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Dadswell Family

Fred (Archibald Frederick) Dadswell

Fred (Archibald Frederick) Dadswell, who lived and died in Perth, Western Australia, was adopted out by his unmarried mother, sailed to Australia when only 14, enlisted at the time of World War One only to become a prisoner-of-war shortly after arriving in France.

He was born on 10 August 1897 at Ashley, near Stockbridge, Hampshire, the son of Mary Ann Dadswell, a housekeeper of Ashley. No father was named on the birth certificate.

Within a short time, he was adopted by Charles and Ann (Aslett) Deadman, and at the time of the 1901 census he is shown living with this family of 8 children at Basing, Hampshire.
Australian prisoners of war
He was still living with the Deadman family at the time of the 1911 census but on 26 April 1912 he sailed from London aboard the Orient Line ship Orvieto with the intention of travelling to Fremantle, Western Australia. He was described on the passenger list as a 14-year-old grocer's assistant. In Perth he worked as a packer.

Fred Dadswell was aged 18 when on 5 January 1916 he enlisted in the Australian Infantry Forces at Perth for service in World War One. At the time of his enlistment, he said he did not know the names of his parents but gave Mrs Rose Robinson of Fremantle as his next of kin. (Rose was formerly Rose Deadman, one of the children he grew up with and who he may well have regarded as his 'sister').

He embarked for overseas service with the 28th Battalion on 1 April 1916 aboard the troopship HMAT Ulysses.

By mid-July he was in action in France but within a fortnight he was reported as killed in action. Subsequently the Army learned that he had been wounded by gunfire during fighting at Pozières on 29 July 1916 and taken prisoner by German soldiers. He was held as a prisoner in Germany until his transfer to Switzerland on 13 December 1916 and repatriated to England on 14 September 1917.

He arrived back in Australia on 4 March 1918, was discharged from the Army and was given a pension because of war injuries.

Archibald Dadswell, who was known to Australian friends as Fred, returned to his work as a packer, living in Sandgate Street, South Perth for many years. On his retirement in the 1960s, he moved to Wrexham Street, Bicton.

He died at Craigville Hospital, Melville, Perth on 5 July 1984 at the age of 86.

Picture: Australian ex-prisoners-of-war after repatriation from Germany to England. Fred (Archibald Frederick) Dadswell is in the front row, standing on the right hand side. Australian War Memorial photo P03236.158.


The birth certificate for Archibald Frederick Dadswell names Mary Ann Dadswell as his mother. She is described as a housekeeper of Ashley, Hampshire.

It is unclear but Mary Ann MAY be the daughter of agricultural labourer Alfred Dadswell and his wife Sarah. If so, she was born at Uckfield in 1880, and was baptised on 25 July 1881.

The 1881 census shows Mary Ann living with an older sister Elizabeth and their parents at Frogs Hole, Rotherfield. In 1891 - three years after the birth of Archibald - this Mary Ann is shown living with her parents in Queens Road, Rotherfield.

If this Mary Ann is the mother, she would have been aged 17 at the time of Archibald's birth.

- Information compiled February 2016

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