Both Ferres and Kiellerup were in 6 Battalion (C Company) and both were killed on 8 May 1915, at Cape Helles in the ill-fated push to take the village of Krithia. In both cases the body was never recovered; and the two names are on the Helles Memorial. There is no Red Cross report for either of the men and nor is there any war diary entry of the 6 Battalion for that period, so details of their deaths are limited. The war diary entries of the other battalions in 2 Brigade (5, 7 and 8 Battalion) indicate that there were heavy casualties – about one-third of the Brigade – from heavy shelling and machine gun fire from the Turkish side. They also show that communication between units was poor and the movement of troops within the battle zone was confused. It was also very difficult to retrieve the dead and wounded from the exposed battle field. The casualties, chaos and confusion of the battle are all summed up in the war diary of 2 Brigade, with its explanation for not having any record of the battle: During action of May 8th/9th the whole of the Bde. Staff became casualties & all documents appear to have gone astray.
Yet despite the background chaos, and the absence of bodies, there was no suggestion that the 2 men were ‘missing’. The cables informing their families back in Australia that they had been killed in action came relatively quickly. For both of them the date appears to have been 16 June 1915, about 5 weeks after they had been killed. In both cases a small amount of personal kit was returned to the families. For Ferres it was a gift-box, post cards and some photos. For Kiellerup it was a hymn book, letters, pocket-book and 1 photo.
The men are on neither the Shire of Alberton Honor Roll nor the Shire of Alberton War Memorial. Ferres appears on the honor roll for Alberton State School and Kiellerup on the honor roll for Yarram State School. Ferres is shown as having been killed but Kiellerup is not.
Sydney Eversley Ferres
Sydney Ferres was born at Ararat but his family must have moved to the Yarram area when he was young because he attended the Alberton State School. His older brother – Harold Dunstan George Ferres – also attended Alberton SS. By his late teens it appears that Sydney’s family had shifted to Toora where he worked as a butter and cheese maker for 6 years. He was also in the Toora Rifle Club for the same number of years. Toora was identified on the information form for the (National) Roll of Honour as the place with which he was ‘chiefly connected’.
When Ferres enlisted in Melbourne on 22 August 1914, he was single and 25yo. The family had moved again and the address of his father, Robert Ferres, as his next-of-kin was given as Emerald. The father represented the riding of Emerald in the Ferntree Gully Shire. By the end of the War the family had moved, once more, to Prince Street, Kew. This last move probably came after the death of the mother – Caroline Elizabeth Ferres – in June 1916. As an indication of how well-known the family was, the following ‘personal’ note appeared in the Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative on 30 June 1915, soon after Private Ferres’ death was confirmed:
Signaller Sydney E. Ferres, who met his death at the war is the fifth son of Mr. R Ferres of Brookdale Farm, Emerald, and late of Toora, South Gippsland. He was a grandson of the late Mr. J Ferres, for many years Government Printer, and was 26 years of age. He was for six years butter maker at Handbury’s factory, Toora.
The father received a war pension of £52 per annum from 21/8/15 and there was also a life policy with The National Mutual Life Association of Australia, which appears to have been finalised relatively quickly, by August 1915.
Frederick Charles Kiellerup [sometimes written KILLERUP and even KEILLERUP]
Frederick Kiellerup was born in Narrandera, NSW. He attended Yarram State School and when he was killed at Gallipoli the Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative ran a note – 21 July 1915 – on his death, in which he was referred to as having been the Wertheim’s representative in Yarram. This suggests he lived in the town possibly into his twenties. Or perhaps he returned to the town for this work. He was a member of an unnamed rifle club for 3 years and, possibly, this was also from his time at Yarram. When he enlisted in Melbourne on 24 September 1914, his occupation was given as ‘traveller’ and as he was nearly 32yo at the time it is likely that he had spent a lot of time in country Victoria. On the information form for the (National) Roll of Honour, the place with which he was ‘chiefly connected’ was given as Euroa.
Unlike the great majority of volunteers at the time Kiellerup was married. His wife – Alster Kiellerup – was living in Richmond. Moreover, he enlisted as someone with 2 children: a son – Frederick Theodore Kiellerup – and daughter – Doris Freda Kiellerup. The wife received a pension of £52 per annum from 21/8/15 – the same as for the father of Sydney Ferres – and the 2 children also received pensions: the daughter as the eldest child received 20/- per fortnight and the son 15/- per fortnight. The wife remarried by 1920 and then lived at Moe. It was the daughter who completed the information for the (National) Roll of Honour.
