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Harvest Home, Haines Hill 1911
Harvest Home, Haines Hill 1911
image: CD-Rom of Hurst
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Priest, Frederick Harry

1914-1915 Star
1914/15 Star
Victory Medal
Victory Medal
British War Medal
British War Medal
Second Lieutenant Frederick Harry Priest (Officer)
Drowned while bathing on Wednesday 22nd May 1918, aged 21
Son of Frederick Arthur & Ellen Priest
Father's occupation: Gamekeeper
Born 27th August 1896 at Fulham, Middx
4 sisters, 2 brothers, position in family: 1
Infant School:Ruscombe
Senior School:Hurst Boys
Admitted:Monday 28th March 1904
Age on admission:7
Left school:Monday 5th September 1904
Age at leaving:8
Local address: Cameron Cottage, Haines Hill
Pre-war occupation: Gamekeeper, Haines Hill Estate
Enlisted:Reading, Tuesday 1st September 1914
Regiment:Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry
Battalion:3rd Bn.
Previous unit:11496 A/Cpl, 3rd Bn Coldstream Guards
Went overseas:Friday 22nd January 1915
Died:Wednesday 22nd May 1918
Cause:Drowned while bathing
Battalion at:Catterick
Commemorated:Grave at St. Nicholas Churchyard, Hurst

Frederick Priest was born at 16 Shorrolds Road, Fulham on 27th August 1896 to Frederick and Ellen Priest. He was the oldest of seven children and had two brothers and four sisters. By 1901 the family had moved to Ruscombe where Frederick's father was a Gamekeeper on the Haines Hill Estate.

Frederick attended Ruscombe Infants School and in March 1904, when his family were living in Hinton Road, Hurst, he became a pupil for a short time at Hurst Boys School. After leaving school Frederick also became a Gamekeeper on the Haines Hill Estate.

During the First World War Frederick's family lived in Cameron Cottage, Haines Hill, Twyford. Frederick enlisted at Reading barracks on 1st September 1914 and joined 3rd Battalion of the Coldstream Guards. He was 5 feet nine inches tall with light brown hair and blue eyes and weighed 9 stones two pounds. After training Frederick went to France on 22nd January 1915 and served on the Western Front for two years, being promoted to Lance Corporal in October 1915. By February 1917 he had reached the rank of acting Corporal and was put forward for a commission. His application was endorsed by the Commandant of 1st Guards Brigade who stated:

I have seen this NCO: he's a smart young corporal and at the present low standard he may make a useful officer.

Obviously two years in the trenches was no substitute for a public school education even at this stage of the war, but despite this faint praise Frederick was given a warrant to report to Victoria Barracks, Windsor for officer selection. He then gained a place in No. 13 Officer Cadet Battalion at Newmarket and commenced four and a half months training on 17th April 1917. Upon completion he was appointed as a Second Lieutenant in 3rd Battalion of the Oxford & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.

Frederick did not return to France and nothing more is known of his army career until he accidentally drowned while bathing on 22nd May 1918. The Commandant of Scotton Camp, Catterick wrote to the War Office explaining the circumstances:

Dear Sir,
I regret to have to report that 2nd Lieutenant F. Priest, 3rd Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry was accidentally drowned while bathing in the River Swale near Hipswell at about 6 p.m. yesterday the 22nd instant.
He was bathing with 2nd Lieutenant D.L. Harrison, 5th Middlesex Regiment, who is not a strong swimmer, when he was apparently seized with Heart Failure or Cramp and Sank. 2nd Lieutenant Harrison immediately called for help from two Cadets who were bathing on the opposite side; these two Cadets got 2nd Lieutenant Priest out, but it was too late, as artificial respiration which was applied for about 1½ hours by the M.O. of the 23rd Cadet Battalion failed to bring him to.
I have the honour to be, Sir, your obedient servant,
Lieutenant Colonel L C Hope
Commandant, Infantry Command Depot.

Frederick's fellow officers paid his outstanding mess bill and the army paid for his funeral. Frederick died without making a will and so his father had to sign a statement as next of kin before the army would release his effects. The statement was counter-signed by Edward Godsal, father of Alan Godsal who had been killed in action three years before, in his capacity as JP, Dominion of New Zealand. Frederick was 21 years old when he died and rests in St Nicholas Churchyard, Hurst. Frederick's cousin, Arthur Maurice Priest, also died in the First World War.


Frederick Priest at St. Nicholas Churchyard, Hurst
St. Nicholas Churchyard, Hurst
His duty done
God called him home

They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in morning
We will remember them.
Lawrence Binyon