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Imperial War Museum War Partnership logoFirst World War - On this day...... 6th August 1917

 

Remembering the men from the Kingsdown and Creekside Cluster
who gave their lives in the First World War

On the centenary of their death, we remember

Frederick George Champ (of Teynham)
b. 27th April, 1884
d. 6th August 1917. Aged 34


Lance Corporal, 766148
"A" Company, 19th Battalion
Canadian Infantry
(Central Ontario Regiment)
Remembered with Honour
Fosse No.10 Communal Cemetery Extension, Sains-En-Gohelle
Plot 2,Row B, Grave 32

Killed in Action

Sains en Gohelle Cemetery


Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) makes the home connection "Brother of Mrs. Ethel Rose Cook. of 27, Frognal Lane, Teynham, Sittingbourne, Kent, England. Native of Teynham." She paid for the inscription: "Memory for ever will cling".

Frederick's medical records declare an "apparent age" of 31 years, 6 months on attestation (16th November 1915). He stood at 5ft 8¾ inches, chest measurement of 39 inches and expansion of 3 inches. His complexion was described a medium, his eyes were blue and hair was brown. For identification purposes, we learn he had a birthmark on his right side and small mole on left of abdomen. His overall physical development was "good". Indeed, his medical record has no entries for illness nor injury throughout his military career.

Frederick is one of the "Teynham Pals" who chose to emigrate to find an improved livelihood and opportunity. His military records reveal that he lived at 105 Ford Street West, Toronto, Canada. He was employed as a "car repairer". He first landed in New York aboard the "Saint Louis" in 1907, aged 22, and progressed from there to live in Canada.

Having left England, Frederick named his sister, Ethel, as his sole beneficiary in his Form of Will dated 21st September 1916. He declares he is her legal guardian although she was living with their brother William at 27 Frognal Lane, Teynham. This does suggest that he was concerned with her welfare but the reason is not clear? Without the support of her brothers, was there a chance she would have fetched up on the local workhouse? The pension in 1917 is shown as £192 per year, but it is not clear how long this sum was good for.

He was awarded the Victory and British War Medal.

Experience of War

We learn from The Faversham and North East Kent News of 1st September 1917: "The death is reported of a former Teynham man, who was serving in the Canadian Forces, namely, Lance Corporal, Frederick George Champ, residing in Frognal Lane, Teynham. It appears he was killed by a stray enemy shell on August 6th while in charge of a carrying party some distance behind the front line. An officer in a letter to miss Champ, says the deceased "was most popular with all officers and men, and was down for further promotion as soon as a vacancy occurred. He had proved himself a keen soldier whom we could rely on with absolute confidence in any emergency." Lance-Corporal Champ went out to Canada about ten years ago. He was 33 years of age. A younger brother, William, is serving with the Royal Fusiliers in France."

Canadian records tell us that Frederick attested at Toronto on 16th November 1915 and was finally approved on 4th December 1915 and went into training.

Once mobilised, he experienced several changes in units and ranks. Initially, he was granted the rank of Acting Corporal in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, 123rd Battalion, Royal Grenadiers. It wasn't until 8th August 1916 that he embarked from Halifax aboard the S.S. "Cameronian" that landed at Liverpool on 18th August 1916. By 22nd August he arrived at Bramshott (part of the Aldershot Command area), still an acting provisional Corporal, from which he reverted on being posted overseas on 10th October 1916. On that date, he was transferred to join the 19th Battalion and was taken on the strength in the field on 11th October.

The next day 12th October 1916, Frederick was appointed Acting Corporal (with pay) whilst attached to the 2nd "Entrenching Battalion" (a temporary formation that the British Army also employed as needed). In the 2nd Entrenching Battalion, Frederick was also appointed Acting Sergeant with pay from 13th March 1917 for a short while until his return to the 19th Battalion and reverted initially to "private" on 16th April before being awarded and confirmed in the rank of Lance Corporal on 9th May 1917 - "vide Tweedale, Missing in the Field". A month later he was killed in action. These latter two appointments/ranks have a note against them as corresponding to "vice Tweedale, Missing in the Field". This suggests promotion in the Field in response to losses being experienced.

1) 2nd Canadian Entrenching Battalion, CEF (12th October 1916 to 16th April 1917)

First organised at Le Havre in July 1916 under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel C.R. Hill.

"Wire training and reinforcing units for personnel destined for engineer, pioneer and infantry units in the field. They were trained as infantry battalions but they also provided working parties on Royal Engineer work, trench repairs, wiring, road making to front line, carrying parties for front line, burial parties and clearing battlefield etc. In short, they performed labour battalion duties in the Canadian Corps, the Canadian labour battalions being employed in railway duties elsewhere. The entrenching battalions were abolished in September 1917 when the Canadian Corps Reinforcement Camp was formed." [Source: Library and Archives, Canada]

As Frederick joined the 2nd Entrenching Battalion (October 1916) it was marching with transport from ALBERT in stages via CANDAS to HERSIN [Map Sheet 36B, Q-5-d-83].

