Ernest Hector Fred de Belin

Fred lived at 58 Gerard Street, Alexandria, with his sister, Marion, and her husband, William SEATON. Fred joined the 1st Battalion, A.I.F, in 1916. He went to England, then France and Belgium. His baptism of fire was the Battle of Bullecourt, May 1917. On the first day of the 3rd Battle of Ypres, October, 1917, he was wounded in the foot and leg by German machine gun fire. He was transported to England for treatment then later returned to France. He received shrapnel wounds to the leg and buttock in 1918. He was again shipped back to England for treatment and then back to France for a 3rd tour of duty. He returned to Australia 1919 and discharged in 1920. He was in the Army for a total of 1251 days, with 1072 of these being overseas. His brother Arthur de BELIN and his brother-in-law/adopted father, William SEATON, also saw action overseas and both returned safely. For a more detailed account of Fred de BELIN’s war record, see his military history, titled, ‘Show Me the Way to go Home’. This is a short book written by me, and was named after his favourite song. It is interesting to note that his war records and signature all have his name as Ernest Hector Fred de BELIN, which differs from his Birth Certificate of Fred Ernest Hector de BELIN.

Fred de BELIN worked on the trams and obtained his Tram Licence in 1936. His sons, Fred Jnr, Bill and Jack were famous for their football and boxing expertise. They all lived in the Balmain area.

Fred never talked much about his war days, however, I remember him showing me his old wounds. He said he should have been killed once by a shell blast, but he had swapped sentry duties with another soldier. That soldier was killed by German artillery fire which “left a crater as big as a lounge room”. Fred said he was a Lewis gunner (machine gun) during the war.

On 11/11/1971 he drank poison, and died in hospital on 14/11/1971. He was cremated at Northern Suburbs on 17/11/1971, where his ashes were placed in the Rose Garden under a Rose of Peace, as he had always wished. Its ironic that he survived many years fighting on the Western Front during WWI, only to take his own life on Armistice Day, and previously requesting a Rose of Peace atop his ashes. Maybe his war days paid a heavier toll on his health than we ever thought………….?

(Les de Belin - Grandson)

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