Frederick William Pywell was born in Rugby in 1885 and was baptised in St Matthews Church on 31 May. His parents were Edmund and Sarah (nee Gamble) and Edmund’s occupation was farmer. When they married, in Coventry, on 19th Feb 1881, Edmund was a cab driver from Saddington, Leics and Sarah was a carrier’s daughter from Harborough Magna.
The family soon settled in James Street, Rugby where Edmund was a domestic groom. In 1901, at the age of 16 Frederick was working as a domestic page. Sarah died in 1902 and sometime after that Edmund joined the London and North Western Railway. In 1911 his occupation was Dining Car Attendant and he was lodging in Bartholomew Road, Kentish Town. Two years later he married Ellen Lavinia Flewitt (or Flawith) and they had a son Frederick Richard Pywell in 1914.
Frederick William Pywell joined the 21st Bn, Duke of Cambridge’s Own (Middlesex) Regiment. (Serjeant, No. G/15761). This regiment was formed in July 1915 and landed in France in June 1916. They were involved in action on the Western Front including The Battle of the Ancre in 1916. And in 1917, the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line (March) and the capture of Fifteen Ravine, Villers Plouich, Beaucamp and La Vacquerie (April and early May)
At the start of April 1917 the 21st Regt was employed in mending the Moislains – Nurlu Road. After a day’s rest on the 3rd spent in inspections, bathing and foot treatment, the 4th was spent on the Bouchauednes- Clery road.
On the 5th the whole Battalion was moved to Etricourt and orders were received to take over the front line (Gouzeaucourt Wood). This was done on the 6th and the 7th was quiet with intermittent hostile shelling. They worked on the trenches.
At 6.30 the following morning the enemy opened a “Heavy and accurate barrage on the trenches occupied by B Coy. This continued throughout the day at intervals causing heavy casualties.” At dusk the company dug in new position 100 yards in rear. “Orders received for operation to take place on 9th.” The front line was readjusted.
War Diaries 21st Middlesex Rgt
April 9: At 3.00 pm 2 platoons of C Coy with 1 platoon of D as carrying party went over under moderate barrage. Objective 1 Cross Roads Q.23.c Objective II Cross Roads Q.23.a First Objective was reached with slight opposition at 3.21 pm. Consolidation commenced and one platoon under F S BRYAN proceeded towards second objective soon after coming under fire from three M.G.s causing several casualties. Our artillery failed to locate the guns. The platoon dug in and several attempts were made to reach the cross roads by patrolling round.
4.30 pm Our party of 8 under 2/lieut BRYAN actually reached the road but were wiped out except Lieut BRYAN.
Enemy shelling considerably increased causing many casualties
B Coy on left and A Coy on right had by this time covered the flanks by patrols.
5.10 Patrol of A Coy with Lewis Gun sent to assistance of a patrol of 13th B Yorks which had been heavily engaged by enemy.
5.30 Situation quiet
6.45 New position counter attacked on both flanks. Both L.G.s were out of action and casualties amounted to about 40. Another platoon on D sent up and a local counter attack under Capt Laidlaw which threatened to outflank the enemy caused them to retire.
7.00 Night quiet except for intermittent artillery & M.G. fire.
Line eventually established approximately Q.29b.1.2, Q29.a.8.6. Cross Road Q.23.c, Q.22.b 65-10. Q.22.a.5.1, Q.22.a.2.9. this giving a commanding position on high ground commanding Cross Road Q.23.a.
Communication with Artillery, Right Left Battalions and Battn HQ good.
Communication with Brigade only moderate owing to breaks in the wire. Touch kept through the Artillery.
26 other ranks killed,
38 other ranks wounded,
1 wounded and missing *
April 10 Quiet day, Battalion relieved by 20th Bn Middlesex Rgt commencing at 8.30 pm The Corps Division and Brigade Commander send their congratulations on result of the operation of 9th.
* One body since discovered and buried unidentified assumed to be that of missing man 30.4.17
Frederick William Pywell is recorded as dying on 10th April 1917. It is not known if he is the unidentified body, but since his grave is not known, this may be him.
He is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial.
RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM