Frederick Bend was baptised in Bottesford on the 30th July 1916, son of Frederick Richard (a railway clerk) and Ellen Kate, of Easthorpe.
His father was born in the summer of 1885 at Bottesford, son of John Duffin Bend and Harriett Reynolds Bend. Frederick Richard married Ellen Kate Marshall in May 1910, their banns read on the 15th May in Bottesford, and they set up home at 7 Easthorpe Rd. in the 1911 census, where they still were in 1939. He was a choristor and an enthusiastic singer, performing in village Gilbert & Sullivan productions as Strephon in Iolanthe (1925) and the Pirate King in Pirates of Penzance (1926): young Frederick Kenneth inherited his talent and had a child’s part in the 1929 production of The Mikado, appearing in the cast photograph seated at the front holding the ceremonial sword. Ellen Kate Bend died in August 1955, aged 69: Frederick Richard Bend died on the 1st January 1958, aged 72. They are buried in Bottesford churchyard.
Regrettably we have few details of Frederick Bend’s wartime service. He was Trooper 326530, ‘A’ Squadron, The Nottingham Yeomanry, otherwise known as the Sherwood Rangers. In 1941 they became part of the Royal Armoured Corps as one of the six squadrons of the Royal Yeomanry. This regiment had been in Palestine at the start of the Second World War, then in 1940 took part in the defence of both Tobruk and Benghazi as well as the battle of Crete. In 1941, the Regiment was equipped with tanks and was assigned to the 8th Armoured Brigade. It served in most of the major battles of the Eighth Army in the North Africa campaign, including El Alamein, where Trooper Frederick K. Bend was killed.
The account in Wikipedia describes the North African Campaign as a fluctuating series of battles for control of Libya and regions of Egypt, reaching a climax in the Second Battle of El Alamein in October 1942 when Commonwealth forces commanded by Lieutenant-General Montgomery inflicted a decisive defeat on Rommel’s Afrika Korps and forced its remnants into Tunisia. The Allies eventually encircled several hundred thousand German and Italian personnel in northern Tunisia and finally forced their surrender in May 1943.
Sadly, Fred Bend did not survive to witness their victory. He is buried in El Alamein War Cemetery, Egypt – details can be found in the Common War Graves website. The pictures shown here were kindly contributed by Mr David Bend of Grantham, havinf been taken by a friend of his.
Memories of Fred Bend
The following memories are reproduced from Herbert Daybell’s post added to this website in 2020:
War’s pain never went away: remembering troopers Harry Richmond Daybell and Frederic Kenneth Bend 2nd World War service:
“I’d heard my father talk of Fred Bend as one of the village colleagues who had been killed in action and didn’t make it back. Fred had been the only son of Mr and Mrs Bend from Easthorpe. Whenever any of the older village people spoke of Fred, they always said how good looking he was. I remember Edna Taylor describing him once as having film star good looks.
One day a local man came to the door and explained to my father that he was the executor for Mrs Bend, Fred’s mother who had recently died. He had with him a cardboard shoebox of old photographs taken during the war. He had known that my father and Fred had been together in the yeomanry and thought he might like to keep the photos as there were no other members of the Bend family left.
As a child I was really excited to have the novelty of sorting through the shoebox and seeing something of foreign countries and tanks in action. As we began to spread the treasures out on the kitchen table it soon emerged that, naturally, Fred was the main subject of most of the photographs but as we delved on those where my father also appeared, had his face scribbled out in pencil.
Even I was shocked. My father remained silent. Why, I asked him, had his face been blotted out in this way? There was a long pause, and I knew there was no point in asking the question again, I just had to wait. Eventually, he said that Mrs Bend must have done it in despair at knowing that her son would never return whilst, purely by fate, another village son lived on.
That night my father took photographs and the box of letters he had sent back to his mother whenever it had been possible whilst he was stationed abroad, slowly read through them and then one by one threw them on the fire. I knew no one would ever be able to piece together what had happened in those far off places in later years as far as our family was concerned, but I also knew there was no point trying to dissuade him.”