No.3005 – Lance Corporal Fisher Beard – 3rd Pioneer Battalion AIF
Fisher Beard was born in Semaphore, South Australia in 1892 to Walter Fisher Beard and Emma Eliza Beard (nee Heath). His family relocated to "The Anchorage” 118 Tuckfield Street, Fremantle in 1904. It was in Fremantle that Walter Fisher Beard established the drapery business, Fisher Beard & Co., in Adelaide Street adjacent to Pellews & Co.
Prior to World War One, Fisher Beard had established himself as a farmer in Kulin, Western Australia.
His war records show that he started his enlisted at Blackboy Hill on 2 April 1916, however, it was not until 25 September 1916 that he returned and completed his enlistment into the 6th reinforcement of the 3rd Pioneers. It is unclear what caused this delay in finishing his enlistment, but the Registry of Births, Death and Marriages shows that Fisher Beard married Gertrude Christina Wilson on 19 September 1916.
Here is the happy couple in 1916 (the identity of the driver is unknown):
Fisher's war records show that he was 23 years and 3 months old at enlistment, married and described as 5ft 7½in tall, of ruddy complexion, with brown eyes and light brown hair. He is also recorded as belonging to the Church of England.
Fisher left Fremantle on HMAT Persic on 29 December 1916. After arriving in England, Fisher trained at Fovant before going on to France on 8 September 1917.
From his training camp in Fovant he sent home to his wife Gertrude the following postcard:
He was awarded the Military Medal on 22 August 1918. The citation reads:
"On the morning of the 22nd August, 1918, between Etinhem and the Front Line immediately West of Bray-Sur-Somme, No 3005 Private Fisher Beard, who was a Runner attached to Battalion Headquarters, had to be sent with Despatches from D.H.Q. to the Companies in the line. This work was of a very important nature, owing to the heavy enemy artillery fire, communication was extremely difficult, as lines were continuously broken.
On three occasions Private Beard made this trip, not only in the early morning, but later in the day when he was under full observation. Although subjected to very heavy artillery fire, and on approaching the Line, under direct rifle and machine gun fire, he successfully accomplished his task, showing exceptional courage and devotion to duty and setting a fine example to all ranks. His coolness throughout, and the promptness and despatch with which he carried out his duties are worthy of the very highest praise.”
Gertrude would receive the following in 1919 regarding the medal:
Sadly, in November 1918 Fisher’s father died suddenly. In fact, it was upon hearing of the armistice being signed, and World War One finally being at an end that according to the Daily News: "Being always intensely patriotic, the news that peace was at hand seemed to unduly excite him, with the result that he was taken ill last evening, and died at 2 o’clock this morning, the cause of death being cerebral haemorrhage.”
The paper reported that "the late Mr Fisher Beard was 55 years of age, and leaves a widow and two sons. The elder, Mr Digby Beard, is manager of the business of Fisher Beard and Co., and the younger son, Fisher Beard, has been away for the past two years on active service.”
Fisher returned to Australia from war service on 28 February 1919 on the Anchises and was formally discharged after a dental and medical assessment.
He soon returned to his farm in Kulin, and to his wife, Gertrude.
In 1931 upon the death of his older brother and mother, Fisher returned to Fremantle and the family Drapery Business.
This image of the business is thought to have been taken in the 1924 when the business was located at 34 Adelaide Street:
This image of the business was taken during the Royal visit in 1954 when the business was located on the corner of Adelaide & Queen Streets:
In 1940, Fisher ran for, and was elected to, Fremantle City Council after a seat became vacant. He came into office on 21 August 1940 representing the City Ward as well as being involved in the Standing Committee for Health. He was re-elected in 1942 but resigned on 15 March 1943 citing a "change of residence" and the pressures of running the drapery business as the reason.
Faithe Jones, WWI Pictorial Honour Roll of Western Australians, http://ww1wa.gravesecrets.net/be-bi.html
Many thanks to Lindsay Doust for donating these images to the Fremantle History Centre in the Fremantle City Library. These images are available in their new online image collection.