yeovil at War

Frederick James norris

Died in England from T.B. contracted while on active service

 

Frederick James Norris was born in Yeovil in 1890, the son of Brewer's Drayman Henry James Norris (1853-1907) and Sarah Ann née Burch (b1853).

In the 1891 census Henry and Sarah were living in Sparrow Lane (today's Sparrow Road) with their four sons; Alfred (b1875), Herbert (b1883), Sidney (b1886) and one-year old Frederick. By 1901 the family had moved to 1 Park Way and Henry was working as a Groom and Store Keeper. Also living with them was their eldest son Frank, a discharged soldier, and seven-year old daughter May.

In the summer of 1909 Frederick married Emily Katherine White at Yeovil and in the 1911 census they were listed living at 7 Park Way, off Kingston and just a few doors along from his mother, siblings and their families. Frederick and Emily had a one-year old daughter, Gwendoline Sarah Louise (b1909), and Frederick listed his occupation as a carter. Frederick and Emily were to have two more children; Henry James (b1913) and Frederick George (b1916),

Frederick enlisted in the Army Reserve on 10 December 1915. He was a Gunner in the Royal Garrison Artillery (Service No 75505). He was mobilised on 11 April 1916.

The Royal Garrison Artillery (RGA) was an arm of the Royal Artillery that was originally tasked with manning the guns of the British Empire's forts and fortresses, including coastal artillery batteries, the heavy gun batteries attached to each infantry division, and the guns of the siege artillery. The RGA grew into a very large component of the British forces on the battlefield, being armed with heavy, large-calibre guns and howitzers that were positioned some way behind the front line and had immense destructive power.

On the day he was mobilised in April 1916 Frederick was posted to RGA Ceylon (today's Sri Lanka), arriving on 15 August 1916. He served with 93 Company of the RGA in Colombo, the capital of the Crown Colony of British Ceylon (it lost its status as the capital of Sri Lanka in 1980). Typically a company of the RGA was commanded by a major with around six officers, ten NCOs and between 100 and 200 men. The uniform of Garrison Artillery was the same as Field Artillery except that they were more likely to wear trousers instead of boots and breeches. On their shoulder straps were the initials of the name of their Division and the number of their company.

Unfortunately Frederick, from about May 1917, began losing weight and complained of feeling ill. He was admitted to the Military Hospital in Colombo where it was determined that he was suffering from Pulmonary Tuberculosis, contracted on active service. He was sent to a sanatorium before being transferred to No 14 Company at Shoeburyness as part of Eastern Coast Defences as a method of getting him back to England. Frederick was discharged due to his medical condition on 12 November 1917.

Frederick died in England on 3 May 1918 and was buried in Yeovil Cemetery, Grave B943, and his name is recorded on the War Memorial in the Borough.

 

gallery

 


Courtesy of Roger McElliott

The first sheet of Frederick's Service Record, showing him to be 5ft 11" tall and giving details of his family as well as a brief military history.

 

the Ceylon Garrison Artillery Headquarters at Kiru la Pane.

 


Courtesy of Roger McElliott

Another sheet of Frederick's Service Record, showing him to be physically unfit due to T.B. which originated in Colombo as a "Result of Active Service & attributable to infection whilst on service in Colombo". The date of Frederick's discharge was 12 November 1917. 

 

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission certificate in memory of Frederick Norris.

 


Courtesy of Roger McElliott

Frederick Norris' headstone in Yeovil Cemetery.

 

Yeovil Cemetery

Yeovil Cemetery contains 15 Commonwealth burials of the First World War.