Fallen in July 1915:
Frederick Eames was born in Leverstock Green, Hertfordshire on Monday, 24th February 1896 and baptised two years later on Thursday, 12th March 1899. He was the youngest surviving son of Walter Eames and Rebecca Davis who lived at 9 Wood Lane End, close to the brickworks where Walter worked as a Brickmaker. Fred, as he was known, had two older siblings Caroline (Carrie) and Horace, however Walter and Rebecca had a total of nine children six of whom had died by the time of Fred’s birth.
He received his early education at Leverstock Green School entering in 1902 and leaving in 1909 aged thirteen to begin working.
By 1911 Fred was living with his family at 14 Adeyfield Terrace in Hemel Hempstead and aged fifteen he was working as a House Boy in a ‘Gentleman’s House’. This was the lowest ranked male domestic worker on the staff of a house and Fred would have been expected to work up to 16 hours per day, seven days per week. The duties were often among the most disagreeable in the house, such as emptying chamber pots for the higher-ranking servants, and (in the absence of a boot boy) cleaning the boots. For this work Fred would have earned between £8 and £10 per year (3 or 4 shillings per week) depending on the size of the house, the number of servants and his height, appearance and abilities. This was equivalent to approximately £700 today.
The whole family were in employment; his father with the local council and his sister Carrie and brother Horace with Dickinson & Co. at Apsley Mills. His mother had died in 1910 aged fifty-seven.
enlisted early in 1915 with the 1st Battalion Hampshire Regiment in
Guildford, Surrey. It is not clear why he attested in Guildford rather than
Hemel Hempstead but following his enlistment he underwent his basic training at
Fred was sent to France and disembarked at Le Havre on the 20th July 1915 and joined the Battalion just north of Beaumont-Hamel with 115 other men on 27th July. Two days later the Battalion relieved the French 62nd Infanterie in the trenches at Hamel.
The trenches are described as "extraordinarily comfortable, with huge dug-outs several feet below the earth". The war diaries also detail the fact that the Germans were very quiet and "hardly ever sniping". Indeed, the last two days of July were so quiet that some of the officers bathed in a swimming bath the French had constructed about one thousand yards from Battalion Headquarters in Hamel.
It was during these last two days of the month that Fred was fatally wounded although the cause and the exact date are unclear. What we do know is that he died of his wounds on Saturday, 31st July 1915 and that he was one of only three casualties recorded in the Battalion War Diaries on that day. Fred’s time at the Front had been tragically short and he died only four days after going into the trenches.
Before the War he had attended St Paul’s Parish Church in Hemel Hempstead and on Sunday 31st October 1915, an evening service was held to commemorate him and four other men who had fallen since May. Details of the service were reported in the next edition of the Hemel Gazette. (see extract)
Fred is Remembered with Honour at Hamel Military Cemetery, Beaumont-Hamel, Somme, France where he is interred in Grave I. D. 19. The inscription on his headstone requested by his father Walter reads:
“HE LAID DOWN HIS LIFE FOR HIS FRIENDS”
He was also commemorated on a plaque erected in Leverstock Green School.
Fred was only 19 years old when he died.
He was eligible for the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Allied Visctory Medal.
Hampshire Regiment Cap Badge WW1
Extract from The Hertfordshire, Hemel Hempstead Gazette and West Herts Advertiser, 6th Nov. 1915
Beaumont-Hamel Cemetery, Somme, France (CWGC)
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