France on February 2nd, 1917, Private Fred Chin said he had been eight days in the trenches, and was then out for a rest, doing clerical work for four days. He knew what it was like to be under fire, and had had some trying times and narrow escapes. Continuing, he says, “I was a guide and runner for a couple of days, guiding parties up to the front line trenches and carrying dispatches. It is’nt the best of work. The Germans at night use a lot of flares, and you have to be careful that you are not seen when they go up, especially when you are within a couple of hundred yards of their trenches, as I was at one time (guiding parties). You have their lives in your hands. I’ve been sniped at, shrapnel has burst over me, and shells have fallen not far away; but I’m safe so far. It is very hard work carrying rations from one line to another. The second night I was one of a party to go from supports to front line of trenches with rations, and we got lost, but fortunately didn’t go into German lines.

Fred continued fighting in France with his Battalion, returning home to Australia in March 1919, being discharged in November 1919. He was awarded the British War and Victory Medal. He later married Kathleen Duckwell.

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