From time to time I come across an old postcard of a Great War soldier with a name written on it. It’s not always possible to identify them, but occasionally I get lucky.
This particular photo was initially of interest to me as part of my research on helmet flashes. I was fairly certain that this particular flash was one of those worn by the Hampshire Territorials out in India.
In the bottom right hand corner of the photo is written “yours sincerely F C Yetman”. As this isn’t a very common surname, I felt fairly confident that I would be able to find him in the records. I took a chance and searched for the name under the Hampshire Regiment, and almost immediately up came the Medal Index Card for 280307 (formerly 1477) Cpl Frederick Charles Yetman of the 1/6th Hampshire Regiment. This also matched up with the Corporals chevrons worn in the photograph. I suspected from his 1477 number that Frederick was a pre-war territorial soldier, and had been an early volunteer for overseas service, leaving for India with his battalion in October 1914.
As his service records no longer survive, I could only find very limited details on his military service. Records show that he was awarded the Territorial Force War Medal (along with British War and Victory Medals), which confirmed my suspicions that he had been a pre war territorial, as this was part of the qualifying criteria.
Curiously, on inspection on the medal rolls themselves, a hand written note shows that he had been attached to the 52nd Trench Mortar Battery, a unit that had only served on the Western Front from it’s formation in June 1916. Sadly, I have not been able to confirm if he did return to serve on the Western Front, or if this was mistakenly added to the roll (which I believe is the most likely scenario).
The 1/6th Battalion (Duke of Connaught’s Own) Hampshire Regiment, were part of the Territorial Force and made up of volunteer soldiers, who would parade in their spare time (much the same as the modern day Army Reserve). During the war, they served initially in India to relieve the regular army troops garrisoned there, and in September 1917 they moved to Mesopotamia, where they remained until the end of the war. The battalion were based and recruited from the Portsmouth area of Hampshire, making this the best place to continue my search for Frederick.
It took a matter of minutes to then find Frederick had been born at Portsea on the 8th January 1898, one of seven children of Henry and Mary Yetman. of 53 Highfield Street, Landport, Portsmouth. Henry Yetman was a lifelong railway worker, a career that Frederick was set to follow when he joined the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway aged 14 on the 10th June 1912. He had signed up as an office porter working at Southsea Station, and remained on the books (like several other members of staff) whilst he had been away serving during the war.
From this initial research into his early life, it was immediately apparent that Frederick would only have been 16 when war was declared. This now raised the question, did he go to India with his battalion in 1914, or did he have to wait a couple of years in the UK before joining them? Had it not been for the photo of him in Khaki Drill uniform, I would have assumed he remained in the UK before being sent to the Western Front, where he joined the Trench Mortar Battery. I still suspect that as the move to India was for garrison duties and not active service, he was allowed to proceed with the Battalion in 1914.
Further investigation into local newspapers revealed that Frederick won a shooting prize during the 6th Hampshire Regiment annual shooting competition in September 1913, as part of the recruits class. I think it would therefore be fairly safe to say he join the Territorials in 1913. He was clearly a good shot, which accounts for the marksman badge (crossed rifles) as seen in the original photograph. I do hope that I am able to find out more about his war service in the future, but at the moment it seems elusive!
Frederick was finally disembodied from service on the 31st October 1919. On returning to civilian life, Frederick rejoined the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway, but as a Detective working out of Brighton with the railway police. In November 1921, he transferred to Victoria. The following year he married Doris, and they had their first son, Donald. 1922 also saw the death of his father Henry, which made the local newspaper.
In the 1939 Register, the family were living at 199 Green Lane, Sutton, Carlshalton, Surrey. As is most often the case, I could find very little else on Frederick’s later life.
Frederick died on the 20th October 1957 at Wandle Valley Hospital, Carlshalton. His funeral took place four days later when he was laid to rest in Merton.
I also found during my research that Frederick’s brother, William Henry Yetman, was killed in July 1916 whilst serving as a Petty Officer on HM Submarine E26.
8th January 1898
Frederick Charles Yetman was born in Portsea to Henry Yetman and Mary Yetman.
10th June 1912
Frederick begins work as an Office Porter for the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway at Southsea.
Frederick enlists with his local Territorial Force Battalion, the 6th (Duke of Connaught’s Own) Hampshire Regiment.
6th September 1913
Frederick comes tied 6th place in the 6th Hampshire Regiment Prize Meeting (rifle shooting competition) in the recruits series 7 shoot at Hilsea.
The Great War
Little is known about what Frederick did during the war. It is possible he served with the 52nd Trench Mortar Battery on the Western Front, but is more likely he remained with the 1/6th Hanpshire Regiment in India and Mesopotamia.
Frederick’s brother, Petty Officer William Henry Yetman, was killed onboard HM Submarine E26 when she sank with the loss of all hands.
31st October 1919
Frederick is disembodied from war service and returns to civilian life.
10th July 1920
Frederick becomes a detective with the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway at Brighton.
2nd April 1921
Frederick transfers to the Chief Office of the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway at Victoria Station, London.
14th May 1921
After only a short period at Victoria, Frederick returns to Brighton. The reason for his short attachment in London unknown.
21st February 1922
Frederick attends his father’s funeral at Kingston Cemetery, Portsmouth, as reported by The Evening News.
Frederick marries Doris and they have their first child, Donald.
Still working as a railway detective, Frederick and family are by now living in Carlshalton, Surrey.
20th October 1957
Frederick died at Wandle Valley Hospital, Carlshalton.
24th October 1957
The funeral is held in Merton.