Frederick Thompson

Service number: 71749 | Rank: Private | Regiment: Machine Gun Corps (Infantry).  Formerly of Norfolk Regiment (88411)

Died of wounds, February 12, 1917, in Flanders.

Buried at GUARDS’ CEMETERY, COMBLES, Somme, France.


At the turn of the 20th century the Thompson family were well known in Brandon as being a family of bricklayers. Frederick was the oldest son, born in January 1889, and as tradition dictated he was named after his father. In 1901 12-year-old Frederick, his parents, his five sisters and one brother, lived in cramped conditions in a small cramped house in Town Street. Frederick’s family got by on low bricklayers’ wages that were supplemented by his mother and two eldest sisters working for the local fur factory. Another sister was employed as a nursemaid.

A decade later Frederick was head of his own family when, in 1909, he married a Brandon girl named Beatrice Zipfel. The couple also lived in Town Street, but by then he was not involved in the bricklaying business but instead was working on the Great Eastern Railway. The couple went on to have two children, a son who they also named Frederick Ernest Thompson and a daughter, Cassie.

By the time war started Frederick and his wife had two more small children. Frederick got caught up in the fervour to enlist and joined the Norfolk Regiment with a few of his Brandon pals as part of Kitchener’s Army and in February 1915 his name featured in the Thetford & Watton Times as one of seventeen Brandon men who had just enlisted. He was given the service number 18411, but not much else is known of Frederick’s life after that point, but at some point he was transferred to the Machine Gun Section and was wounded in 1916. Following this, during his convalescence, he was given ten days leave so he could return home to Brandon for the Christmas of 1916 and spend time with his family. Just before he left the town to return to Army life he told his wife not to worry about his immediate safety because he would still be spending time convalescing in the UK and he thought this situation would not change for a few weeks. On February 11th he was severely wounded in France and the next day he succumbed to these wounds.

Frederick left behind a widow and two children and they would go on to lead long lives. Beatrice lived to her 90th birthday in 1979, Frederick jnr died in 1995 aged 85, and Cassie died aged 70 in King’s Lynn hospital in 1984.

FOOTNOTE: Documents held by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission state Frederick died on the 19th February, conflicting with contemporary documents.  This meant that for decades his headstone carried the wrong date of death.  In 2014, I submitted evidence to the CWGC to have Frederick’s headstone changed from the 19th to the 12th.  I was very pleased to be successful and CWGC confirmed at the time his headstone would be changed.  If anyone visits the headstone, please do take a photograph and share it with me.  Thank you, Darren.