JAMES FRITH'S LETTER - JULY 1916 SHEFFIELD
The 1901 UK Census has this entry for the FRITH family who were living in the Attercliffe district of Sheffield
Ten years later the family had moved - James's wife Eliza died in 1905 which left James a widower with a family to bring up. It seems as though they moved in with their eldest daughter Mary Elizabeth Batty (nee Frith) at 58 Phillimore Road, Darnall, Sheffield
The person to note is the youngest member of the family JOHN WILLIAM FRITH - in the 1901 Census he is one year old and in 1911 he was 11 years old and still at school. This is confirmed in the BMD Index - a John William Frith was born in the December quarter of 1899 in Sheffield (GRO Ref Volume 9C Page 660)
But the surprise is that on 10th May 1915 James William Frith enlisted at Attercliffe (Sheffield) with the Yorks and Lancs Regiment and declared that he was 19 years and 8 months old at the time of enlistment. He was 5ft 7inches tall and weighed 140 lb (10 stone). He chest measurement was 37 inches. He gave his occupation as Mill-hand. It is clear that John added four years to his actual age so he could enlist. he was in fact just 15 years of age
But he was never challenged at least in his file about his age. His service record shows that from 20th May 1915 - 19th December 1915 he remained in the UK (214 days). On 20th December 1915 - 9th March 1915 (87 days) he was in the Mediterranean, and from 10th March 1915 he was in France with the 12Btn, Yorks and Lancs Regiment. His service came to an end, like 20,000 others, on 1st July 1916 when he was killed in action on the first day of the Somme. He was just 16 years old at the time and had spent just 144 days in France. His total service from enlistment to his death was one year and fourteen days.
He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial for the missing.
This letter was written by James, John's father on the 11th July 1916 asking the army to send his son home as he was "not yet seventeen." He enclosed John's birth certificate and requested that he be released from service.
At the time James sent the letter, news was filtering back to Sheffield of the enormous number of casualties that occurred on that Saturday and the days following. On hearing the breaking news James decided that he must get his son back home but he was too late. John was already dead. He was aware that his son was under age when he enlisted but it appears that he was prepared to hide this fact from the Army until the carnage started. He then wrote this letter (I think someone else wrote it for James and he signed it - the writing is different) which smacks of fear and desperation in the hope that the Army could "arrange for his release and return to me." The Army could do neither.
James died at the family home 58 Frederick Street less than four years later in March 1920 and is buried in Sheffield's Darnall Cemetery
FRITH, Eliza (Wife of James William Frith, age 43).Died at 43 Slitting Mill Lane; Buried on May 14, 1905 in Unconsecrated ground;
Grave Number 48, Section B of Darnall Cemetery, Sheffield. Parent or Next of Kin if Available: ~. Remarks: from Attercliffe Parish: Officiating Minister Albert T. Mills.
FRITH, Harriet (Widow, age 77).
Died at 23 Harding Street; Buried on January 14, 1914 in Unconsecrated ground; Grave Number 48, Section B of Darnall Cemetery, Sheffield.
Parent or Next of Kin if Available: ~. Remarks: from Darnall Parish: Officiating Minister F.D. Humphreys.
FRITH, James (Timekeeper, age 61).
Died at 36 Swallow Row; Buried on December 4, 1892 in Unconsecrated ground; Grave Number 48, Section B of Darnall Cemetery, Sheffield.
Parent or Next of Kin if Available: ~. Remarks: Purchased. William Frith: from Darnall Parish: Officiating Minister J.H. Stimpson.
FRITH, James William (Steel Rod Roller, age 61).
Died at 58 Frederick Street; Buried on March 15, 1920 in Unconsecrated ground; Grave Number 48, Section B of Darnall Cemetery, Sheffield.
Parent or Next of Kin if Available: ~. Remarks: from Darnall Parish: Officiating Minister Rennie J. Brown.
As for their son John he is remembered on
Sheffield Council Official Roll of Honour
Sheffield City Battalion Roll of Honour
Holy Trinity Roll of Honour Darnall 2008 Version
Army Record for John William Frith
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This page was last updated on 14/10/17 16:44