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Local Heroes WW1

SCHENSCHER Frederick John

(Pte) Frederick John Schenscher

Private Frederick John Schenscher, a Labourer from  Port Adelaide, South Australia, prior to enlistment 12 February 1915, he embarked with the 27th Battalion, D Company from Adelaide, South Australia, on board HMAT A2 Geelong on 31 May 1915.

Regimental number 913
Religion Methodist
Occupation Labourer
Address Saddleworth, South Australia
Marital status Single
Age at embarkation 21
Next of kin Mother, Mrs Sarah Schenscher, Saddleworth, South Australia
Enlistment date 12-Feb-15
Date of enlistment from Nominal Roll 15-Feb-15
Rank on enlistment Private
Unit name 27th Battalion, D Company
AWM Embarkation Roll number 23/44/1
Embarkation details Unit embarked from Adelaide, South Australia, on board HMAT A2 Geelong on 31 May 1915
Rank from Nominal Roll Private
Unit from Nominal Roll 27th Battalion
Fate Returned to Australia 2 January 1919
Medals  
   
Distinguished Conduct Medal  'For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. With another man, he rescued two wounded men under heavy fire. Later, he displayed great courage and determination in evacuating wounded, under most trying conditions.'
 
Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 116  
Date: 25 July 1917  
   
Family/military connections Brothers: 4371 Pte Herbert Alfred SCHENSCHER, 32nd Bn, returned to Australia, 15 April 1918; 6823 Pte Ernest Frederick SCHENSCHER, 10th Bn, returned to Australia, 20 May 1919.
Other details Medals: Distinguished Conduct Medal, 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal

 

Schenscher-Frederick-John-G00599ID number     G00599
Collection     Photograph
Object type     Black & white
Photographer     Brooks, Ernest
Place made     Ottoman Empire: Turkey, Dardanelles, Gallipoli
Date made     1915
Physical description     Black & white

Description

The original Admiralty caption to this photograph reads: "An Australian bringing in a wounded comrade to hospital. Notwithstanding the unhappy situation, they joked as they made their way down from the front." This photograph was stated by Charles Bean to have been staged by the photographer, and the following note was added to the caption: "The original Admiralty caption describes the re-enactment of an event frequently seen". In the distance can be seen North Beach, running north towards Suvla. The man carrying his comrade was identified in the 1920s as Lance Corporal C S Elliott, C Company, 2nd Battalion and has also been identified as 913 Private Frederick John Schenscher, 27th Battalion, who was awarded a DCM for rescuing wounded in France in 1917.

 

Digger in famous Gallipoli photo revealed as a South Australian stretcher bearer 

NOTHING portrays the ANZAC spirit of comradeship better than the image of the smiling young digger carrying his wounded mate to safety on his shoulders high above the cliffs at Gallipoli.

 

The First World War photograph taken in 1915 by official British military photographer, Ernest Brooks, is so evocative it has been used hundreds of times.

But the dramatic picture holds a remarkable secret — a couple of secrets in fact.

 

Over the past 100 years several Australian families have believed the war hero was their relative, but only Deb Garrard from Salisbury North has the proof.

 

An image — believed to have been produced by the photographer at the time and handed down through generations — with the written inscription “Private F J Schenscher bringing in a wounded comrade to hospital”

 

Mrs Garrard, Schenscher’s great niece, contacted the Australian War Memorial 13 years ago to begin the process of officially establishing Fred — from Saddleworth in the mid-north of South Australia — as the carrier.

 

“I sent them an e-mail first at my mother’s request (Lois Todd, Fred’s niece) because she was frustrated that they never got the caption right,” Mrs Garrard said.

 

“Even today publications still get it wrong even though we have the papers from the War Memorial that they’ve confirmed it.”

 

For decades the famous image had the caption claiming the man carrying the soldier was Lance Corporal C S Elliott, C Company, 2nd Battalion.

 

But in 2002 Mrs Garrard and her husband David travelled to Canberra to present evidence Fred — a stretcher bearer — was firmly identified in the photograph published in several editions of the London and Australian Gazettes during the war years.

 

What happened later on no-one knows, but Lance Corporal Elliott became associated with the photograph in the 1920s.

 

The name of the man being carried has never been established

 

The original Admiralty caption reads: “An Australian bringing in a wounded comrade to hospital. Notwithstanding the unhappy situation, they joked as they made their way down from the front.”

 

What it doesn’t say about the photo is that it could well be a ‘fake’.

 

According to Charles Bean — revered war journalist and editor of the official history of Australia during the War — Brooks would often stage pictures to achieve the greatest emotional affect.

 

If Bean is right, the wonderful radiant smirk on Fred Schenscher’s face is more likely a joke about how many times he will have to repeat the exhausting act than any ‘gallows humour’ about the chances of survival.

 

Not that anything diminishes Fred Schenscher’s bravery, confirmed when he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) for rescuing wounded in France in 1917.

 

In an echo of the Gallipoli photograph, the Medal citation reads: “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. With another man, he rescued two wounded men under heavy fire. Later, he displayed great courage and determination in evacuating wounded, under most trying conditions.”

 

Private F J Schenscher, 913, 27th Battalion, enlisted for the Australian Imperial Force in South Australia, in February 1915 at the age of 21.

 

His papers record he had dark complexion, grey eyes, was a practising Methodist and was missing a thumb on his right hand.

 

Fred, who never married and had no children, was demobbed in January 1919, and returned to a quiet life living mainly in South Australia’s wheat belt, before sadly he was found floating in the Port River in the early 1950s.

 

His accidental death is believed to have been precipitated by a little too much liqueur.

 

Copyright on his Gallipoli photograph has long since expired and the image is now in the public domain.

 

But if you choose to use it, Deb Garrard asks, that you please get the caption right.

 

“My family is very proud of Uncle Fred and it’s just so special to see that picture of him every time it’s used,” she added.

CRAIG COOK The Advertiser March 03, 2015 9:00PM

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