Lance Corporal, 20999, 2nd Battalion, Border Regiment
(previously Private, 13243, 3rd Battalion, Bedford Regiment)
Killed in Action, Somme, France, 27 June 1916, aged about 24
Commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Pier and Face 6A and 7C

Frederick Fielder
(Click to enlarge)

Frederick Stephen Fielder was the son of Ann (née Hooker) and William Fielder, both Kent born, as was he. The census returns give his place of birth as Wrotham, but when he joined the army he said he was born at Plaxtol. However, as Plaxtol is in the parish of Wrotham, this makes perfect sense. His birth was registered in 1892 and he was the second of 10 children. His father started out as a farm worker but by 1911 was a farm bailiff and had moved his family from Old Soar Cottages at Plaxtol to Springfield Cottages at Shipbourne near Tonbridge. At this time, Frederick and his brother Sidney were both employed in paper-making.

By the time Frederick enlisted — at Battersea on 1 September 1914 — his parents were living at 8 Bolebrook Cottages, Perry Hill in Hartfield, and he was working as a porter for Elders & Fyffes. This was a London shipping firm subsidiary to Elder Dempster, and not surprisingly, they imported bananas. His attestation shows that he hadn't lived outside the family home for three years, and that he had no prison record when he joined up. He gave his age as 22 years and 241 days.

A description on enlistment declares him to have been 5' 6½" and 132 lbs, with light brown hair, blue eyes and a clear complexion. He had an identifying scar on the second finger of his left hand. His physical development was considered good and his vision 6/6. He gave his religion as C of E.

The cap badge of the Border Regiment
(Click to enlarge)

He served first with the Bedford Regiment until he was transferred to the Border Regiment on 1 January 1916. In the interim, he was sent home after initial enlistment, but sent to France on 11 March 1915 and served 46 days there. On 26 April 1915 he was sent home again following a gunshot wound in his arm and hand. On 1 January 1916 he returned to France with his new regiment, presumably recovered, and on 29 February he was promoted to Lance Corporal (unpaid). Presumably the offence recorded on 27 September 1915 of 'stating a falsehood to an NCO' for which he was disciplined was not held against him.

He was killed in action on 27 June 1916, just a few days before the onset of the Battle of the Somme. His mother and Mary Blackman seem to have been the legatees for his war gratuity. It is not clear whether she was a relative or a sweetheart. Frederick was unmarried at the time of his death.

The Kent Messenger reported his death on 29 July 1916 as follows, inaccurately placing him in the 2nd Bedfordshire rather than the 2nd Border Regiment at the time of his death:

Lance-Corpl. F. S. Fielder
2nd Border Regiment.

Lance Corporal F. S. Fielder, age 24, eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. William Fielder of Perry Hill, Hartfield, a nephew to Mr. Arthur Fielder, the famous Kent bowler, was killed in action on 27th June. On war breaking out he joined the 3rd Bedfordshire Regiment, and was wounded on Hill 60. On returning to duty he was transferred to the 2nd Bedfordshire [sic] Regiment, and went out to France again some months ago. There he was made a sniper. Previous to joining the Army he was engaged by the shipping firm and [sic] Elder and Fife [sic], London. Three of his brothers are in the firing line, Sidney, John and Cecil, John being wounded in the great advance on July 1st. Deceased was also a nephew of Mr. and Mrs. Trowell, Roughway.

According to the War Forces Records, his death was also reported in the Cumberland News, presumably because the Border Regiments originated in Cumberland and Westmorland.

Frederick's brother Edward Cecil died three weeks after him. Another brother, Sidney, was seriously wounded in 1917 and had an arm amputated as a result. The Chronicle and Courier, reporting on 12 October 1917, wrote:

Pte Sidney Fielder...was wounded in the shoulder and left leg on August 20th and was admitted to no 20 General Hospital Dannes Camiers...Much sympathy is felt for the family, as already two sons, Fred and Cecil, have been killed.

Frederick Stephen Fielder is commemorated on the Plaxtol and Hartfield War Memorials.

Pam Griffiths