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17 November 2009

Private George Frederick Dall of Blackwood

Image: Courtesy of Morgan Dall
George Frederick Dall was a son of George Frederick and Annie Dall of Blackwood. He was known as Fred to avoid confusion with his father, who had been living in the area for over 60 years when the war began, and was a significant community leader. According to birth and military records Fred was born near Laura, SA in 1890. He attended Coromandel Valley School and moved to Tintinara, SA in 1908 where he farmed a large property. His brother Walter ran a neighboring farm.
Fred enlisted at the age of 25 at Keswick, SA on 5 July 1915 and was allocated to the 32nd Battalion. The 32nd Battalion was a mixed South Australian and Western Australian unit. fred left Adelaide on 18 November 1915 aboard the transport 'Geelong'. The battalion arrived in Suez in December 1915 and commenced training. In April 1916, Fred was selected to be a driver in the transport section of the battalion. The transport section consisted of one officer, a sergeant and two dozen soldiers who were responsible for the unit's horse-drawn transport and pack animals. The transport section were usually located a short distance behind the frontline, and were responsible for carrying supplies forward to the companies of the battalion, such as food, ammunition and water. In late June 1916, the battalion shipped to France, landing in Marseilles and moving by train to training areas behind the front.
Fred arrived in Morbeque, France on 4 July 1916, and during the next two weeks the battalion was billeted in several towns including the town of Fleurbaix. On the evening of 19 July 1916, only three days after they entered the trenches for the first time, the 32nd Battalion were committed to the disastrous Battle of Fromelles, where the unit took 718 casualties, comprising 90% of the strength of the battalion before the attack commenced. The 32nd spent some time being reinforced and re-trained, and spent some time in the trenches during the remainder of 1916, but was involved in no more large-scale battles that year.
In March 1917, Fred was hospitalised for a couple of weeks due to illness, but after returning to the battalion on 4 April 1917, spent the rest of the war with the battalion in France. During this time the 32nd Battalion fought the Battle of Polygon Wood in September 1917, the Battle of Amiens in August 1918, and the capture of the Hindenburg Line in September and October 1918. Fred's cousin Private Joseph William Dall served with the 10th Battalion and survived the war.
Fred left Europe to return to Australia in May 1919, and was discharged in Adelaide on 12 August 1919. He returned to Tintinara after the war and married a former nurse from the United Kingdom who had emigrated to Australia to marry another returned serviceman, but had second thoughts and married Fred instead. While they were farming near Tintinara, Fred's brother Walter and his sister-in-law were murdered by an itinerant worker and their daughter abducted. In 1938 Fred and family moved to Smithfield. During the Second World War, Fred worked at the munitions factory at Penfield and a son served with the RAAF. They later moved to Mallala. When he retired in 1950 they lived on South Road near the old John H. Ellers car yard.
Fred died on 5 November 1956 at the age of 66, was cremated at Centennial Park and his ashes scattered. His name is inscribed on the Blackwood Soldiers Memorial.

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