Fred was 21 yrs and 8 mths old when he enlisted on April 8 1916. Pte. Hinrichsen, 5th Battalion, AIF, embarked at Melbourne 11/9/16 and died of gas poisoning 27/4/18 and is buried in the tiny military cemetery at Caestre in the company of 149 British, 8 South African, 1 British West Indian and a further 31 Australian soldiers. The cemetery was used by front line units during the fighting to hold the 1918 German offensive and the opening phase of the subsequent advance to victory. Fred’s personal effects, at the time of his death, consisted of a cheque case, pipe, religious books, pocket case, metal mirror, cards, letters, photos, paper cuttings, packet of dried flowers and motor driver’s certificate. I wonder most about the flowers. Not all items were received by his parents as some were lost when the ship carrying them was torpedoed.
Fred was Geoff’s mother’s cousin and family history has it that he nursed little Winifred (Geoff’s mum) in his arms before he left Australia. The gas that killed him (& several others) was delivered by a British shell that dropped-short, exploding in his forward observation post. Such mistakes in the heat of battle were not uncommon.
The last time we visited Caestre was in 2008 and the small brick-walled cemetery was in the middle of large, cultivated fields. Now a new housing estate is being built close to the wall on one side. There will be many young families, all around, creating lives for themselves and bringing up new generations. Something to be celebrated.