Fred Stubbs cut a dashing figure photographed in 1916 in his Light Horse uniform with a plume of emu feathers in his hat.
But it was not long before he had swapped horses for horsepower, and was astride an altogether different beast as a motorcycle despatch rider.
One of 14 children of Albert and Maria Stubbs of Middle Park, Tamborine, Fred, a labourer, enlisted in the AIF on January 13, 1916, giving his age as 21 years and one month.
However, according to family records, he was only 18, having been born on January 24, 1898 at Tantawangalo near Bega in New South Wales.
Fred was initially assigned to the 8th reinforcements of the 11th Light Horse, but in June was taken on strength with the 3rd Light Horse Training Regiment at Tel el Kabir in the Middle East.
In July, 1917, Fred was assigned to the base signal depot at Moascar as Sapper Stubbs and in October joined the 1st Signal Squadron from Alexandria.
For the next year, Fred served as a motorcycle despatch rider, before being assigned to the 2nd Signal Squadron in October 1918 as the war neared its conclusion.
Fred spent another nine months in the Middle East before boarding the HT Magdalena in Alexandria in July 1919 – not to return to Australia but to travel to the United Kingdom.
While there, he was granted paid leave from September 11 to October 31 to go farming in Scotland.
Fred left England for Australia in December 1919 on the HT Konigen Luise, one of the German shipping spoils of war, and was discharged from the Army in March 1920.
The following year, he married May Barbour Goldie on September 19, 1921.
They had three daughters, twins Marie Ethel and Isobel Doris, born July 19, 1923 in Beaudesert, and Joyce May born May 20, 1927 in Brisbane.
In 1936, Fred became the lighthouse keeper at Cape Moreton and, during the next 22 years, was lightkeeper at Montagu Island and Smoky Cape.
He died at Kempsey, New South Wales, in 1960, aged 62.
In early 2015, as Australia prepared to commemorate the ANZAC Centenary, Fred’s younger brother, Basil, made the news when letters he had written at the outbreak of war to the Lieutenant Governor of Queensland, Sir Arthur Morgan, were discovered in the State Archives.
One, dated August 25, 1915, reflects the partiotic fervour sweeping the country, as 15-year-old Basil declares:
“I am not going to give up hope of filling in a post in the army. To the front I must go at all cost…Hurrah for old Britain. I remain Your’s Truely, Basil Stubbs”.
The next, dated September 19, addressed to Sir “Arther” and brimming with boyish enthsiasm outlines ‘several plans’ to assist ‘the Empire’.
“If 500 sharp-shoots were raised, I should like to help. I would like to have an interview with your Lordship. To the front I want to go if I can. This is one of my plans. There are German vessels captured in Brisbane. These ought to be turned into war vessels with some heavy guns, if they can be spared. I have the honour to be. Sir, Your obedient servant, Basil Stubbs.”
As a PS, Basil adds in the left margin:
“Excuse mistakes, I am in a hurry. Hurrah for old England”.