69749: Fredrick William Blewitt
Born 6-12-1881 in Lichfield Staffs 12-4-1915 enlisted in the R.A.S.C. at Lichfield. Joined the 6th Battalion The North Staffordshire Regiment A company Army Service Corps,(RASC). He undertook training near Derby before proceeded to France landing at Boulogne in August 1915 as part of the Sherwood Foresters Brigade. They moved to Bomy beginning a period of intensive training for the Battles of the Somme. These inexperienced troops joined those who had battle experience in the front line trenches and had to learn from them very quickly. July 1916 They were in action in The Battle of Albert. British attacked south of the road between the villages of Albert and Bapaume, the road was eventually captured on 4 July, Bernafay and Caterpillar woods were occupied from 3-4 July and then fighting to capture Trônes Wood, Mametz Wood and Contalmaison took place until early on 14 July, when the Battle of Bazentin Ridge (14-17 July) began. During this period in 1916 the German's started gas attacks on the British troops. It may be at this time Fredrick was subject to a gas attack which permanently damaged his lungs. 31-8-1916 he was transferred to the Labour Corps. Many injured but serviceable soldiers transferred to labour corps to help with logistics and transport of supplies and ammunition to the front line using horse drawn carts. Fredrick would have been ideal for this role as he had traded and worked with horses on farms around his town of Lichfield Staffordshire before the war. 7-3-1918 moved to the Labour Base Unit Deport in Belgium. 11.11.1918 Ended the war at Bermissart west of Mons, Belgium. February 1919 moved to reserve army returning to England for Demobilisation. 3-6-1919 re-enlisted in the Labour Corps (due to lack of work in England) . 8-8-1919 returned to France to help with post war clear up. 30-1-1920 Sent to the 58th Casualty Clearing Station ( Lillers area?)with lung problems. 31-1-1920 returned to England to the 1st City of London General Hospital for observation. 18-2-20 Discharged as Physically Unfit from the army. Fredrick managed to bring back 2 canon shells engraved with the name of the village of Albert. German prisoners of war enbossed them with Alpine style scenes presumably views from where the they had lived. The prisoners would swap this type of trench art for additional food or cigarettes. After the war he moved to the village of Fradley Staffordshire with his wife Caroline and lived in a thatched cottage for many years. Here is where he brought up his family including my father Joseph Charles Blewitt who became an Oxford Councillor and Lord Mayor of Oxford. Fredrick like many ex soldiers came back to a country that had moved on dramatically socially. Very little work for unskilled men and women taking factory jobs meant he had to take any casual and low paid work that he could manage especially with his damaged lungs. His previous knowledge of horses allowed him to deal and trade at the horse auctions. Unfortunately he also had a habit of spending the profits in the public houses on the way home. This would earn him a beating by his diminutive wife when he staggered home. Caroline took in washing and worked occasionally for a well off families near by. There were no hand outs or benefits in those days. Fredrick passed away in hospital on 9-12-1960 aged 79.