Bosworth, Frederick Albert. Died 30th Jun 1919

Frederick Albert BOSWORTH deserves our admiration as one of the longest serving and most decorated soldiers commemorated on the Rugby Memorial Gates.  He was already a member of the Territorial ‘Rugby Howitzer Battery’ before the war; and went to war with them and won the Military Medal and Bar, the French Medaille Militaire, and was Mentioned in Dispatches; he was wounded and gassed, and then volunteered for further service in Russia where he was killed in action in June 1919.  He became Rugby’s last ‘official’ Casualty on the War Memorial Gates.

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Frederick Albert BOSWORTH was born in about mid-1895 in Bitteswell.  He was the son of Frederick Bosworth [b.c.1866 in Lutterworth] and Mary Anne ‘Annie’, née Wright, Bosworth [b.c.1863 in Bitteswell], whose marriage was registered in Q4, 1894 in Leicester.  It was her second marriage.

In 1901, Frederick’s father, Frederick senior, was a ‘house painter.  The family were all living at Bitteswell.  As well as his and Annie’s three young children, there were the three older Wright step-sons aged 14, 11 and 9 from Annie’s previous marriage.

Before 1911, the family had moved to Rugby and Frederick Albert had attended the Murray School.  In 1911 they were living in a seven room house at 86 Bath Street, Rugby.  Frederick snr. was a ‘house painter’ for the builders – Messrs Linnell & Son.[1]  He had been married 17 years and they had four children.  Frederick Albert was now an ‘apprentice turner’ for a ‘mechanical engineers’, Willans and Robinson.  The other three younger children would have been at school.  Two of his wife’s Wright boys were also at home and working as a ‘fitter’ and an ‘apprentice fitter’ respectively also at a ‘mechanical engineers’ – probably also at Willans and Robinson.

Before the War, Frederick had been a member of the Territorial ‘Rugby Howitzer Battery’ – this was more properly named the 5th Warwickshire (Rugby) Howitzer Battery, 4th South Midland (Howitzer) Brigade.  From 1908 the Rugby Battery had been in temporary headquarters at the Willans and Robinson’s Engineering Works in Newbold Road, Rugby, so perhaps Frederick had seen them when he was an apprentice, and it may not be a surprise that he joined them.  In 1910, they moved to a new headquarters at 72 Victoria Avenue, Rugby, known locally as the Rowland Street Drill Hall.[2]

Whilst no Service Record survived, some details of Frederick’s service can be gleaned from his Medal Card and his CWGC entry.  Frederick was a gunner with the early number ‘233’, in the 5th Warwickshire (Rugby) Howitzer Battery.  His name and number are confirmed in the listings in the papers and diaries of its commanding officer, Col. Frank West.[3]

The Battery was the first territorial artillery unit to go to France, and they went from Southampton to Le Havre, France, on 30 March 1915.  The locations where the Battery served can be found on-line, in extracts from the Brigade Diaries.[4]  They served together until the artillery reorganisation in May 1916.

In May 1916 Brigades in the British Artillery were renumbered.  The 4th South Midland became 243 Brigade.  But its men were scattered.  The Howitzer Brigades in the British Field Artillery were split up, and their guns, officers, men and support staff redistributed to Brigades previously armed with 18 pounder guns.  … The 5th Howitzer Battery from the 4th South Midland Brigade was allocated to 241 Brigade (previously 2nd South Midland, Worcester) …[5]

During the re-organisation, Frederick was one of the men on the 5th Battery transfer list.  This listed the men of 243rd Brigade who were transferred to form the ‘D’ Howitzer battery of the 241st Brigade in May 1916.  The list included ‘No.233 Gnr. Bosworth, F.A.’[6]

During 1916, in a letter published, no doubt coincidentally, in the Rugby Advertiser on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, Frederick described some of his duties, and that he had been ‘Mentioned in Dispatches’.

