Frederick John ‘Fred’ Tyler was Chelmsford born and grew up above his father’s upholstery shop in the town’s High Street. He married in 1903 and had one child and adopted another. He worked as a hall porter, at the giant Hoffmann’s bearings factory, as the groundsman for Chelmsford Football Club, and as an engineer. He joined the Territorials in 1908 and was mobilized at the start of the war. In July 1915 he left England for Gallipoli, where he caught typhoid. He died from the disease on board a hospital ship evacuating him from there. His home was in Regina Road. Letters have survived sent to and from him while he was serving.
TYLER, FREDERICK JOHN,
D Company, 1/5th Battalion, Essex Regiment
we are on the top of one. It is very cold at night. I do not know which is the worst enemy the Turks or the flies. They come in thousands especially when you are eating your food. Can you send me a few packets of A.G. cigarette papers so as I can make a few cigarettes & also some writing material this we are all short of we cannot get any at all as there are not any shops or anything like that only hills?
Well dear how is Irene getting on I hope she is alright & well & Emily. Have you still Messrs Adams & Abbots with you if so tell them I could do with a half pint.
Well dear I do not think this will last long out here I hope not I know I shall appreciate my home & you dear much better when I get back. Well I do not think I have any more to say this time only don’t forget the writing paper & fag paper so with fond love to all & the fondest love & kisses to yourself & Irene, I will close & remain
Your ever loving husband Fred
403 Pte F J Tyler
D Coy [Censored] Regt.”
His next letter referred to a Zeppelin airship passing over Chelmsford, an event that occurred on 17th August 1915:
My dearest own Florry,
Just a few lines to you to tell you how delighted I was to get another letter from you dear. I expect you were all very much upset over the air raid on the old town there is no sounding of the devils you cannot be surprised at anything from them.
Well darling you did not say how your leg was. I am anxious about that [as] is worries me a lot as I lay in my dug out of a night or day as the case may be. Sometimes we do not get the chance. I wonder how you leg is or how you are all getting on. I picture you all & I see my dear little Irene just as if I was at home but I shall be glad to get home again.
I can assume you asked if we had been in action yet well I must not say but if you look in the casualty list you will see poor old Wiggy Baker has gone I helped to carry him off poor chap. I feel very sorry indeed for his wife but he did some good work. I have had some near things but I am lucky. I do not think you will want to worry about me too much. I shall keep dodging them alright dear so chin up I shall come back alright.
I have written to Emily Maud & I am writing to Mark today if I get time. I hope you will send me some paper when you write again. Darling I have written to you every week so you ought to get a letter regular now perhaps two a week sometimes as that passes the time away when we are resting as you cannot sleep much here. There is a rumour going about that the division is going to have a rest for a week or two but I do not put any faith in it because there so many rumours going about one gets fed up with them. Well darling I do not think I have any more today this time. So with fondest love & kisses
I will close & always remain your ever loving husband xxxxx Fred xxxxxx
They have just brought me another letter I can see it has come from you. I am just going to open it. Thank you very much for this card I shall keep it as long as I can dear to think of you. Well goodbye for the present. I will write again soon.
kisses for Irene xxxxx
Remember me to all.”
In his next letter home Fred wrote of his hopes for after the war:
My own dearest Florry,
Just a few lines to you trusting you are quite well as I pleased to say I am up to the present. We had another mail yesterday but I was one of the unfortunate. But never mind perhaps you have had not one of mine yet & you missed the mail. I know you will write as often as you can & send a paper now & again.
I do wish it was all over & I was home again, I shall be delighted there is one thing the war has done that is learnt us married men to appreciate our homes better than ever. I shall not travel from my home no more & no more band work for me. I am going to stop with you dear.
I am going very well up to the present but I should like a piece of bread & butter & cheese. I am fed up of Bully & jam I do not want to see anymore bully beef when I get home for months & months.
I have just written to Emily I will write to Maud next time I cannot use to much of my mates paper at a time I shall be glad to get some of my own again.
How is little Irene getting on? I often picture you both. Does Irene grow much? I expect she is getting on nicely. Well dear do not forget to put some flowers on Frankie’s grave for me dear will you & can you send me a few sweets just to moisten my mouth with we do not get much water & it is not very good or clean? I do not like to ask you for much as I do not know how you are placed now.