Frederick's billets remained at HERSIN. Billeted here, the soldiers were sent off in parties to a number of objectives. Their duties included road-work (including building, e.g. Corduroy Road) in the horse and transport lines, digging/repairing trenches, personal training, construction of dumps, loading and unloading trucks, railway construction, etc. They also supported transport from field ambulances. Their working parties were moved and dispersed around this part of the Front. Never far from the front and its casualties.

The Entrenching Battalion gained and lost officers and O.R.s throughout its existence as their originating units recalled and posted them. Throughout the period there were losses from illness. The allocation of men was determined by the needs of the Royal Engineers who more often than not took command of the men to deliver military construction needs. At times, these men were also used to guard prisoners.

Because of the way that war diaries were maintained, it is impossible to discern the location of O.R.s/N.C.O.s.

An unusual break in this story of manual effort was the "Court of Enquiry" (20th January 1917) "held at Orderly Room, 255th Tunnelling Company at PETIT SAINS for purpose of enquiring into death of Private W. NEWSAM, No.847633, 22nd Battalion, found shot through head in advanced billets (January 18/19)). President Captain ANDREWS, 29th Battalion, with Lieutenant BURTON, 28th Battalion, and Lieut. PARKER, 28th Battalion. Finding of Court. "Accidental Death".

This pattern continued into April 1917 when there were particularly large flows in and out of the Entrenching Battalion. This probably reflected the attrition in Canadian battalions along the nearby front.

The war diary for 15th and 16th April illustrates how random the pattern of postings were, drawing from units passing through the Base Depot on their way to the front and releasing existing attachments into the Front:

April 15th: HERSIN: 7 a.m.: Lieut. Leitch with 43 O.R.s to C.U.P. Yard to work in Saw Mill etc, returned 4.30pm.
Strength Increase from Canadian Base Depot: 18th Battalion 7 O.R., 19th Battalion 6 O.R.s, 20th Battalion 3 O.R., 21st Battalion, 22nd Battalion 7 O.R., 24th Battalion 12 O.R.,25th Battalion 4 O.R., 26th Battalion 7 O.R., 27th Battalion 11 O.R., 28th Battalion 7 O.R., 29th Battalion 3 O.R., 31st Battalion 49 O.R., 2nd Pioneer Battalion & O.R., Lieutenant Francis Duncan Dodsworth 25th Battalion.

Strength Decrease To Units: Lieutenant James Gordon Lauris, 19th Battalion, Lieut. Thomas A Allan 19th Battalion, Lieut. Harold James Wood 21st Battalion,Lieut. Leonard Fraser 21st; Walter Douglas Read 21st Battalion, Lieut. Leonard Henry Dejardine 22nd Battalion; Lieut. Roland Joseph Smith 26th Battalion, Lieut. Roland D'Arcy-Strickland, 28th Battalion, Lieut. Claude Frederick Roughton 31st Battalion, Lieut. Stanley Froder McSpadden 29th Battalion.
Other Ranks to Units: 20th Battalion 49 O.R., 25th Battalion 6 O.R., 27th Battalion 16 O.R.
To England for commission A/Serg. Cecil Carter.
During the Day the enemy shelled our Billets with Approx 50 rounds 6" HE. No Casualties.

April 16th: HERSIN: 7 a.m.: Lieut. Leitch with 54 O.R. to CUP YARD. COUPINGY to SWAMILL returned 4.30pm.

Strength Increase from Canadian Base Depot. Lieut. Edward Joseph Lounsbury 25th Battalion, 19th Battalion 92 ORs; 20th Battalion 96 O.R.s, 1 O.R. 24th Battalion.

Strength Decrease to Units: Lieut. R.G. Washburn 19th Battalion, Lieut. D.J. More 21st Battalion, Lieut. W.T.G. Henderson 29th Battalion. Other Ranks: 18th Battalion 66 O.R., 19th Battalion 86 O.R., 20th Battalion 9 O.R., 27th Battalion 11 O.R., 28th Battalion 50 O.R., 29th Battalion 31 O.R., 31st Battalion 49 O.R., Lieut. H.A. Bawdon 18th Battalion, Lieut. F.D. Dodsworth 25th Battalion, Lieut. E.J. Lounsbury 25th Battalion.
Enemy shelled our Billet area with approximately 60 rounds 6" H.E.. No casualties."

2) 19th Battalion, CEF (16th April to 6th August 1917)

Frederick was one of 86 "Other Ranks" to join the 19th Battalion on 16th April. For the whole of April there were 236 "O.R.s" to join the Battalion to replace those lost in the Battle of Vimy Ridge [opened on 9th April when the Battalion lost an estimated 200 soldiers]; part of the Battle of ARRAS.

