CWG: Able Seaman Frederick Upson

Able Seaman Frederick Upson

Frederick Frank Upson was born in Woodbridge, Suffolk, on 4th June 1897 and was one of eight children to Frederick and Mary Upson. Frederick Sr was an agricultural labourer and horseman, and when he left school, his soon took on a shepherding role on the same farm.

With the war raging, and the port of Ipswich not far from home, Frederick Jr seemed destined for a life at sea. In June 1915, having turned 18 years old, he enlisted in the Royal Navy as an Ordinary Seaman. His service records show that he stood 5ft 6.5ins (1.69m) tall, had brown hair, grey eyes and a fair complexion.

Frederick’s first posting was at HMS Vivid, the training base at Devonport, Devon. He spent a couple of months there, before being given his first ocean-going assignment on board the scout cruiser HMS Blonde. Ordinary Seaman Upson was on board for just over a year, and was promoted to Able Seamen during his time there.

In January 1917, he returned to shore, and was transferred to HMS Pembroke, the shore-based establishment at the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent. The base was particularly busy that year, and temporary accommodation was set up in the Drill Hall; Frederick found himself billeted there for the summer.

On the 3rd September 1917, the German Air Force carried out one of its first night-time air raids on England: Chatham was heavily bombed and the Drill Hall received a direct hit. Able Seaman Upson was badly injured and died of his wounds in hospital the following day. He was just 20 years of age.

Frederick Frank Upson was laid to rest, along with the other victims of the Chatham Air Raid, in the Woodlands Cemetery, Gillingham.


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