The service file for Kiellerup reveals a revealing side story. In 1969, the son, Frederick Theodore Kiellerup, wrote to the Army requesting new ribbons for his father’s medals. He related how the medals had been damaged in the bush fires on Black Friday (13/1/39) and stated that he wanted to restore them before passing them to his son – Frederick Denis Kiellerup – who in turn planned to pass them to his son, Frederick Steven Kiellerup. In the space of not much more than 50 years the medals of a volunteer – who, with a wife and 2 children, was never expected to enlist – were committed to at least the next 3 generations, all of whom had been given the same name. The Army replaced the damaged medals.
Family enlistments: more brothers answer the call
Ferres and Kiellerup were the first from the family to enlist. The pattern of subsequent enlistments of brothers was to become common.
The older brother of Sydney Ferres – Harold Dunstan Gordon Ferres – was 30yo when he enlisted in January 1915. Unlike his younger brother who had given his occupation as ‘butter maker’, the older brother gave his occupation as ‘grazier’ and indicated that he had had a secondary education at Barclay College, Ararat. It was as if the brothers, 5 years apart in age, came from different families. The older brother’s career in the AIF was remarkable. He was appointed as 2nd Lieutenant as early as May 1915, just a few months after enlisting, and by the end of 1918 he held the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He also held the following decorations: Military Cross, Bar to Military Cross, Distinguished Service Order and Mentioned in despatches. It was an extraordinary military career. His younger brother, on the other hand, had been killed, as a private, in the opening weeks of the AIF’s war. But it was the younger brother who had enlisted first.
For the Kiellerup family it was a case of younger brothers following the oldest son’s example. There were 2 other brothers who enlisted after Frederick Charles Kiellerup. Genius Rudolph Kiellerup enlisted on 22 May 1915. He was only 18yo – and possibly even younger – when he enlisted. It is hard to believe that he knew then that his older brother had been killed just 2 weeks earlier, but at the very least he would have been influenced by his older brother’s enlistment. The other brother was Otto James Kiellerup who was 20yo when he enlisted on 10 July 1915. He definitely would have known of his older brother’s death and this must have been a factor in his decision to enlist. Apparently, there was yet another brother who enlisted – perhaps a step-brother – but it is not possible to identify him. The existence of the third brother is supported by the decision taken by the AIF in late 1917 to return the youngest brother – Genius Rudolph Kiellerup – to Australia, and discharge him on compassionate grounds. The background to this highly unusual action is revealed in the following request written by Corporal G R Kiellerup 3163, 59 Battalion, on 5 November 1917:
I hereby apply for permission to return to Australia to attend to business matters, having received word of the death of my father. I have had three brothers killed in action (one unofficially reported) and I have one brother at home who owing to physical defects, is unable to look after my family. I enlisted 24th June 1915 [it was actually 24 May]. Wounded 19th July, 1916. Fleur Baix. Age at present 18 11/12 years.
The father had died, the mother was in dire circumstances – the AIF even agreed to the family’s pleas to not publish details of the second son’s death for fear it would kill her – and there was no one to help. With 3 of the 4 brothers who had enlisted dead, the AIF agreed to repatriate the surviving son. While it is not possible to identify the third son killed, the first son to die was Sydney Kiellerup (8/5/15) and the second – the one then referred to as ‘unofficially reported’ – was Corporal Otto James Kiellerup who was killed at Fromelles on 19 July 1916. Note that the youngest son – Cpl Genius Kiellerup was also wounded at Fromelles (the battle was still then being referred to as Fleur Baix) and there is a statement from him in the relevant Red Cross report – 3160 Corporal Otto James Kiellerup – that describes how the two brothers parted company in the middle of the battle:
On July 19th 1916 the brother [Cpl Otto James Kiellerup] and I [Cpl Genius Kiellerup] went over the top together and on getting out towards the German lines we came across a ditch. Immediately to our front barbed wire stopped our progress from wading through the water. There the brother asked me to come to the left; but I seeing a better opening on right wouldn’t go so we parted.
He goes on to describe how his brother’s way was across a small bridge covered by German machine guns, and there was no hope for anyone who took it.
Overall, this post is a salutary reminder that the deaths at Gallipoli were just the beginning. There was far worse to come and more brothers were prepared to enlist. It is also striking how, back in Australia, death overseas produced a rippling effect of grief, hardship and irrevocable change.
Gippsland Standard and Alberton Shire Representative