Frederick William Beckwith was born and raised in Springfield, worked as a carman, lived in Mildmay Road with his sister, joined the army and was killed in the great German offensive of March 1918.
Frederick was born in Springfield on 15th March 1884, the son of James Beckwith and Ellen Beckwith (nee Everitt). His father had been born in 1850 in Great Braxted; his mother in Woodham Walter c1852. His parents had married on 6th August 1871 at St. Michael’s Church in Woodham Walter. At that time his father was a 21 year-old labourer, his mother was aged 19, and both lived in the parish. A decade later the couple had been resident at Church Chase, Great Baddow.
Frederick was baptised at All Saints’ Church in Springfield on 10th October 1884. At the time his father was a labourer living in the village. That day also saw the baptism in the church of William Arthur Warner who was to also lose his life in the war.
Frederick’s siblings included Henry Charles Beckwith (born in 1872 in Woodham Walter), Mary Anne Elizabeth Beckwith (born 1874 in Woodham Walter), Thomas Edward Beckwith (born 1876 in Springfield, died 1960), Selina Louisa Beckwith (born 1879 in Springfield, died 1963), Lily Beckwith (born 1881 in Great Baddow, died 1946) and Clara Ethel Beckwith (born 1888 in Springfield, died 1935).
Frederick’s father died in 1890 near Crix in Hatfield Peverel. His death and the subsequent management of his burial promoted the attached letter to the Essex County Chronicle.
The 1891 census found Frederick at Walnut Tree Cottage in Boreham, living with his widowed mother and four siblings. His mother was a housekeeper; his brother Henry was an agricultural labourer and his sister Mary was a domestic servant.
Ten years later the next census found the family at 3 French’s Square, Chelmsford. Frederick, aged 17 and employed as a carman, was accompanied by his mother, three siblings and a boarder. His mother was a charwoman, as was his sister Lilly, while brother Thomas was also a carman - a profession their father had held in 1881. Later in 1901 Frederick’s brother Thomas married Ellen Marie Allen.
Frederick’s mother died in 1911, aged 50. The census of that year recorded 27 year-old Frederick living with his sister Clara at 7 Mildmay Road in Chelmsford. He was a coal carman.
Frederick enlisted at Chelmsford and served as Private 23912, Essex Regiment. He subsequently transferred to the Machine Gun Corps (Infantry) and was killed in action on 21st March 1918 while serving as Serjeant 11113 in its 109th Company, part of the 36th Machine Gun Corps Battalion.
He is buried at Grand-Seraucourt British Cemetery in Aisne, France, about eight kilometres south-west of St Quentin. The cemetery was created between 1920 and 1926 when many graves were brought in from surrounding battlefield cemeteries. He is commemorated on a memorial within the cemetery as one of 99 British soldiers whose remains had been brought in from the Essigny-le-Grand German Cemetery.
BECKWITH, FREDERICK WILLIAM,
Sergeant, Machine Gun Corps (formerly of the Essex Regiment)
Frederick is also commemorated on the Civic Centre Memorial, Chelmsford. He was entitled to the Victory and British War medals.
The 1918 register of electors listed an absent Frederick William Beckwith still at 7 Mildmay Road (later numbered as 17).