Among the Cape Barren Islanders was Frederick William Brown. Frederick stated that he was a 37 year old single labourer when he enlisted on 6 December 1916. His description was of a man with a dark complexion, brown eyes and black hair. He was allotted to the 8th Reinforcements for the 40th Battalion. Enlisting the same day was Morgan Mansell also from Cape Barren Island.
Frederick Brown was born on 10 August 1880, the son of William Richard Brown and his wife Sarah Ann Maynard. His mother died when Frederick was just two years old and later re married. Frederick’s attestation papers would suggest that he was illiterate or barely literate.
In June 1917 Frederick and Morgan Mansell departed from Sydney on board the Hororata bound for England and arriving there in late August. The men were then marched into Larkhill for further training.
On 27th December, Frederick Brown left England for the ‘front’ along with Morgan Mansell, both being ‘taken on strength’ in the field on 1 January 1918. Both were hospitalised during February with bronchitis.
According to the 40th Battalion history around 26/27 April 1918 the unit was involved in raiding parties in the region of Dernancourt. It would appear that Frederick Brown was part of the second party that attacked an enemy post located in a ruined building on the bank of the Ancre, about 500 yards north of Ville-sur-Ancre. During the attack he sustained a gunshot wound to his left leg. Passing through the normal channels Frederick Brown ended up in England for treatment and rehabilitation before returning to France in late October 1918.
On 10th April 1919 Private Frederick Brown was marched out for England. In August he was granted indefinite leave to return to Australia per the Benalla. Frederick Brown disembarked at Melbourne on 25 November 1919 and was formally discharged on 4th January 1920.
Just days before he left to return to France, Frederick married Martha Williams in Dorset, England. Martha later joined him here in Tasmania and lived on Cape Barren Island along with her daughter before being sent to Launceston to live. From the newspaper account of the divorce proceedings, the marriage was relatively short lived with Frederick Brown failing to support his wife and child resulting in him falling foul of the law.
According to his Repatriation file he had plans to buy a boat and to go fishing, but all this seems to have come to naught. In February 1931, now aged 50, Frederick Brown died and was laid to rest in Carr Villa Memorial Park. But it is most unlikely that his family were in a financial position to able to afford a headstone for him, living in much reduced circumstances as the Depression bit harder into the government’s support for the Indigenous community on remote, but beautiful Cape Barren Island.