John James Fidler

September 6, 2015

FIDLER, John James- – – – – SPC ?

DoB:- – 1884, Sale, VIC

Father:- – William Valentine Fidler, a carpenter

Mother:- – Ellen, nee James

John Fidler was born in Sale, the fourth child of six born to William and Ellen.

Service No:- 2106

Rank:- – Private

Unit:- – 2nd Pioneer Battalion

John Fidler was a single man who worked as a carpenter when he enlisted in the AIF on 29 February, 1916. He was 32 years and 11 months old, five feet, nine and one quarter inches tall, with a fresh complexion, blue eyes and fair hair. He was living at the time at 13 Willis Street in the Melbourne suburb of Malvern.

On his attestation papers, John noted that he had three years’ experience with the Victorian Rangers in 1903, and three years’ experience with the 10th Light Horse Regiment in 1910. He nominated his mother, Ellen, as his next of kin, as his father had died in 1910.

Private Fidler embarked from Melbourne aboard the Wandilla on 6 June, 1916, sailing via South Africa en route to England. While the troop ship was docked at Cape Town in July, Fidler was found to be Absent Without Leave (AWL) for six hours, for which crime he was admonished and had to forfeit one days’ pay. He then continued to England, and underwent several weeks training.

On 4 December 1916, Private Fidler proceeded to France. He was admitted to the 6th Field Ambulance on 19 January the following year after suffering from a chronically sprained ankle. His injury must have been very severe, as he was transferred to the 12th General Hospital, and then back across the Channel to the 3rd Australian General Hospital in Brighton. It was reported that Fidler had flat feet, which although meant he suffered from a degree of -‘debility’, did not prevent him from being returned to his unit after a period of convalescence.

He was back in France by March 1918, and was wounded -‘slightly’ in action on 20 April and remained at his post. By mid-October 1918, he was promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal in France. In January 1919, he was made Corporal.

On 20 January, John Fidler was granted leave in England to marry Emily Smith on 30 January, 1919. The couple married in the Parish Church at St James, Hatcham, London -“ John was 35 and Emily was 29 years old. On 15 February, Corporal Fidler rejoined his unit, and remained in England to prepare for his return to Australia. Although the war was over, he was still contracted to the AIF, and so had to apply for leave for the four month period 13 May to 13 September 1919. It is likely that John had the opportunity to take up employment as a carpenter, as this was the reason stated on his service record – -‘Non military employment in London’. After completing this engagement, John and Emily waited for a berth on a family ship, to return to Australia. The couple disembarked from the Shropshire on 22 January 1920 in Melbourne.

After being discharged from the AIF, John Fidler resumed his career as a carpenter, and he and Emily lived at 17 Clarinda Road, Essendon. They had three children, Dorothy Ada, Walter William and Stanley James. John died on 4 April 1930 at the age of 47, leaving Emily with three young children. John succumbed to stomach cancer, and was buried at Fawkner Cemetery.

The Argus newspaper of Saturday 5 April 1930 printed a -‘-¦tribute to the memory of a beloved comrade …’, the notification being inserted by -‘-¦ the South African and Active Service Association of Victoria’ (SAASAV). The College discovered that one of John’s brothers, Walter Henry Fidler, Service No 94, fought in the Boer War. Walter was a member of the No 4 Troop, raised from men from Sale, and when he returned from South Africa, would have become a member of the SAASAV as a returned service man. Walter died in 1923, aged 41. It is likely that there was a connection between the Fidler family, the community in Sale, and the community of returned soldiers, which could be the reason behind the obituary being placed in The Argus from a seemingly unrelated Service Association.