Gurney, Frederick William. Died 15th Mar 1915

Frederick William Gurney’s birth was registered in the second quarter of 1895 in Newport Pagnell registration district, Buckinghamshire.

In the 1901 census the family were living in Duncombe Street, Fenny Stratford, Buckinghamshire.   Frederick, aged 5, was the youngest of seven children and his parents were Lewis Gurney aged 45 and Hannah Gurney aged 42. His father was a Railway Inspector in the Permanent Way Department of the railway. His parents married in 1880, in Leighton Buzzard.

Unfortunately Frederick’s mother Hannah died in the second quarter of 1904.

In the 1911 census it shows that Frederick’s father, Lewis, had married again to Alice Warwick, and Alice’s two children by a former marriage (who had been born in Rugby) were in the household along with five of Lewis’s older children and two children from his second marriage to Alice. Frederick was, at age 15, a “disengaged errand boy”. The family was living at Duncombe Street, Fenny Stratford. Frederick’s father was still a Railway Inspector with the LNWR railway.

Alice Gurney died aged 40 in the third quarter of 1913. Lewis would only have been aged 57.

In the second quarter of 1914 Frederick’s father, Lewis, married for a third time, in the registration district of Newport Pagnell, to a lady, Emma Howe.

Frederick enlisted with the 4th Battalion of the King’s Royal Rifles on 2 September 1914 in Rugby. He was posted on 9 September. His trade on enlistment was a cleaner. [1]

The 4th battalion came under the orders of 80th Brigade in the 27th Division and embarked from Southampton, landing in Le Havre on 20 December 2014 to concentrate on the area between Aire and Arques. Under the command of Col George Thesiger, on the night of 14-15 March, Frederick was probably fighting with the battalion in a counterattack to recapture key positions in Saint Eloi, near the southern shoulder of the Ypres Salient, which had been taken during a German attack several hours earlier. Although the battalion finally recaptured Saint Eloi, the Germans beat back the 4th’s repeated attacks. The battalion suffered over 100 casualties in the partially successful attack: 34 killed in action (including six officers), 63 wounded and six missing.[2]

It appears that Frederick was one of the 34 killed in action. He “died of wounds received in Action 15.3.15” according to the military history sheet of his service record.[3]

Frederick Gurney was awarded the British, Victory and 1915 Star Medals.

In the record of Soldiers who died in the Great War, Frederick William Gurney’s death is recorded as 16 March 1915.   In the Register of Soldiers Effects, Frederick William Gurney, Regimental number Z2264, left £2 14s 8d to Lewis Gurney, Father and Sole Legatee who lived at 39 Duncombe Street, Buckinghamshire [4].

Frederick is remembered on Panel 46 – 48 and 50 of the Menin Gate Ypres and the Rugby Steam Shed Memorial Plaque.

[1] Short Service Attestation

[2] Edited from


[4] Both references from


NOTE: There is another F W (Francis William) Gurney, also living in Duncombe Street, Fenny Stratford, who died 15th September 1916. He enrolled at Norwich and served in the Norfolk Regiment. His father was born in Rugby.
Since Frederick William enrolled in Rugby and also had a family connection with the town, we assume he is the F W Gurney on the Rugby Memorial.


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