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From the Cater Museum's Archives

Private Frederick Vere

(32019 - 1st Battalion, The Essex Regiment)
Frederick Vere was born in Walthamstow on the 28th March 1897 the only child of Walter Vere and Esther Wheeler. When Frederick was 14 years old the family moved to Ramsden Bellhouse. Six years later and three years after the start of the First World War Frederick started his first overseas service in France. Three short months later, on the 14th April 1917, he was listed as Missing following the Battle of Monchy-le-Preux. His family was informed he was missing on the 10th May and on the 26th June confirmation came from Germany, via the Red Cross, that Frederick had been captured, taken prisoner and sent to Limburg Prisoner of War camp. After his capture, but before his family were notified, he wrote a letter home detailing his injuries, requesting food and asking for a list of 1st Essex casualties. Frederick then spent twenty long months in Limburg, one of the largest Prisoner of War camps, designed to hold up to 12,000 prisoners. He was eventually released on the 2nd December 1918 and arrived back in England three days later.

After the war, in 1920, Frederick founded a longlasting hairdressing business that operated from 28 High Street, Billericay. In June 1932 he married Sophia (or Sophie) Jensen, to whom he had written to while in Limburg.

The Battle of Monchy-le-Preux

The battle took place during the Arras offensive and the objective for The Royal Newfoundland Regiment and the 1st Essex was to capture the strategic ‘Infantry Hill’. After an ineffective Allied artillery bombardment, starting at 5.30am, the German counter attack led to heavy Allied casualties. By 9am the Allied survivors were forced to surrender. Word of this got back to the commander of The Royal Newfoundland Regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel James Forbes-Robertson, who led 20 men through the streets collecting ammunition and weapons. Forbes-Robertson and eight remaining men, joined later by a ninth, established themselves in a small ditch and opened fire on the approaching Germans. They held this position for a remarkable 11 hours until they were relieved. Forbes-Robertson was later awarded a Victoria Cross for his actions during the Battle of Estaires.

Katie Wilkes