Frederick Ernest Rapson was born in the spring of 1888, one of nine children to Francis and Susan Rapson. Francis was a Serjeant in the 18th Hussars, and the family lived in Dulverton, a village on the edge of Exmoor.
Francis had served in the armed forces for 26 years, but passed away after a short illness in February 1891. According to a local friend and supporter, he had been in charge of the local yeomanry in Dulverton for a number of years and had been ‘in the prime and flower of life’. [West Somerset Free Press: Saturday 28th February 1891]
Susan was left widowed with nine children, the eldest of whom was only 13 years old. Frederick was only three at the time, and had lost his father at a very early age.
In 1895, Susan married a Frederick Howard, who was a painter and carpenter. The family moved to Taunton in Somerset, and Frederick and Susan went on to have three children of their own.
On 6th February 1910, Frederick Rapson married Lucy Knight; by this time, he was working as a compositor for the local newspaper. The couple set up home in the middle of Taunton, and went on to have three children, Francis, Frederick and Ronald.
War was coming, and, while Frederick did not actively seek military service in the same way as his father had done, it was not something he was able to avoid. While his full military records are not available, it’s clear that he enlisted in the Somerset Light Infantry at some point early on in the conflict.
Private Rapson was assigned to the 1st Battalion, who were based on the Western Front for the duration of the conflict. During his time there, he was awarded the Victory and British Medals, but not the 1915 Star, so that would narrow down his enlisting to some point in 1916.
While he was promoted to the role of Lance Serjeant, his service was to be a short one. At the start of 1917, he contracted pneumonia and was admitted to hospital. Sadly, the condition was to get the better of him, and he passed away on 3rd March 1917. He was just 27 years of age.
Frederick Ernest Rapson was buried in a quiet corner of St James’ Cemetery in Taunton, Somerset.