Due to his membership of St John Ambulance Brigade before the war, Fred was able to volunteer for medical service in the RAMC. He first saw active service in France on 10th April 1915. He went to the trenches, where he was exposed to gas, which affected his lungs and in later life he suffered badly with bronchitis and asthma. He was sent back to England to recover at what appears to be a converted conservatory of a large house. He then spent some time aboard HMHS Letitia, and on one journey he was looking after 6 Nursing Sisters, who had contracted syphilis. There are photos of Fred with his pals from Letitia on quieter moments dressed in fancy dress and bathing in a harbour. (Letitia was handed over to the Canadian medical services in 1917.) In 1917, Fred was transferred to the 9th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regt. and was sent to India on board RMS Llanstephan Castle. The Warwicks were fighting in Mesopotamia and Fred must have had a medical role for their wounded, who were sent to India, before coming back to Britain. There is a postcard from his Pal, Arthur Mawman in 9th Warwicks, sent from Belgaum to Fred in Poona, India in April 1918. The Warwicks had a Depot in Belgaum, and there was a hospital in Poona, where several members of the 9th Warwicks are buried. Fred rose to the rank of Sergeant, and later became a PT instructor. He was demobilized on 20th March 1919. On one occasion, while Fred was on a ship when somebody called “Bones!” Fred’s brother Jack, was nearby on another medical ship. When both brothers responded to the call they spotted each other and were able to exchange brief greetings while the ships were nearby. This could have been while Jack was on HMHS Britannic and Fred on HMHS Letitia? Jack was with the RAMC in Suez for a while, so they could have met here, if Fred was accompanying wounded on a hospital ship from Mesopitamia? Fred told of going to Cape Town (probably on the way to India) and Naples (which was very smelly), so he must have travelled both ways around Africa. After the war, Fred found work at Rohampton Hospital, which specialised in helping the many amputees. He became an ARP Warden, along with his wife Lily, during World War Two.
Frederick and Jack had another brother, ‘Norman’. Norman didn't become old enough for conscription until January 1918, when the tribunal system was well in force. He was trained in the Army Reserves as a non-combatant, then went to France on 11th June, but spent the next month sick at the base in Etaples, Pas de Calais, with either measles or flu. Norman was finally transferred to the Queens West Surrey Regt. from the East Surrey Regt. on 12th July and went to the Somme region serving as a Stretcher-Brearer. He was only in the front lines for about a month before being wounded in action on 24th August. After recovering from his wounds Norman was transferred to the Army Reserve on 15th February. His medical states that "Wound healed, full movement in all joints." "The board find that the soldier has suffered no impairment in heath since his entry into the services." However, he was suffering from 'Pthesis' or Tuberculosis and died on 19th June, just four months later. There is an entry in his medical records for 'making a claim for Pthesis' on 28th May when his condition must have been deteriorating, so the military authorities did eventually accept responsibility for his medical care. He died at his parents home, Holly Hill in Faversham after "fourteen weeks of patient suffering." His father, Fred, attached the bullet that had been removed from Norman's leg to a watch chain and wore it in his breast pocket.
[Special thanks to Andrew Belsey for all the information and photographs]