Fred Saunders is one of the men named on the Bottesford ‘church list’ of WW1 Servicemen.
Fred (Frederick) Saunders was born in Preston Lancashire in 1892/3, according to the 1901 census. It is possible that he was christened on the 4th October 1892, in Liverpool (England Select births and Christenings 1538 – 1975).
His father, also named Frederick Saunders, was born in Bridgewater, Somerset, in 1855. In 1861, he and his younger brother Edward lived at Gurney Street, Cannington, Bridgewater, with their mother Mary Ann Pulsford, her husband William Pulsford, and a baby half-brother also named William Pulsford. By 1881, Frederick had joined the navy, and had become an Able Seaman, based at Portsea. In 1891, he was a Sergeant in the Royal Marines. He got married in that year to Ellen Shorney, who was born in 1862 in Bridgewater, Somerset. They lived with their two young daughters, Alice and Rose, on Oxford Street, Preston. By the time of the 1901 census, Frederick had left the navy, and they had moved to 53 Cecil St., New Somerby, Grantham. He had taken up work as a ‘church verger’. In addition to the two girls, there was now an eight year old son named Frederick after this father.
In 1904, when he was aged 11, Frederick junior entered the Grantham Industrial and Fine Art exhibition, and his entry, one of 29, was commended. At the time, he was attending St. Anne’s School, Grantham (Grantham Journal, Saturday 23rd January, 1904). Another record from the Grantham Journal is that in October 1905 he was one of eight of boys up in front of the magistrates and accused of disorderly conduct in Bridge End Road, Grantham, at 6.25 p.m. on the 11th October. Aged between 10 and 14, they were accused of shouting, swearing and letting fireworks off on the footpath. The boys’ mothers attended court and were unanimous that “My boy didn’t swear”: the boys were let off with a caution from the bench (Grantham Journal, Friday 27th October, 1905).
By 1911, the family had moved to 232 Harrowby Road, Grantham. Fred’s father’s occupation at this time was given as ‘Naval Pensioner and Labourer in an Engineering firm’. His sister Rose had married Harry Tinkler, another of the men from Bottesford who served in WW1. On the night of the census, Rose was staying with her parents with her baby Ethel Tinkler. Fred’s other sister Alice had married a man named Turner. They had two seven year old sons who were also staying with their grand-parents. Frederick junior had left home by now, but his whereabouts at this time have not been discovered
It appears that the family moved from Grantham to Bottesford around 1911 (Grantham Journal, Saturday 8th March, 1921), implying that this is where Frederick junior was living when he enlisted.
To date it has been impossible to definitively identify the military record of this Fred Saunders with any certainty. For instance, from the Medal Index Cards we can deduce that there were some 229 Frederick Saunders and 38 Fred Saunders in the allied forces.
Given that Fred had lived in Grantham, it is possible that he served in the Lincolnshire regiment. However, given his Father’s service in the Royal Marines and his family connections to Somerset, it is possible that he served in the Marines or in a West Country regiment.
The following men named Fred Saunders are possible matches, but none can be confirmed.
Private Frederick Saunders, Private 235087 Lincolnshire Regiment, enlisted 9th March 1915, discharged 26 the April 1918 with wounds, Silver War Badge 402757.
Private Frederick Saunders, Private 43467 Lincolnshire Regiment, then 634862 Labour Corps, awarded the Victory and British War Medals
Private Frederick Saunders, 70091 Notts and Derby Regiment (Sherwood Foresters), enlisted 19th February 1916, discharged 3rd July 1917, Silver War Badge 205208, awarded the Victory and British War Medals
Private Frederick Saunders, 60359 King’s Liverpool Regiment, enlisted 13the June 1910, discharged 12th November 1918, Silver War Badge B44955, no medal details.
Private Frederick Saunders, 28652 Somerset Light Infantry, then 34137 Wiltshire Regiment, awarded the Victory and British War Medals
Life after the War
There is an obituary regarding Fred’s mother Ellen, recorded in the Grantham Journal in 1921. It describes Fred’s father Frederick as Sergeant F. Saunders (late royal Marines). It stated that the family came to live in Bottesford some 12 years previously, prior to which they lived at Harrowby Road, Grantham. In the obituary, no mention is made of their son Fred (Grantham Journal, Saturday 8th March, 1921).
Fred’s father died in 1939, aged 84, and was buried on the 20th September, at Bottesford. His obituary, published by the Grantham Journal (23rd September, 1939), stated that he had resided at The Nook, Bottesford. It adds that one of his mourners was Mr. F. Saunders (son). This confirms that Fred junior survived the war, but the date and place of his death have not been discovered.