Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Jenkins, Frederick John (1892–1983)

by A. Argent

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

Frederick John Jenkins (1892-1983), soldier and farmer, was born on 17 June 1892 at Kangaroo Flat, Bendigo, Victoria, seventh child of Morgan Jenkins, a miner from Wales, and his locally born wife Fanny, née Oldfield. Educated at the Bendigo Continuation School, he began teaching in the Victorian Education Department in 1909. He gained his trained teacher’s certificate in 1913 and was at Chute State School, near Beaufort, when he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 23 February 1915. He was posted to the 23rd Battalion.

In May Jenkins sailed for Egypt. His troopship, the Southland, was torpedoed en route to Gallipoli on 2 September and he was admitted to hospital at Mudros suffering from deafness. Joining his unit on the peninsula early in October, he served there until December. In March 1916 he went with his battalion to France as a substantive sergeant. He was awarded a Military Medal for his actions on 28 July at Pozières, where, with two other soldiers, he destroyed an enemy machine-gun while under heavy fire; he was wounded in the right hand.

Jenkins was commissioned in August 1917. For his conduct during the third battle of Ypres, Belgium, in September-October, in which he `set a splendid example to his men’, he was awarded the Military Cross. He had been mentioned in despatches. In November he was promoted to lieutenant. On 23 April 1918 he was again wounded, in his right arm and face. After recovering, he returned to his unit in July and was awarded a Bar to his MC for his actions as company commander in the capture of Mont St Quentin, France, on 1 September. The citation read: `by his splendid leadership, courage and initiative he was able to advance 600 yards [549 m] in the face of fierce machine-gun fire, capturing eighty prisoners and causing heavy enemy casualties. Later he made a daring reconnaissance over very exposed ground’.

After his AIF appointment terminated in Melbourne on 15 July 1919, Jenkins went back to schoolteaching for a short time, but resigned to take up a soldier-settlement block at Red Cliffs on the Murray River. On 15 September 1926 he married Doris Holliwell Lewis, a dressmaker, at the Church of England, Red Cliffs. In 1936 the family moved to a 3000-acre (1214 ha) property at Condamine, Queensland, and began a cattle-fattening business, then switched to dairy farming and, later, growing wheat and other grain crops.

Mobilised in the Militia on 23 October 1942, Jenkins was posted to the 31st Employment (Works) Company in Brisbane. He transferred to the AIF in February 1943, was made temporary captain in October and appointed second-in-command of his company in July 1944. His AIF appointment terminated on 7 September and he returned to his property. Tall and slim, he had the medium complexion of his father’s Welsh forebears. He had a strong character and was a natural leader, whether on active service or duck-hunting or fishing with friends. Jenkins took a close interest in the Condamine Rodeo, the Condamine State School and the Miles Soldiers’ Club. He died on 27 June 1983 at Miles and was cremated; his three sons and daughter survived him. His eldest son, Glyn, was a member of the Victorian Legislative Council in 1970-82 and a minister in 1981-82.

Select Bibliography

  • Victoria: The Education Department’s Record of War Service, 1914-1919 (1921)
  • C. E. W. Bean, The A.I.F. in France 1918 (1942)
  • K. M. Wright, A Land Fit for Heroes (1995)
  • R. J. Austin, Forward Undeterred (1998)
  • series B2455, item Jenkins Frederick John, and series B883, item QX50131 (National Archives of Australia)
  • private information.

Citation details

A. Argent, 'Jenkins, Frederick John (1892–1983)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/jenkins-frederick-john-12696/text22887, published in hardcopy 2007, accessed online 16 September 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

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