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Frederick Neville Grimes was born in High Barnett in about 1899 and was the son of John and Alice Grimes (nee Neville) of 1 St George’s cottages, Moxon Street, High Barnett. He had one older brother, Albert Joseph; and four younger brothers named Walter, Arthur, Herbert and John.

Frederick attested into the Army at Mill Hill on 17th June 1908 and was posted into the 1st Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment where he was given the number 9358. He was 18 years 6 months old and had been working as general labour but had some prior military experience having been with 4th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment ‘Special Reserve’ where he would have spent some of his weekends and holidays doing military training.

In February 1910 he was posted across to the 2nd Battalion and was sent out to India with them on Imperial Policing duties. In June that year he received his 1st good conduct badge and ten months later, April 1911, was granted proficiency pay on account of his newly acquired 3rd class educational qualification.  He is shown on the 1911 census as being with the Battalion in India.

On 13th September 1911 he was noted as being absent without leave and on 7th October that year, as he hadn’t returned, was declared an absentee and deserter.

He traveled back to the U.K. and on 8th September 1912 married Lillian Annie Hollands at St Marks Church in South Norwood. The couple had their first daughter, Lillian Florence, in Croydon in January 1913 and a second on 21st July 1914, Kathleen Rose*.

*Author’s note: Kathleen’s name and date of birth only appears on one form and I have found no reference to her in BMD records.

On the day Britain declared war on Germany, 4th August 1914,  Frederick’s conscience appears to have either got the better of him or wanted a part in the great adventure that was to be had at the Front.  The following notice was printed in the Pall Mall Gazette on 11th August 1914**.


Frederick Grimes, aged twenty-six, was charged on his own confession at Highgate today* with being a deserter from the Second Battalion Loyal North Lancashire Regiment.

The man who stated that he deserted in 1911, when his regiment was stationed in India, was ordered to be sent to the regimental depot.

**Author’s note: the article was printed on 11th August and states ‘today’ but his papers show he had already presented himself at Preston.

Arriving at the depot Frederick was granted the King’s pardon for his previous deserting of the Colours and was posted into the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion where he would be sent to Felixstowe for training whilst waiting to go out to the Front. Fortunately/unfortunately for Frederick after only a few days training it was apparent he was unfit for war service and he was discharged on 15th August 1914 – his military character upon discharge was assessed as being exemplary.

In September 1915 Frederick and Lillian had their third daughter, Alice Maud. He then spent six weeks at a sanatorium in High Barnett where he had what they described as outdoor treatment. Upon his release he reenlisted in the Army.

Enlisting again on 31st December 1915 he rejoined the 3rd Loyal North Lancs and was sent down to Felixstowe for retraining, his number now being 22751. He was just short of his 27th birthday but didn’t make it past the training phase this time either as was quickly diagnosed with phthisis, a disease characterised by the wasting away or atrophy of the body or a part of the body. Frederick was finally discharged on 2nd March 1916 and issued with the Silver War Badge numbered 51873. His address at the time of discharge was 75 New Road, High Barnett.

His condition was deemed not to have been caused or aggravated by military service and claims to a military pension were finally rejected in 1917.

Frederick Neville Grimes died in Croydon in December 1935.

Paul McCormick
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