Sunday, 20 January 2013

Pte Frederick Jacobs

Frederick Jacobs came from a military & naval background, his father Samuel retiring from the Army as a Sergeant with the 77th Foot (later Middlesex Regt) just before Fred and his twin Charles were born in 1882. Samuel then became a Civil Guard in the prison at Portland before disappearing into the historical mire! We know he married Jane Wall and that both of them were living in Portsmouth at the time of Fred's death, but the era in between is a bit of a mystery. In 1891, Fred, his twin and older brothers William and Ernest were to be found in the Portsea Island Union Workhouse, living as Paupers. His eldest brother George was living with his grandfather. Of his parents, I can find no trace. Although I cannot find a death, I believe Samuel died between 1881 & 1891 as Jane is found as a widow in 1901. Her death is recorded in 1928. She still added his name to Fred's CWGC certificate.

As often happened in Victorian times, the boys in the workhouse were encouraged to join the Forces. Ernest joined the Navy and became a ship's cook. Charles joined the Cameron Highlanders and in 1911 was a musician stationed in Aldershot. Fred himself joined up as a Boy Soldier in 1897, age 14. He became a Drummer in the Royal Munster Fusiliers and saw action in South Africa from 1899 to 1902. His medals held clasps for Wittenberg, the Transvaal and Cape Colony. He was then sent to India and whilst there, transferred to the Royal Scots Fusiliers. He returned to the UK in 1906 and discharged as unfit for further service in April 1907.
Bugles & Drums of RMF in South Africa. Which one is Fred?
After discharge, Fred went back to Portsmouth to live with his Aunt Eva, Jane's sister and started work in the Naval Dockyard. At some point, he must have joined 3rd Wessex Field Ambulance, probably when the TF was embodied in 1908. Despite being unfit for active service, he would have been a useful soldier, and as a Drummer, might have had some first aid experience.

War was declared in 1914, and Fred went overseas with 26th Field Ambulance, as 3rd WFA was re-named. He was promoted Corporal but in the winter of 1916, he was taken ill. On 20 Jan 1917, he died, probably in a CCS near Dury Hospital on the Amiens Road, France. He was buried in their cemetery, but after the war, his grave was moved to the Australian Cemetery at Villers-Bretonneaux along with over 400 of his fellow casualties, where he now lies with over 2,000 war casualties.

1 comment:

  1. I have a confirmed photo of Fred Jacobs . How can I get it to you for the blog