FREDERICK STEPHEN FIELDER

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

F.S. Fielder

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.

Cap badge of the Border Regiment

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. His brother Edward Cecil died three weeks after him.

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

Pam Griffiths