Saturday, September 06, 2014

G/1671 Sergeant Frederick William Yeomans DCM, 8th Royal Sussex Regt

Frederick William Yeomans was born in Chailey in 1894, his birth registered at the Lewes district in the June quarter of that year.  He appears on the 1901 census living at South Common with his parents and younger sister.  The household comprised: Alfred Yeomans (head, married, aged 34, working as a brick maker), his wife Elizabeth (aged 29) and their two children: Frederick (aged seven) and Florence (aged three).  Both Frederick’s parents and his sister were Chailey born.

The parish magazine first notes Frederick in its October 1914 edition, noting that he is serving his King and Country.  In October 1915 it reports that Lance-Corporal F Yeomans is serving with the 8th Royal Sussex Regiment in France.  In October 1916 it notes that he has been awarded the DCM.

His citation, published on page 10209 of The London Gazette (1916, volume IV) reads:

G1671 L/Cpl F W Yeoman, R Sussex R

For conspicuous gallantry in an attack, when, acting under orders of an officer, he organised a bombing party, and, with great courage and skill, bombed his way up a communication trench, facilitating the advance, and causing the surrender of about 160 of the enemy.
The London Gazette mis-spelt his name as Yeoman but in November 1916, in his parish notes, Reverend Jellicoe made no such mistakes:

Our list of officers and men will have an additional interest this month.  With “noble pride and not national swagger” as the Bishop of London recently put it, we publish under a special paragraph a list of distinctions.  The most recent of these is Lance-Corpl F Yeomans DCM.  I had the pleasure of seeing him quite recently, and after considerable difficulty, for he was very reluctant to say anything about the brave deed at all, I was able to write down at his dictation the following account: “I was among the second wave that advanced to consolidate a position.  We were held up by Germans in the dug-outs.  As soon as the first wave had advanced the Germans left their dug-outs to attack us.  I volunteered with three others to clear a number of the enemy from their trenches.  In the execution of this duty I was awarded the DCM.  We took thirty one prisoners, and when the rest of the platoon reached us a further 150 prisoners were captured.”

In February 1917 the parish magazine noted that Frederick has been promoted to corporal.  Two months later he was writing to his sister Florence from France:

Thanks so much for your most welcome letter just received, also [unclear] [unclear]. I was so pleased to hear that you are feeling better [unclear]; take great care of yourself. I am feeling quite fit. What rotten weather we are having; us have had rain, hail and snow; quite a selection[unclear]. I will write to [unclear] tomorrow. Good night dearest sis, fondest l;ove and heaps of x. I remain, for ever, your loving Bro, Fred xxx

April 16th 1917

The card was passed by the censor (stamped 1426) and there is a post office franking stamp dated 19th April 1917, presumably from England although no place name can be seen.

Nine pages of Frederick's pension records survive in WO 364 (and can be viewed on Ancestry). The key dates are these:
7th September 1914 - enlists at Lewes
12th August 1915 - embarks for France at Folkestone and posted to 8th Bn, Royal Sussex Regt
21st August 1915 - to No 12 Entrenching Bn at Etaples
2nd September 1915 - joins 8th Bn, Royal Sussex Regt in the Field
18th September 1916 - promoted corporal
20th October 1916 - awarded DCM
17th March 1917 - awarded Italian Bronze Medal for Military Valour
31st July 1917 - wounded in action and admitted to CCS with shrapnel wound, right leg
1st August 1917 - admitted 58th General Hospital, St Omer
2nd February 1918 - appointed Lance-Sergeant
27th February 1918 - appointed paid acting sergeant
22nd November 1918 - posted to 3rd Bn, Royal Sussex Regt
11th June 1919 - Discharged to Class Z Army Reserve

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