Gunner F Bosworth, D Battery, 241st (S.M Brigade) R.F.A, an Old Murrayian, was mentioned in Sir Douglas Haig’s last despatch.  In a letter to his old schoolmaster, Mr W T Coles Hodges, he says:- “I am a telephonist in our Battery, and in this work we have many opportunities of taking part in some of the exciting incidents of this War, and it is in these little stunts that they have evidently thought me worth mentioning.”[7]

From the date of the article, his gallant actions must have been undertaken before 1 July 1916, although a later article mentioned the date as 21 July!  However, before August 1916, Frederick had been awarded a Military Medal for his actions, as reported in a long article in the Rugby Advertiser.  It was reported that he went ‘… out under heavy fire several times to repair the telephone wire in order to keep up communication with the battery’.  A later report stated that he had been ‘Repairing telephone lines and bringing in wounded under heavy shellfire.’ 

MILITARY MEDAL FOR A RUGBY HOWITZER MAN.
Battery Sergt-Major George Hopewell, of the Rugby Howitzer Battery, writing to Mr A Adnitt, as Hon. Secretary of the Rugby Territorials Comforts Association to thank him for parcels of comforts received, adds:-
“ You will be pleased to know that one of our boys, Gunner Bosworth, has been awarded the Military Medal for gallantry in the field on July 21st, going out under heavy fire several times to repair the telephone wire in order to keep up communication with the battery. He was also mentioned in Sir Douglas Haig’s despatch for distinguished conduct in the field.
“ We have been in the thick of the fighting since July 1st, but have been very fortunate as regards casualties, as we have had only five wounded – Corpl Hipwell, Bombardiers Smith and Rixom, and Gunners Seaton and Packwood.
“ I dare say you read in the papers about our Division, together with the Anzacs, taking one of the most important points along the front on July 23rd. They were congratulated by the Commander-in-Chief and the Corps Commander on their performance.”
Gunner Bosworth is the son of Mr G Bosworth, who formerly worked as a painter for Messrs Linnell & Son, but has now removed to Essex.  His grandfather resides at Lutterworth.
In a letter to his old schoolmaster, Gunner Bosworth, an Old Murrayian, says:- “On the morning of the ‘big push’ I was on duty at our observation station, and had occasion to go out on the line and repair breakages caused by the shelling.  The O.C. was good enough to bring the incident to the notice of the General, and I have since heard the good news of being granted the above medal.”

HIGH PRAISE FOR THE HOWITZER BRIGADE.
The following letter from the Brigadier Commanding the Artillery Division to the O.C’s of the Batteries and Ammunition Columns, will be of much local interest :—
“ Will you please convey to all ranks my appreciation of the excellent work performed by the batteries and D.A.C during the last five weeks.  The preparation of gun positions for the July offensive entailed continuous and very hard work on the batteries, but this labour was well repaid in the fewness of the casualties suffered at the guns.  The Division subsequently taking over reported that they were the best positions they had yet seen.
“ The continual night firing has been particularly trying, but the shooting was consistently good, which reflects great credit on all ranks, and the successes gained by the Infantry were, in the words of the Divisional Commander, largely due to the effective support rendered by the Artillery.  I hope during this week all ranks will be able to get the rest which they all deserve.[8]

Frederick’s Military Medal was ‘gazetted’ in August 1916,
War Office, 23rd August, 1916. His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to award the Military Medal for bravery in the field to the under-mentioned Non-commissioned Officers and Men: – 233 Gunner F. A. Bosworth, R.F.A.[9]

In the reorganisation of the artillery, Frederick received a new number 840058, and at some date, probably after his actions in 1916, been promoted to Bombardier.  On 16 April 1917, Frederick had been in action which resulted in him being awarded a Bar to his Military Medal, and he had written of his experiences to his old schoolmaster.  It was later reported that he had been ‘Maintaining communications under heavy shell fire’.

