Frederick William Bygrave
Name: Frederick William Bygrave
1891 - 16th September 1915
Place of Birth: Arlesey
Division: 5th Battalion
Regiment: Bedfordshire Regiment
Commemorated: Sp Mem A 19, Embarkation Pier Cemeter, Suvla, Turkey
Person(s) placing the cross on behalf of the Arlesey Remembers You Project: Chris Gravett
Frederick was born in Arlesey in 1891, the son of William and Clara Bygrave. He had a younger brother, Arthur and 3 younger sisters: Ida, Gertrude and Jessie. The family lived on the High Street in Arlesey and William was employed as a bricklayer.
Frederick enlisted in D Company 1st/5th Battalion of the Bedfordshire regiment in late November/early December of 1914. D company were based at Biggleswade with detachments at Sandy, Arlesey and St Neots and in 1914 were commanded by Lieut Rudolf Meade Smythe. The Battalion left Devonport on 26th July 9115, bound for “somewhere out East”. After a brief stop-over in Egypt Frederick went with his battalion to Gallipoli on 10th August 1915. The Battalion were involved in the assault against the Kiretch Tepe Sirt where they came under heavy fire. An eye witness from the 8th Hampshire Battalion wrote that the 6th Bedfords had to advance across a mile of open ground and were subject to heavy fire all the way. Private Harold Thomas of the 5th Bedfords, was in one of the many patrols sent out that night, he wrote “I remember the tremendous crash of rifle and machine-gun fire close to us and the 'thump' 'thump' of bullets and sparks flying from stones while an officer, sergeant and six of us pushed through the scrub towards the curve of a hill which showed up darkly against the night sky. Between the bursts of fire the silence was broken by agonizing cries which will always haunt me: seemingly from all about that hill there were voices crying 'Ambulance' 'Stretcher-bearers' 'Ambulance' 'Oh damn you my leg's broken' and then again 'Stretcher-bearers.' It was horrible, we would start for a voice and it would cease and another far away would begin. That hill-side was a shambles: evidently there had been a fierce hand-to-hand fighting there a few hours ago, rifles, kits, water-bottles, khaki, Turkish tunics and headgear were strewn among the scrub. While we were following a phantom-like voice we came suddenly on a half-dug trench which an RAMC officer had made into a combined mortuary and first aid station; there we set furiously to work sorting out the dead from the living; there reeled among us out of the darkness an officer raving, 'My men have taken that bloody hill but they're dying of thirst.' He passed on and we continued our ghastly work.”
The battalion casualties numbered 14 officers and 300 men.
It seems Frederick survived this assault, but was injured and later died from his wounds in a casualty clearing station on 16th September.
William and Clara were informed of Frederick’s death in October, and at the same time were told their youngest son, Arthur had been severely wounded in the Dardanelles.
Frederick is remembered with honour at the Embarkation Pier Cemetery. Early in August 1915, the Embarkation Pier area was occupied by the headquarters of two divisions and later by the 16th (British) Casualty Clearing station. The pier was made for the purpose of evacuating wounded from the Battle of Sari Bair, but it came under heavy rifle and shell fire and was abandoned after just two days. Apart from five original burials, the cemetery is made up of burials brought in after the armistice from the cemeteries known as Chailak Dere Nos 1and 2, Mulberry Tree and Apex, and from isolated graves. There are now 944 Commonwealth servicemen buried or commemorated in the cemetery.