War Diary Extracts

April to June 1917 was a relatively uneventful period on the Front facing the 19th Battalion so we turn to the War Diary for July and August 1917.

Frederick's Battalion Diary opened on 1st July in billets at VERDRELL [Map Ref: LENS 11.h.1], parading in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Confederation of the Dominion of Canada.

4th Brigade Forward Area at Lens July 1917Between 4th and 9th July, the Battalion moved into Divisional Reserve firstly at MARQUEFFLES FARM then FOSSE 10 [Ref Map 36B]. The Battalion then received orders to relieve the 24th Canadian Battalion in the Line - LENS, right sector - which they completed at 2.30 a.m., 11th July. The Battalion was next in the Front Line on 17th July, occupying cellars and was relieved on 23rd July. All without incident. Through to the month's end, the Battalion occupied "Scattered Billets" in Divisional Reserve where they undertook Platoon and Company Drill, practising for the Offensive over Specially Prepared Ground at MARQUEFFLES FARM. This was a 'quiet' month in terms of losses and injuries: that amounted to 3 killed, 4 died of wounds and 14 wounded.

On the 5th August, LAURENT SECTOR: The Battalion relieved the 31st Canadian Battalion. "Battalion in the Front Line Trenches, LAURENT SECTOR. Battalion went in full strength. Officers 28, O.R. 805, under the command of Lieut. Colonel L.H. Millen.
The Battalion left billets in Fosse 10 at 9.15 p.m. and relief was completed by 1.15 a.m. Disposition of Companies on Completion of Relief, "B" Right Sub Sector Front Line, "D" Left Sub Sector Front Line, "A" Company in Battalion Support, "C" Company in Battalion Reserve. Boundaries as per distribution state included in appendix.
6th August: In Laurent Sector. Distribution as in page 1. The Battalion pushed out patrols. Established [11] posts as under, in advance of our Front Line. [not transcribed because "A" Company not included].
Patrol on first leaving our trenches were met by heavy fire by machine guns and shell fire, but notwithstanding the patrols fanned out and, by 10.00 am had successfully completed their task. Casualties being 1 O.R. slightly wounded.
7th August: In the trenches. Distribution as before.
8th August: the 18th Canadian Battalion relieved our "B" and "C" Companies in the Front Line Right Sub Sector and Reserve Line respectively.
Upon completion of relief, "B" and "C" companies moved into Brigade Support in CITE ST. PIERRE, being billeted in cellars. Elements of the 18th, 20th and 21st Canadian Battalions carried out a [?minor?] operation on the Enemy's Trenches.

The lack of mention of a death in the War Diary on 6th August is about par for the course. It may be explained by the fact that confirmation of his death didn't occur until a week or so later when reports found their way back to the administrative centre at Rouen. The "Other Rank" reported as "slightly injured" in the diary for 6th August may, at a pinch, be Frederick. However, for that to be the case his injuries would have to be so serious that he didn't reach medical attention or he would have been recorded "Died from Wounds" rather than "Killed in Action"?

The War Diary for August ends with an overall summary of casualties.

Killed in Action Wounded Gassed
Officers    
2 on 16th August 2 2
Other Ranks    
19 101 4

 

Circumstances of the death of Frederick George Champ

Fragmentary notes for this day shed a bit of light where the War Diary fails and it may well be that Frederick was one of the men killed by a direct hit from a single shell while on ration duty:

6th August: "Situation Report: Wind - none. Enemy Activity: Quiet during afternoon and evening, but between 10.30 & 11 p.m. put steady stream of 41's along Cossack Trench at rate of 2 per minute. Deemed to be chiefly in M.12.a. Balance of night usual scattered shelling with 41's with few whizzbangs, ceasing about 1 a.m. Situation: Decidedly more Enemy activity during night, but otherwise normal. Captives: Nil"

"3.40pm: enemy plane over lines. Generally quiet."

6th August: "Adjutant - Raffle: Wind - Easterly. Mild. Shelling: Enemy dropped one heavy shell on road between Company H.Q. and Battalion H.Q. hitting ration party. Casualties will follow." O.C. "C" Company {Ration Parties often made up of 25-30 O.R.s drawn from available men}

Another note for 6th August (no Company identifier) gives casualties as: Sick - nil; Killed - 7 Other Ranks; Wounded - 10 Other Ranks; Wounded at Duty - 3 Other Ranks (wounded on 6th inst.) Potentially from "C" Company.

6th August: Situation Report "D" Company: Enemy Activity: Enemy throwing over few fish tails on Left Platoon Frontage.
Quantity of Trench Mortars thrown back of our front line. Wind: South.

6th August: "O.C. "A" Company: Situation Report: Wind light; Enemy activity nil; Situation normal; Captures nil."

 

Medal Records shows that Frederick George Champ was postumously awarded the Victory and British War Medals:-

Victory Medal
British War Medal
Victory Medal
British War Medal

 


Other Family Members and WW1

None recorded