5 Jul 2010

READ Frederick


Driver 56776, 82nd Battery, Royal Field Artillery
Died on Saturday 30th September 1916
Commemorated on Basra Memorial, Iraq, Panel 3 and 60

Frederick Read's name does not appear on Lancing war memorial, and he is included here as one of the sons of a large family living in Lancing during the war. Trying to identify that family and their roots proved difficult at first, the surname being a common one, but slowly the pieces came together. Frederick was born in 1892 in Edmondsham, Dorset, the son of George and Fanny Read. Both parents were from Dorset, and in 1891 the family were in Edmondsham where George worked as a sawyer and by 1901 they had moved a little farther south to Canford Magna.

Fred was a regular soldier and had enlisted into the Royal Artillery at Fort Purbrook, Hampshire some years before the Great War. The 1911 census shows him as a driver with 82nd Battery, Royal Field Artillery, in Kirkee India. As part of 10th Brigade, the unit were still in India at the outbreak of war, and the war diary held at The National Archives [WO95/5117] shows that they received orders to mobilise on September 9th 1914, and they left Bombay on 8th November 1914 on the S.S. Torilla, as part of 6th [Poona] Division, disembarking at Saihan eight days later. On the 12th August 1916 the Sussex Daily News carried the following story about the Read brothers military service:

FIVE SOLDIER SONS - LANCING - Five sons of Mr. and Mrs. G. Read of New Salts Farm Cottages are serving their country. They are:
Cpl. E. G. Read - Royal Sussex Regiment

L/Cpl. A. S. Read - Royal Munster Fusiliers

L/Cpl. W. H. Read - Royal Sussex Regiment

Driver F. Read - Royal Field Artillery

Private S. H. Read

Driver F. Read R.F.A., was at Kut and was taken prisoner when the Turks captured the British Garrison there. L/Cpl. W. H. Read, Royal Sussex Regiment, who was gassed and wounded on the Western Front, has just completed his ten days leave after recovering from his injuries. L/Cpl. A. S. Read, Royal Munster Fusiliers, who was wounded at the Dardanelles in 1915, has still no any use in one of his arms and is now in Ireland. Cpl. E. G. Read, Royal Sussex Regiment, is still in France, and beyond one spell of illness has come through alright so far. Private S. H. Read, the youngest, had served about a year in the forces when he was invalided out. He has, however, managed to pass for service again, although it is not quite certain in what Regiment he will be serving.

During the siege of Kut many men died as disease ran riot through the garrison, and decimated the ranks of men already weakened by starvation. Following the surrender, the situation did not improve. The weakened men were force marched, beaten, tortured and executed by the Turks, most of them dying either in prison camps in Asiatic Turkey, or on the journey there. 6th Division 'died a prisoner' with the death of 1,700 other ranks out of a total of just over 2,500, and the Indian dead of the Division numbered more than 2,500. It was more than two years before the few survivors were freed. It is poignant that Fred Read's name was still included in the Absent Voter's list of October 1918 - presumably his family still held out hope for his safe return. The officers who were captured fared much better than their men, among them another Lancing man, Basil Peel, son of Edmund Peel, vicar of Lancing. Basil Peel was a staff officer to General Townshend, much decorated, and finally repatriated in December 1918.

Fred Read is recorded as having died of illness or disease on September 30th, 1916, probably in a prison camp in Anatolia. It is known that the bodies of other men of his Battery who died at around the same time were exhumed after the war and re-interred at Baghdad (North Gate) Cemetery, but Fred has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Basra Memorial to the Missing, which commemorates more than 40,000 men of the Commonwealth forces who died in Mesopotamia between 1914 and 1921 and who have no known grave.

The other Read brothers who are named above were:
Edwin George Read, Albert Read, Sidney Herbert Read and Walter Henry Read.


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