Second World War, 1939-1945
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Album relating to 501071 Senior Sister Thelma Minnie (Thel) Childs (nee Moxham) RRC RAAF and her ...
Album relating to 501071 Senior Sister Thelma Minnie (Thel) Childs (nee Moxham) RRC RAAF and her husband, NX57501 Captain Frederick Harold (Fred) Childs MC, 24th Battalion.
Thelma Moxham was born in Singleton on 12th July 1914, the fifth of six children to Henry and Minnie Moxham. Following her father’s death in the influenza epidemic of 1919, the family moved to Dubbo in 1922. Thelma graduated as a nurse at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney in 1937 and was invited on staff at the Hospital. She enlisted in the newly formed RAAF Nursing Service in late 1940, was promoted to Senior Sister in 1942, sent on special medical escort duty to the United States, England and Canada between January and June 1943 and served in New Guinea in charge of No2 Medical Clearing Station, Madang, between July 1943 and December 1944. In early 1945 Senior Sister Thelma Childs returned to Australia and served Acting Matron at ‘Rona’, No3 RAAF Hospital, Bradfield Park. Her appointment in the RAAF Nursing Service was terminated due to her marriage. In 1946 she was awarded the Royal Red Cross Medal (First Class).
The first child of Archibald and Rebecca (nee Deane), Frederick Harold Childs was born on 21st February 1914 at Waratah NSW. In 1929 the family moved to Dubbo NSW, where Fred passed the Leaving Certificate in 1931 at Dubbo High School, in the same year as his fellow school prefect, Thelma Moxham. In 1932 Fred commenced a clerkship with Chartered Accountants Tayler & Warby in Dubbo until 1938 when his family relocated to Sydney and settled in Dulwich Hill. Frederick enlisted on 15th July 1940, and following his appointment to Lieutenant (Lt) in March 1942, he embarked at Townsville per ‘Duntroon’ in March of 1943 for New Guinea and was transferred to 24th Battalion.
Lt Frederick Childs was wounded in action at Markham Point on 4th September 1943 and for his actions over the next four days was awarded the Military Cross. His citation reads “During the action at Markham Point in New Guinea during the period 4th-8th September 1943, Lt Childs led his platoon with great gallantry and determination. On 4th September he penetrated the enemy’s strong defences and gained the inner line, although wounded in both legs he continued to direct the operations of his platoon under heavy fire. The position was held for over seven hours before it was overrun. Lt Childs then assisted one of his badly wounded men to crawl through enemy lines. Although unable to rise from the ground, Lt Childs shot an enemy soldier who attempted to despatch the crawling men. After crawling for four days with badly flyblown wounds and without water, Lt Childs and the soldier reached their own lines. Lt Child throughout made careful notes of the enemy dispositions. His example was an inspiration to his men.”
Following the fighting at Markham Point, Lt Child's family were formally notified on 7th September that he was missing. A telegram notifying them of his survival was delivered on 21 September, days after they saw a photograph of him being stretchered by Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels in a Red Cross photo published in the Australian Press (see AWM2016.3126.96.36.199) Lt Childs returned to Australia on the hospital ship ‘Manunda’ in October 1943 and was admitted to 113 AGH at Concord NSW. Four wards at Concord were allocated to No 3 RAAF Hospital and a chance conversation led Lt Childs to enquire after his old classmate, Thelma Moxham, who was in the RAAF Nursing Service. He was informed she was embarking for New Guinea the next day. Due to his injuries, Lt Childs spent the entirety of 1944 and the early part of 1945 between 113 AGH and Lady Wakehurst Convalescent Hospital. Upon release, he was promoted to Captain and posted to Victoria Barracks until his discharge on 7th January 1946.
Captain F.H Childs MC married Senior Sister T. Moxham on 6th November 1945. Following the war, the couple had two sons. Frederick Harold Childs died on 8th February 1986, his wife Thelma on 13th March 2003.