Frederick Hensby

Service number: 242519 | Rank: Private | Regiment: Norfolk Regiment

Killed in action, April 19, 1917, in Palestine.  Aged 33.

Remembered at JERUSALEM MEMORIAL, Israel.

Husband of Harriet Kent (formerly Hensby), of Aerodrome Cottages, Feltwell, Norfolk.


In the 1891 Census, nine-year-old Frederick and his family were living in Ixworth and his parents had stated his place of birth as being Pakenham.  On the 1911 Census return he stated he had been born in Ixworth. At some point between 1911 and 1914 Frederick took his family to live in Thetford and it was there he became a member of the Volunteer Training Corps, a type of local militia. By the time he enlisted into the army at Norwich, as one of ‘Kitchener’s Army’, he and his family had moved again and were then living in George Street, Brandon. He was placed into one of the Norfolk Regiment’s Territorial Battalions.

Although he was a Territorial soldier, probably in the 7th (Service) Battalion of the Norfolk Regiment, he still ended up at the Front. In May 1915 he went to Flanders and saw active service but was so severely wounded in the fighting he was invalided out of his battalion and brought back to Britain to recover and convalesce.

Just over a year later it seemed Frederick had recovered enough so he could be sent back to fight and he was then placed into the 1st/5th Battalion, Norfolk Regiment, a much depleted battalion in need of men to bolster their ranks. The battalion had lost many men in Gallipoli, including the ‘Vanished Battalion’ from Sandringham and it soon became clear why Frederick had been allocated to them. There was going to be a huge push, not in the fields of Flanders, but in the Middle East and plans had been drawn up to capture Jerusalem. The first stage of this plan was to fill up the depleted units and send them off to attack Gaza. In February 1917 Frederick’s battalion left Britain and they sailed toward the Middle East and on the 19th April Frederick’s unit were in action. A tank led his unit into battle and they made good ground before capturing an enemy redoubt, taking prisoners and killing more hostile enemy. However the enemy then concentrated their artillery on this position, which in turn caused many casualties among the Norfolks, and they were unable to hold the redoubt under persistent enemy counter-attacks and had to withdraw.

Frederick did not withdraw with his unit and was initially listed as “Missing” and it took almost a month before his wife received the official notification. It took a further six months before she received official confirmation that he was listed as “presumed killed in action”. His body was never found. Frederick had just reached his 34th birthday, just three days before he died, and had left behind a widow and four young children.

A few years later Frederick’s widow moved away from of Brandon and lived at Feltwell, Norfolk, with her new husband. She had then become Mrs Kent.