Well dearest I must close now with the fondest of love & kisses & will always remain your ever loving husband ''Fred''.
Do not forget to write every week
Remember me to Missing, Green & Parish Wiffen.”
Fred also wrote:
“My own Dearest Florry,
Just a few lines to you hoping & trusting you & all are quite well I am glad to say I am well & safe up to the present only very dirty of course you cannot help that because there is not much water only for drinking occasionally we get a wash & brush up & not very often. There are rumours about peace around this part but we cannot believe it yet. I am sending a few cigarette cards for Irene I wished I could send something for you but I cannot get anything here at all of course we could not buy anything here as this is the enemies country of course they would not trade. Well dear how is your leg getting on I do hope it is better. Well dearest
I am making pancakes today. I wonder what luck I shall have.
How is Emily & Maud & all getting on? I cannot write to them as I have no paper so do not forget to send me some it is very scarce about here I can assure I bought plenty out here but lost it some how or other. Does Nell have those fainting fits now? I hope not. I hope Irene is well how I should like to see you all again.
Well dearest keep smiling & hope for the best I shall soon be home never to go away no more. Well I must close now as I am going on duty again, so with the fondest of love & kisses I will always remain
Your ever loving husband Fred
You know my address by the first letter.”
In his next letter Fred first mentioned illness”
My dearest own Florry,
Just a few lines to you hoping you are quite well. As it leaves me except for diarrhoea & that do make you fell queer as you have such violent pains in the stomach there is a lot of it in the regiment it is caused by the water. It is so sandy except for this I am quite alright only wish I could get home again.
How are you all at home getting on have you anyone billeted with you. Now I hope so to help you on a bit. I hope to have a bit of money when I get home as we do not draw any out here & I have not drawn any since the 4th Aug. I do wish I could see you all again I take your letters out & read them two & three times a day whenever I get the chance.
I do hope you will not get any more Zeppelins over Chelmsford again but I do not want you upset like that. How is my little dutch Irene getting on? Has she got those fag cards I sent? I wrote a little letter all on her own last mail. I hope she will get it. I cadge the pictures off the chaps so I can send them to her, bless her heart
How is Mr Missing getting on. Tell him to get some scrapers made for me as I shall want them before long. Well dear I do not think I have any more to say this time so with the fondest of love & kisses I will close & remain your ever loving Husband xxxxxx Fred xxxxxxx
kisses for my xxxxxx
little sweet xxxxxx.”
His continuing sickness was apparent in his next letter:
My dearest own Florry,
Just a little to add to my letter. I have still the back door trots & it makes me feel very weak. Last night we were soaked to the skins blankets overcoats & it went right through to our shirts oh it was lovely with your trousers full of water but still that’s only half your luck, it sort of dampens your spirit you know. But still we soon got dry this morning I do not feel any the worse for it. There is plenty of shrapnel flying about & plenty of snipers at work. I should think they will soon give me a rest we have been on the go ever since we landed & we are all feeling the effects of it more or less but still we go about in good spirit you know laughing & joking sometimes we have a little sing song. We had a issue of beef today it was a treat quite a change from bully.
I do hope this war will be over by Christmas so as I am home for Christmas dinner I have been cooking for the bearers today & they were very pleased with the dinner. I make a good stew with the beef, I had some onions & dried & half dozen cubes of OXO what we had saved with our emergency rations that I had not used so I do not think It was so bad.
Well darling I do not think I have any more to tell you & we are getting ready to go out with the stretchers again I do hope there is no one to bring in, a stretcher bearer life is not a pleasant one as he does see some sights & no mistake, so now with fondest love & kisses I will always remain your ever loving husband Fred xxxxx
I am wanting for an issue of envelopes I have found a few sheets of paper.
kisses for Irene xxxxxx
keep the home fire burning while your heart yearning; though your Fred be far away he dreams of you; there's a silver lining through the dark clouds shining; turn the the dark clouds inside out till your Fred comes home
Farewell & good luck
I shall soon come back
Fred’s following letter showed his illness was continuing:
My own dearest Florry,
Just a few lines while I have got a few moments to myself except for the flies they stick to us like glue. I hope dear you & all are quite well. I am pretty fair myself bar the back door trots & I cannot get rid of it. How I wish I was at home with you dear sometimes I think it will not be long & other times it seems it will never end.
