Researched and written by Anne Wright
L/Cpl F Lemon
8th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment
Died of wounds, 11.4.1916
Frederick Lemon’s parents, William and Louisa (nee Saunders) were married at St. James’ Church in Weybridge on 24 February 1876. He was their third child and first son, born on 30 December 1880 and baptised on 20 February 1881 also in St James’ Church. At this time the family lived at Nut Cottages and William, like his father before him was a gardener. Frederick was one of seven children: Edith, Emily, Frederick, Harry, Helene, Olive and Leslie. By 1891 the family had moved to 2, New Road, off Princes Road. Ten years later their address was 2, Yew Cottages in New Road; William was still a gardener, now in domestic service and Frederick having left St James’ School had followed in his footsteps. He married Marie (or Mary) Driscoll in 1904. They probably met locally as in 1901 she was a housemaid in the Belton household of Heath House, Weybridge. By the end of 1911 they had four children: Rosalie Eleanor Marie, William Frederick Thomas, Olive Irene Doris and Ronald Alfred. Their home was at Eyot Cottage, Walton Lane in Weybridge; Frederick was still a gardener in domestic service.
He enlisted at Kingston on 15 December 1914; he stood just under five feet and five inches tall and his home address was 1, Walton Villas, Weybridge. Frederick was posted to the 8th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment, part of the 55th Brigade in the 18th (Eastern) Division. He spent time at Purfleet, Colchester and Salisbury Plain before going to France where his battalion disembarked at Boulogne at 2am on 28 July 1915. Frederick and his comrades spent their time in a relatively small area around Albert, including Dernancourt, Meaulte and Fricourt in the Somme country. By the end of September they were in front line trenches near Meaulte where they remained until the 8 October; they suffered four fatalities and six woundings. They then went into billets at Ville-sur-Ancre. They slipped into the regular rhythm of being in and out of the trenches. When in billets the hard work continued with digging trenches, working on dug-outs, mining and physical drill. In the trenches they were close to the Tambour (west of Fricourt) which was a site of tunnelling and the laying of mines. It of course attracted enemy attention such as the bombardment on 30 November 1915. On 23 December Frederick’s battalion celebrated Christmas before going into the line the next day.
Their routine continued until they moved close to the River Somme in early March 1916. On 17 March they were at Etinhem camp and the next day went into the trenches near Frise. Four days later the Germans attacked; there was hand to hand fighting for one and a half hours. The enemy was driven back but of the 8th Battalion, one was killed and eleven wounded. Frederick was very likely to have been one of the wounded unless he was among the casualties of a German attack on the Tambour in early January. He died of wounds on 11 April.
Frederick is buried in Chipilly Communal Cemetery Extension (A.16) 10 km from Albert. The death of his widow, Marie, in 1920, orphaned their four children. William and Ronald went to St. Vincent’s Catholic Orphanage in Torquay and Rosalie and Myrtle to St. Theresa’s Catholic Orphanage in Plymouth. They all survived into adulthood; William and Ronald died in 1984 and 1978 respectively and Rosalie and Irene in 1986 and 1963 respectively.
The British Army in the Great War of 1914-1918, The Long, Long Trail – East Surrey Regiment, www.longlongtrail.co.uk
Memorial to the Masters and Old Boys of St James’ School, Weybridge Who Fell in the Great War 1914-1918, St James’ Church
Surrey, England, Church of England Baptisms, 1813-1912, www.ancestry.co.uk
Surrey, England, Church of England Marriages, 1837-1915, www.ancestry.co.uk
England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007, www.ancestry.co.uk
England & Wales, Civil Registration of Marriages Index, 1837-1915, www.ancestry.co.uk
Kendon-Driscoll Family Tree, www.ancestry.co.uk
Surrey Recruitment Registers, 1908-1933, www.findmypast.co.uk