Frederick Arthur Law


About Frederick Arthur

  • Name
    Frederick Arthur
  • Initials
    F A
  • Surname
  • Date of Birth
    22 January 1898
  • Birth town
  • Resided town
  • Commemorated
  • Nationality
  • Place of death
    Merredin, Western Australia
  • Date of death
  • Married
  • Occupation
    Farm Worker

Service Information

  • Army

  • Service Number
  • Rank
  • Regiment
    Northamptonshire Yeomanry


Frederick Arthur Law was born in Northampton on 22 January 1898, to parents William Henry, a market gardener, and Edith Frances (nee Copson).  The family lived at 56 Horsemarket, Northampton and in 1911 Frederick (13) lived there with his parents and siblings Edith Margaret (15), a milliner, Dora Mary (10) and Sydney (7).  Frederick attended Northampton Grammar School, he loved sports, had a great interest in reading and music and was a member of the church choir.  However, his school career was suddenly cut short, with the sudden death of his father in August 1912, and he was needed to help out in the fields and help keep the family business going.

Frederick was in the Boy Scouts and in 1914, at the outbreak of war, their services were called upon to meet soldiers, arriving in Northampton for training, to show them to their billets and camping areas.  Some nights he stayed with the soldiers at their camp on Northampton Racecourse.

In November 1914, at just 16 years of age he walked into Clare Street Barracks, Northampton to enlist. He wasn’t trying to deceive them about his age, but thought they might allow him to join a non-combatant unit.  He asked to join the Army Service Corps, but being told there was no space, he was offered the Northants Yeomanry, which he was delighted with, because of his love of horses.  At 5’10” he was big for his age and he told the doctor he was eighteen and was accepted, with no questions asked.

His training started with the 2/1 Northants Yeomanry and at parade one morning the sergeant asked for volunteers to learn cold shoeing either for regimental transport or for the machine gun corps.  Frederick volunteered to join the machine gun section and on being told it was called the “suicide squad” he commented that it didn’t really matter what job you did as none of them could be called safe!  He undertook training at the Machine Gun School in Grantham.  He was appointed Acting Corporal in October 1916 and promoted to Acting Sergeant in December that year.  He served with the British Expeditionary Force in France from 16 April 1917 to 21 January 1919, transferring to the 14th Machine Gun Squadron in May 1917.  He returned to the UK on 21 January 1919 and returned to his home on 22 January, his 21st birthday.  He was awarded the British War and Allied Victory Medals.

Frederick signed the visitors’ book when he passed through Peterborough East Station on 14 October 1916.  He thanked the ladies and also drew a lovely sketch of a horse.  On the same page are other members of the Northamptonshire Yeomany and from what they wrote, it appears that Frederick was stationed at Trusthorpe Hall Camp, near Mablethorpe, Lincs.

During his war service Frederick carried his father’s prayer book with him at all times and in it he recorded all the battles that he had taken part in: “The Battle of the Somme, Cambrai (1917), Arras (1916), Bapaume (1916), Villiers (1917), Guislane (1917), Gauche Wood (1917), St Quentin (1917), Chalnes (1918), Mezziers (1918), Castel (1918), Caix (1918) and the Retreat of March 21st 1918 followed up by the victorious advance in August 1918 and the Armistice”.

Frederick returned to farming for a time, working at Abington Lodge, Northampton.  However, he really wanted a farm of his own, but not only was he thought too young to take on this responsibility, he was actively discouraged and told “there was no future in it”.  His thoughts then began to turn to Australia.  In the meantime he had a busy social life, he played for a local football team, sang and performed with the local choral and musical society. He got engaged to Kitty Jones and planned to spend two years in Australia and then either Kitty would join him or he would come home to England.  In June 1921, he set sail for Albany in Western Australia on ‘Themistocles’.  With a letter of introduction in his pocket, he found work with farmer, Mr Stoneman in Burracoppin, eager to learn the Australian way of farming.  He eventually hoped to receive a grant of land from the Australian Government under the soldiers’ settlers scheme, but later learnt that this only applied to Australian military. He moved to another farming job with Mr Wilding at Mokine, which he liked better. Meanwhile Kitty gave him an ultimatum, she would either join him or he should come home, but after much thought decided he could do neither.  He continued with farm work, but knew he needed to do something else and so enrolled on a course in bookkeeping and secretarial work, doing his studying in his spare time. He continued his love of singing and amateur dramatics and wrote several plays for amateur dramatic societies and it was during the production of one of these plays he met Irene Hird whom he was to eventually marry.  With his bookkeeping qualification he eventually got a job with the Merredin Road Board.

Frederick married Irene Kennedy Hird on 7 December 1927 in the Roman Catholic Church, Cunderdin, Western Australia.  They had four children Joan Kennedy (1928), Roma Frederika (1930), John Winthrop (1932) and one other daughter.  He died in Merredin, Western Australia in 1963, aged 65.

We were fortunate to find Frederick’s memoirs on Ancestry, from where much of this information is taken.

We have made contact with Frederick’s grandson, Peter Law who lives in Cottesloe, Western Australia; he has kindly allowed us to use a photo of Frederick with his wife and young family and is happy for us to share Frederick’s memoirs.

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