HOWITZER BATTERY MAN HONOURED.
Bombardier F Bosworth, the R.F.A, has written to his old schoolmaster, Mr W T Coles Hodges, informing him that he has been awarded a bar to his Military Medal for bravery on the night of April 16th.  Another bombardier was awarded the Military Medal for the same deed.  He adds that, having been mentioned in despatches and awarded the Military Medal and a bar to same, he so far carries the honours of the Battery.[10]

The second award was gazetted in July 1917.
His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of a Bar to the Military Medal to the under-mentioned Non-commissioned Officers and Men: –
840058 Bombr. F. A. Bosworth, R.F.A.  … (M.M.s gazetted 23rd August, 1916.)[11]

The same action also led to the award of the equivalent French decoration, the Medaille Militaire, which was reported in the Rugby Advertiser in June 1917, and was formally ‘gazetted’ in July 1917.

BOMBARDIER BOSWORTH AGAIN HONOURED.
Bombardier F Bosworth, of the Rugby Howitzer Battery, has been awarded the Medaille Militaire for the same action that gained for him the bar to his Military Medal.[12]

Medaille Militaire … 840058 Bombardier Frederick Bosworth, Royal Field Artillery.[13]

In August 1917 Frederick was severely wounded, and probably gassed, and it seems he was evacuated back to England for hospital treatment.  It seems that on 25 November 1917, the opportunity was taken to present him with his medals at Chatham.  The Rugby Advertiser reported in detail.

PRESENTATION TO A HOWITZER MAN.
On the occasion of the presentation of medals at Chatham on the 25th inst, Bombardier F A Bosworth R.F.A, was the recipient of medals.  The presentation was made by Colonel H R Adair, Commander Royal Artillery, Thames and Medway Garrison, who said: “The Royal Artillery has no colours.  Our colours are the proud traditions of our Regiment, to which we cling, and around which we rally, just as other Corps have rallied round their Banners.  It is men like Bombardier Bosworth who not only preserve these traditions, but, who, by their deeds, actually add to and ennoble them.  I am proud to stand here to-day representing His Majesty the King, who, you will remember is our Colonel-in-Chief, to present to Bombardier Bosworth, on his behalf, two medals, which he has gained by his own brave hands.  They are the Military Medal of England and the Military Medal of France.”
“ The records of the deeds for which he has won these read as follows:- Military Medal of England: “Repairing telephone lines and bringing in wounded under heavy shellfire.”  Bar to Military Medal of England and Military Medal of France: “Maintaining communications under heavy shell fire.”
“ These medals are a proud possession for himself and splendid heirlooms for his kindred to possess.  On behalf of our Country, our allies in France, our Regiment and its Colonel-In-Chief our King.  I shake hands with Bombardier Bosworth and wish him health and happiness and long life to wear his noble distinctions.”[14]

There do not appear to be any further details of his actions in the war, however, after the Armistice, hostilities continued in Russia until 1920, where there was still fighting in support of the ‘White Russians’ against the ‘Bolsheviks’. It seems that although he was still weak from his wounds and suffering from the effects of gas, it seems that Frederick ‘… was quite ready carry on in North Russia when the call came for help.’  He joined the 420th Battery, Royal Field Artillery, which served in Russia with the North Russian Expeditionary Force from September 1918 to July 1919.[15]

Frederick Bosworth was ‘killed in action’ on 30 June 1919.  He was buried in a local churchyard at Lumbushi Chyd, Russia.  His grave was marked by a wooden cross with his particulars, and also ‘RIP’ and ‘Killed in Action’.  ‘The grave was enclosed by a wooden fence about one foot high.’

It was intended that these isolated graves should be ‘concentrated’ and it was intended that his body would be exhumed and moved to the Murmansk New British Cemetery, where the graves could be more properly attended.  This was not permitted by the Russians.

His gravestone had already been prepared, and included the family inscription, ‘He Loved Honour More Than He Feared Death’.  It was placed instead as ‘Special Memorial ref: B. 4.’ on the wall of the Murmansk Cemetery.

Murmansk New British Cemetery was made in 1930.  The 40 burials were moved in from the Old British Cemetery that had been used by No 86 General Hospital in 1918-1919.  The special memorials commemorate officers and men known to have been buried in cemeteries elsewhere in the Murman area.  The cemetery now contains 83 burials and commemorations of the First World War.

