Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Frederick Neale - thoroughly trustworthy

The Sergeant F Neal noted by Chailey Parish magazine between October 1916 and December 1917 is Sergeant Frederick Neale, a regular soldier who first joined the army in 1901 and served continuously for the next twenty one years. His record is remarkable both from the point of view that all his soldiering was conducted in Britain and also that during that time he incurred no entries on his regimental conduct sheet. On his discharge from the army in 1922, his character testimonial would state:

“This is to certify that the above named soldier is thoroughly trustworthy and very hardworking. He has exercised a good influence in the Battalion. He has been employed as Sergeant Master Tailor and he has carried out his work most efficiently. He gained a 2nd Class Certificate of Education on 30th July 1912. Previous to enlistment he was a Tailor by profession.”

Frederick Neale enlisted with the Army Service Corps at Eastbourne on 21st August 1901 for a period of three years with the Colours and nine on the Reserve. He was 19 years and eleven months old and gave his place of birth as Fletching, Sussex. At the time of his enlistment he was a serving member with the 1st Cinque Ports Rifle Volunteers (a unit which would later become the 5th Cinque Ports Territorial Force Battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment). Frederick had previously tried to enlist in the regular army (date unknown) but had been rejected because he was underweight. Now though, he was passed fit. He was five feet five inches tall, weighed 115lbs, had a fair complexion and light brown eyes and hair. He was given the service number T/18417.

He received his first Good Conduct Pay at the rate of one shilling per day on 21st August 1903 and on 25th July 1904, extended his service to complete eight years with the colours. He was also granted Service Pay Class One at the rate of sixpence per day from that date. On 21st August 1906 he was granted his second good conduct badge and his service pay was increased to seven pence per day. Eight months later, on 24th April 1907, Frederick again extended his service to complete 12 years with the Colours. On 2nd January 1913, having served eleven years and five months with the Army Service Corps as a private, Frederick transferred to the 1st Royal Warwickshire Regiment where he was given the number 2259. Eight days later he was appointed Sergeant Tailor. On 13th August 1913, Frederick again extended his service, this time to complete 21 years in His Majesty’s Army.

Shortly after the First World War was declared, Frederick was posted to the regimental depot where he remained for almost the entire war. He spent one month with the 3rd Battalion in 1918 but towards the end of June that year was posted back to the depot. Only after the war had ended was he posted back to the regular battalions: to the 2nd on 11th April 1919; the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion on 3rd June 1919 and then finally the 1st Battalion on 15th July 1919. He was finally discharged from the army on 20th August 1922.

Although he received no campaign medals, Frederick Neale was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal in March 1920 and also received a £5 gratuity along with this. During his time soldiering, Frederick had found time for some personal life. His next of kin was initially recorded as his father, James Neale, of Fletching; but on 2nd March 1910 he had married Mable Murphy at the parish church in Fletching. The couple had three children – Mabel Esther Neale (born in July 1912 at Portsmouth), Kathleen Neale (born May 1914 at Shorncliffe) and a third child (name unclear on Frederick’s surviving papers) who was born in February 1916 at Lewes. Sadly, Kathleen died in infancy in April 1915).

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