Frederick John Maple was born in 1896, the middle of three children to Royal Engineers Company Serjeant Major Frederick Maple and his wife Amelia. Frederick Jr was born in Brompton, Gillingham, Kent, but it’s interesting to note that the 1901 census gives Amelia’s place of birth as Canada, while Frederick Sr’s is not known.
Frederick Jr lost his father in 1904, and his mother five years later. At the age of just 13, he was an orphan, and this may have spurred him into finding a career. The next census – taken in 1911 – lists him as a Bugler in the Royal Engineers, barracked within walking distance of where he had grown up.
By the time war had broken out – and having come of age – the now Private Maple was assigned to the 15th Field Company. The regiment fought in a number of the key skirmishes of the war, including the Battles of Neuve Chapelle, the Somme, Loos, Ypres and Arras. Frederick went to France in March 1915, although it is not possible to confirm how or if he was involved in these battles. He was awarded the Victory and British Medals and the 1915 Star for his efforts.
Sadly, the next available document for Frederick is the Army Register of Soldiers’ Effects. This confirms that he was admitted to the 2nd London General Hospital in Chelsea, and that he passed away on 29th October 1918. Again, there is no evidence of the cause of his passing, so he may have fallen ill, or been wounded. Either way, Private Maple was just 22 years old when he died.
Frederick John Maple was laid to rest in the Grange Road Cemetery in Gillingham. When this was subsequently turned into a public park, he was commemorated in the neighbouring Woodlands Cemetery.