Frederick John Chalkley

Name

Frederick John Chalkley
1887

Conflict

First World War

Date of Death / Age

24/01/1915
27

Rank, Service Number & Service Details

Private
L11850
(Duke of Cambridge’s Own) Middlesex Regiment
1st Bn.

Awards

1914 (Mons) Star, British War and Victory Medals

Cemetery/Memorial

RATION FARM MILITARY CEMETERY, LA CHAPELLE-D'ARMENTIERES
VIII. A. 25.
France

Headstone

>None

UK Memorials

Knebworth Village Memorial, Knebworth (old), St. Martin’s Church Memorial, Knebworth (New), St. Martin’s Church Roll of Honour, Knebworth (New), St. Martin’s Church Framed Memorial, Knebworth (New), Not on the Stevenage memorials

Pre War

Frederick was born on Valentines Day (14 February) 1887, the son of Henry & Adeline Chalkley of Mulberry Cottage, Old Knebworth. He was one of 10 children. Following a basic education he joined his father and worked as a Farm Labourer in the Stevenage area. Although he joined the Hertfordshire Militia, he soon left the farm and enlisted as a professional soldier.

Wartime Service

He had enlisted in the Middlesex Regiment on 8 April 1907, having previously served in the 4th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment (Herts Militia), and was given the Regimental Number L/11580. Following a period of being attached to the Regimental Depot, he joined the 2nd Battalion in July 1907 and served with them until January 1909, when he joined the 1st Battalion. Frederick saw service with the Regiment in Aden and the Middle East before returning to the UK, where his service time was extended.

Following the outbreak of the Great War, the Battalion were sent to France and Frederick arrived there on there on the 11 August 1914. He served with them continually throughout the early stages of the war and was described as honest, sober, hardworking, reliable, steady and intelligent. He had acted as a Regimental Policeman for 18 months and as a Battalion Cook for 9 months.

On the 2nd January, 1915, the 19th Infantry Brigade marched from Armentières, three miles south, to relieve the 16th Infantry Brigade in front-line trenches running between Touquet and Rue du Bois. The 1st Middlesex relieved a battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment, three Companies ("B", "C" and "D") in the front line, "A" Company in support. The relief was completed by 9.30 p.m.

Until the 18th of the month the 1st Battalion remained in the trenches, ekeing out an existence terrible in the extreme. On the 3rd January (the day following the relief of the Leicesters) the Battalion Diary records: "Still in trenches, which are very bad, full of mud and water up to the men's knees in many places. Raining all day." And for several days the same note of misery is contained in the Diary: "Still in trenches, weather terrible, mud and water dreadful... Working all day to try and keep the trenches standing. Rain causes dug-outs to fall in, and parapets to disappear. Fascines and sand-bags all sink into the mud... Raining hard again. Trenches very bad "-and so on! Relief came on the 18th, but only four days were spent out of the line.

On the 24 January 1914 Frederick was wounded whilst the Battalion were back in the frontline near Armentieres, and died of his injuries later that day. A note in his service record shows that he was originally buried in an unreported location but his body was recovered and reburied in the Ration Farm Military Cemetery, La Chapelle-D'armentieres.


Additional Information

CWGC shows incorrectly as 1580. The Herts at War project has raised the issue of his incorrect Regimental Number.

Acknowledgments

Paul Johnson