Warden, Frederick Harold Bert. Died 27th Aug 1917

Frederick Harold Bert WARDEN was born in Rugby, probably in early 1897 or very late 1896. His birth was registered in Q1, 1897 in Rugby, when he was named as Frederick Bertie H Warden. He was the son of Edward [b.c.1863, Warwick] and Kate née Morris [b.c.1864, Rugby] Warden. Their marriage was registered in Q3, 1883.

Frederick was baptised on 5 February 1897 at St. Andrew’s, Rugby, when the family were living at 18 Spring Street, Rugby.   In 1901, when he was four, his father was a newspaper reporter, and his much older sister was a dressmaker and his much older brother was a carpenter’s apprentice. The family was now living at 78 Bath Street, Rugby.

By 1911, when Frederick was 14, he was in lodgings with Mr and Mrs Gill in Cromwell Road, Rugby and working as a ‘Clerk’ in the ‘Poor Law Office’.

It is uncertain when or where he enlisted, but he was enlisted first as a Private, No.2188, in a Royal Warwickshire Regiment (RWR) possibly in a Reserve Battalion. Unusually the same number was also allocated to two other soldiers in the RWR. He was subsequently promoted to Lance Corporal, No.265369 and later served with ‘C’ Company, 1st/7th Bn. Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

The 1st/7th Battalion was raised in August 1914 in Coventry as part of the Warwickshire Brigade, South Midland Division. They landed at Le Havre on 22 March 1915, and then on 13 May 1915 were renamed the 143rd Brigade, 48th (South Midland) Division, which also included the 1st/5th and the 1st/6th RWR.

Frederick went to France on 25 June 1915, presumably joining his Battalion which was already in France. Their Division took part in various actions on the Western Front including during 1916: The Battle of Albert, the Battle of Bazentin Ridge, the Battle of Pozieres Ridge, and later the Battle of the Ancre Heights, and the Battle of the Ancre, all being parts of the Battle of the Somme.

Frederick was reported[1] as a casualty in July 1916, presumably he was wounded during the battle of the Somme. Whilst there is no Service Record for him, he obviously recovered to be in action again, possibly at Arras in 1917 and then probably in the actions of the German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line in 1917 and then in the Battle of Langemarck, one of the earlier actions of the 3rd Battle of Ypres.

The Battalion Diary[2] records that in June the 1st/7th Battalion was at Louverval, France, to the south-east of Arras.   In early July they had marched to Gomiecourt to the west, and were training at Bienvillers. By 20 July they were at Halloy and then on 22 July marched to Authieule where they entrained for St Jan-ter-Biezen, in Belgium.

Having now had about a month’s training, on the night of 30/31 July the Battalion followed the 1st/6th Bn. RWR and marched via Poperinghe, Poperinghe-Elverdinghe Road, and the Chemin Militaire, into the Corps Reserve at Camp ‘C’ in Belgium.   On 31 July they were in support of 39th Division which attacked north-east of Ypres, and from 1 to 7 August they were having easy training, mainly short route marches.

On 8 August the Battalion left ‘C’ Camp and moved to ‘Canal Bank’. By 11 August they were in the St Julien sector and subject to heavy shelling and sniping. The enemy also used quantities of ‘mustard oil gas shells’.

The Battalion then moved several times over the next few days from St Julien, to the Yser Canal Bank, back to Dambre Camp on 15 August and then back again to the Canal Bank on 16 August as reserves. On 22 August the attack on Spot Farm and Springfield started, however, the tanks which were to take on the blockhouses all became ditched. On 26 August preparations were made for C and D Companies to attack Springfield Farm. On 27 August, D Company was successful in capturing Springfield Farm and then handed over to the 8th Bn. Worcestershires. A & B Companies went by train to Poperinge and C & D Companies rejoined the Battalion at Poperinghe on 28 August.

Sometime during the various actions on 27 August 1917, Frederick was ‘Killed in Action’.

His body was either never found or not identified. He is remembered on one of the Panels 23 to 28 and 163A of the Tyne Cot Memorial. The Tyne Cot Memorial is one of four memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders which cover the area known as the Ypres Salient. Whereas those who died before 16 August 1917 are remembered on the Menin Gate, the United Kingdom servicemen who died after that date are named on the memorial at Tyne Cot. Frederick Warden is also commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates in Hillmorton Road, Rugby.

On 31 August 1918, his brother and sister each received a £4-9-7d share of the money that was owed to Frederick, and they then shared his War Gratuity receiving £6-15-0d each on 1 December 1919. On 8 August 1921, his brother P E Warden applied for Frederick’s medals – the British War and Victory Medals, and in view of his early service, the 1915 Star.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

 

[1]       Rugby Remembers, 22 July 2017: https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2016/07/22/22nd-jul-1916-helping-the-prisoners-of-war/ – with transcription from: Rugby Advertiser, 22 July 1916.

[2]       The National Archives, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, 48th Division, Piece 2756: 143 Infantry Brigade, 1/7 Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment; also available on www.ancestry.co.uk.

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