Frederick Howard Arnold Horsfall (1891-1916)

Frederick Howard Arnold Horsfall was born in Gravesend in 1891 to Frederick and Louisa Horsfall. His father, already a sailor travelled the world as part of his career, therefore it was without question what Frederick would also do as he grew up. Frederick travelled the world with his father aboard various ships until he was seven years old, he then resided in Nova Scotia and later in Victoria, British Columbia and Canada where he became an expert sailor. When his father died he came back to England with his mother. The family lived at Barricane House, Mortehoe, and although a connection can’t be found between them and the Conibear family who lived at Barricane at this time, it can be assumed they were either related or lodgers providing extra income. Barricane House was built by Samuel Conibear in 1860 and was first used as an inn, it then became a family home where it passed through the Conibear family. Frederick joined the Royal West Kent regiment on the 19th August 1914, and left for Australia shortly after this, where he hoped to make a home for himself and his mother. When he arrived war had just broken out and Frederick joined the 1st Division Australian Imperial Force.

At the time of enlisting, Frederick’s records describe him as being 5ft, 5 inches tall, weighing 139Ibs, with a fresh complexion, hazel eyes and brown hair. He had a scare on the inner side of his left thigh, a scar on his big toe and a smaller scar at the base of the right side of his neck. His Battalion would be amongst the first infantry unites raised for the AIF during the first world war. The battalion was raised within a fortnight of the declaration of war in August 1914 and embarked just two months later. After a brief stop in Albany, Western Australia, the battalion proceeded to Egypt, arriving on the 2nd December. They took part in the ANZAC landing on 25th April 1915 where they served until the evacuation in December 1915 After the withdrawal from Gallipoli, the battalion returned to Egypt. In March 1916 they sailed for France and the Western Front.

The battalion’s first major action in France was at Pozieres in the Somme valley in July 1916, it would be here on the 23rd July, that Frederick would be killed. Many of his friends and comrades witnessed his death, and the following witness statements were recorded: “Informant states Horsfall killed at Pozieres by small piece of shell splinter, which struck the back of his head, just below helmet.” “This officer was killed instantly by a shot through his head, whilst engaged in ‘digging in’ after the capture of Pozieres in July.” “About 23rd July (it was a Sunday) when we took Pozieres he was hit by shrapnel in the left shoulder, and was killed. We had to go to Australia and leave him.” “I saw his dead body just behind the trench we had taken from the Germans at Pozieres, on 23rd July. Evidently he had been killed by a shell.

There was a big gash across his shoulder and a wound in one foot. He must have been killed outright.” “Witness states that he was shot in the head and killed instantaneously in Charge at Pozieres 23rd July. I knew Horsfall well, he was in the same company, thick set, age about 29.” “Corporal Horsfall was on sentry duty on July 23 at Pozieres, watching for a counter attack, while the men were digging in. A casualty was wounded, and asked Horsfall to help bandage him up. He replied that it was impossible, he could not leave his post. Five minutes after he was killed by shrapnel. I saw his body lying where he fell.” Fredericks mother, following her sons death continued to live in Mortehoe at Barricane House, a central focus of the village, and from the windows she would have seen the war memorial in St Mary’s church that bore her sons name.


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