Bertram Fidler WW1

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Record 29/128
Copyright Marlborough Museum - Marlborough Historical Society Inc
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Collection MHS (unaccessioned) Photograph
Description Sepia wooden framed photograph of Bertram J. Fidler in WW1 uniform taken at Talma Studio, King William Street, Adelaide, Australia. This is part of the A.M. Hale Collection and on the back are two lots of information. On a yellow label: "Bertrum J. Fidler, (South Australia) early secretary, R.S.A. Blenheim, World War 1".

Written in blue ink on the back of the photograph in A.M. Hales's hand is: "Bertram J. Fidler was born at Mount Barker, South Australia. Wounded on Gallipoli, came to Blenheim, became secretary of the R.S.A., Blenheim. The office was in Duncan & Mogridge's building in High Street, Blenheim, now Boyes Land Agent (1971). B.J. Fidler returned to the war in Egypt and died of dysentery. He was interested in ?...? farming".

Bertram Hay Fidler is on the New Zealand B.D.M. records as dying in 1918, no age recorded.

A TRUE ANZAC, written by Gordon Fidlier November 21, 2013 for the online site 'Gallipoli history'.

Thanks to Gordon Fidler for sharing the story of his great-uncle Bertram Hay Fidler and supplying his photo. Gordon’s account below has been abridged.

Bertram Hay Fidler served with both the Australian and New Zealand Armies in the First World War. He enlisted in the Australian Army, aged 37, in 1915 in the 3rd Reinforcement, 10th Battalion of the 3rd Australian Infantry Brigade. He landed at Anzac Cove on 25th April 1915.

image of Bertram Hay Fidler. Photograph courtesy of Gordon and Galina Fidler.
Bertram Hay Fidler was 37 years old when he first enlisted in the Australian Army.
Photograph courtesy of Gordon and Galina Fidler.

Fidler saw three months of fighting at Gallipoli before he was wounded on 30th July 1915 which resulted in his right eye being removed in Malta. He returned to Australia and was appointed Recruiting Sergeant for the Mount Barker district, South Australia. In April 1916, he was discharged from the Australian Army. Army records show that he attempted to re-enlist but was rejected as “Permanently Unfit”.

Fidler arrived in Wellington, New Zealand, in early 1917 and applied to join the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. He was accepted as being “fit for home service” but he didn’t give up hope or the determination to return to the war front.

In mid-1917, Fidler was appointed as the organiser of the Land Committee of the Marlborough Patriotic Society for the repatriation of Marlborough soldiers. He is recognised as having introduced into New Zealand the idea of grants of land for returning soldiers after having experienced this scheme in Australia. This came to be called “The Fidler Scheme or System” in newspaper articles in Marlborough and was still being noted in 1919.

Image of 1st reinforcements on board the World War I troopship Willochra, Wellington.
1st reinforcements on board the World War I troopship Willochra, Wellington. Original photographic prints and postcards from file print collection, Box 15. Ref: PAColl-7081-55. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22840706

Then, in April 1918, the YMCA asked Fidler to be a representative of the Marlborough district among the soldiers at the front. Finally, here was his chance to rejoin the fighting. He left Wellington on the troopship Willorcha, arriving in Suez, Egypt in May 1918 to take up the position of YMCA (NZ) Secretary.

Unfortunately he was admitted to hospital with diarrhoea on 11th June 1918. That same day he was rediagnosed with dysentery and placed on the “Dangerously Ill” list. He died in the Government Hospital, Suez, Egypt on 27th June 1918 and is buried in Egypt.

Bertram Hay Fidler is listed on both the Tears on Greenstone Memorial in the National Army Museum and the Commemorative Roll in the Australian War Memorial in Canberra.

In a letter home to his family in 1915, he said that he’d climbed to the top of the pyramids in Egypt, despite six Australians falling to their deaths doing the same activity. He said the view was worth it. [source: http://www.gallipoli2015.govt.nz/a-true-anzac].
Year Range from 1914
Year range to 1918
Object ID 0000.900.1531
Object Name Photograph
People Fidler, Bertram Hay
Place King William Street, Adelaide, Australia
Studio Talma Studio
Title Bertram Fidler WW1
When using this image please quote "Image courtesy of Marlborough Museum - Marlborough Historical Society Inc"

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Last modified on: November 16, 2015