In August 1919, the Rugby Advertiser wrote,
POPULAR RUGBY N.C.O.’s DEATH.
CORPORAL BOSWORTH KILLED IN RUSSIA.

Further details are to hand in regard to Corpl. Frederick Albert Bosworth, who, as announced in our last issue, was recently killed in action while serving with the R.F.A. with the North Russian Expeditionary Force.  Cpl. Bosworth was member the Rugby Howitzer Battery the time the war broke out, his home address being 86 Bath Street.  He remained with the local battery during its service in France until he was severely wounded in August, 1917.  For his services over there he was awarded the Military Medal, and later a bar, and the Medaille Militaire.  Although weak from his wounds and suffering from the effects of gas, Cpl. Bosworth was quite ready carry on in North Russia when the call came for help.  It was quite evident from letters received from his officers that Cpl. Bosworth did justice to his own reputation and to the good name of the battery.  The deceased corporal was at one time employed as an apprentice at Messrs. Willans and Robinson’s works, and was familiarly known to his many friends as ‘Sammy’.[16]

As well as his awards for gallantry, the Military Medal and Bar and the French, Medaille Militaire, Frederick Albert BOSWORTH was awarded the Victory and British medals and the 1914-1915 Star.  He is remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gate.

His father and mother moved to ‘Essex’ before 1916, and after the war their contact address for the CWGC was ‘Medveza-Gora’, Hemitage Road, Higham, Rochester.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Frederick Albert BOSWORTH was researched and written for a Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the Rugby Family History Group, October 2018.

[1]      The manager of the business, the son of its owner, William Henry LINNELL, died of wounds received in the German ‘Operation Mchael’ Offensive in 1918.  He died in hospital in Rouen on 8 April 1918 – see ‘Rugby Remembers’ for 8 April 2018, at https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2018/04/08/linnell-william-henry-died-8th-apr-1918/.

[2]      See https://sites.google.com/site/4thsouthmidlandbrigade/Home/dates-and-places-served-1, for the details of the Battery’s locations and postings.

[3]      https://sites.google.com/site/4thsouthmidlandbrigade/Home/5th-battery-list-1918.

[4]      https://sites.google.com/site/4thsouthmidlandbrigade/Home/dates-and-places-served-1.

[5]      https://sites.google.com/site/4thsouthmidlandbrigade/Home.

[6]      The list is in an Appendix to TNA ref: WO 95/2749, War Diary, 241 Brigade Royal Field Artillery, May 1916.

[7]      https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2016/06/30/1st-jul-1916-charge-against-an-enemy-alien-dismissed/, as transcribed from Rugby Advertiser, 1 July 1916.

[8]      https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2016/08/12/12th-aug-1916-down-with-diphtheria-but-not-depressed/, as transcribed from Rugby Advertiser, 12 August 1916.

[9]      The London Gazette, Supplement:29719, Page:8360, 22 August 1916, also, The Edinburgh Gazette, Issue:12976, Page:1490, 24 August 1916.

[10]     https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2017/06/06/2nd-jun-1917-cooking-demonstration-at-rugby/, as transcribed from Rugby Advertiser, 6 June 1917.

[11]     The London Gazette, Supplement 30172, Page 6824, 6 July 1917.

[12]     https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2017/06/16/16th-jun-1917-doctors-and-the-war-appeal-to-the-public/, as transcribed from Rugby Advertiser, 16 June 1917.

[13]     The Edinburgh Gazette, Issue 13114, Page 1369, 17 July 1917.

[14]     https://rugbyremembers.wordpress.com/2017/12/01/1st-dec-1917-presentation-to-a-howitzer-man/, as transcribed from Rugby Advertiser, 1 December 1917.

[15]     TNA ref: WO 95/5426, 420 Battery Royal Field Artillery, Russia, September 1918 – July 1919.

[16]     Rugby Advertiser, Friday, 8 August 1919.

 

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