Well darling I never forget you for one moment & I write to you every time I get the chance as I know how anxious you are, your ought to see my little dug out it is on the side of a hill I've cut it out about 3ft deep, then it is banked up on top with sand bags & for a roof we have two waterproof sheets laced together to keep the wind off & incase it rains. It is not so bad but the feathers have got hard & it makes your hips sore but any shelter is better than none dear in these places. You ought to hear our naval guns they do not half rattle from one hill to another it seems quite five minutes before you hear the last echo. Then there is our artillery banging you can hardly here yourself think & of course the Turks or (alla allas) send their usual quantity over & what their & sniper it not quite a lovely time.
Well darling if you send anything out to me do not send a big lot as it is only a waste of money but send a small lot by letter post it costs about 5d or 6d. It is quite enough as there was a parcel mail yesterday & some of the things were mouldy & send them in a tin box. Should I like a nice cup of cocoa now. It is all tea out here of course. We are all thankful for that but a change would be delightful.
How is little Irene getting on? I should have like to have seen her with the pencil & paper. Tell her her daddy is always longing to see her again to play with her. Bless her. Well darling I don’t think I have anymore to say this time so with fondest love & kisses I will close & remain your ever loving & devoted husband
kisses for Irene. xxxxxxxxx.”
Fred’s battalion had a difficult time in Gallipoli, making little progress against the Turkish Army. Its numbers were heavily depleted by a combination of death from combat and from disease. The 161st (Essex) Brigade (of which the battalion was a part) suffered considerably from illness - in September 15 officers and 673 other ranks were admitted to hospital from the brigade. Fred was one of that number.
Fred was born on 23rd October 1877 at 84 High Street, Chelmsford, the son of the upholster Ebenezer Tyler and Fanny Tyler (nee Holder). His father had been born in Chelmsford in 1830; his mother c1838 in Offham, Sussex. They had married in on 10th February 1863 in Wye, Kent and in 1871 had been resident in the High Street, Chelmsford.
Fred’s siblings included: Mark William Tyler (born in 1864), Alice H. Tyler (born in 1866), Lydia Tyler (born in 1867), and Albert Ebenezer Tyler (born in 1871). They were all born at Chelmsford.
The censuses of 1881, 1891 and 1901 all recorded Fred living with his parents at 84 High Street, Chelmsford. In 1881 they were accompanied by Fred’s four elder siblings and paternal grandfather. Fred’s father was an upholster and master undertaker, his mother was local primitive Methodist preacher and his grandfather was former tailor and woollen draper.
In 1891 the household included Fred, his parents, two sisters and elder brother Albert who was a cabinet maker. Fred was a scholar; his father an upholsterer. The 1901 census found Fred, aged 23 employed as a hall porter. His 71 year-old father still ran his upholsterer’s business.
He married Florence Jane Whent (born in 1882) in Chelmsford on 20th December 1903 at the Chelmsford Register Office. At the time of the 1901 census she had been employed as a kitchen maid at the White Hart Hotel in Conduit Street, Chelmsford (now Tindal Street), close to Fred’s home in the High Street.
Fred and Florence lived at 19 Regina Road, Chelmsford (now demolished) and were listed there in street directories of 1910 and 1913. The 1911 census also listed the couple there, accompanied by Fred’s
widowed 81 year-old father (an upholsterer undertaker), Fred’s 47 year-old widowed brother (an army pensioner and clerk) and Florence’s 13 year-old sister Ellen Francis Whent. Fred was a machinist at Hoffmann’s ball-bearings factory in Chelmsford. A neighbour at the time, two doors away, was Ernest Theodore White who also lost his life in the war.
Fred’s father died that year, and his death was recorded by the Essex County Chronicle on 21st April 1911:
“Mr. E. Tyler, a well-known and respected Wesleyan local preacher, died on Sunday, aged 81, at the residence of his son in Victoria-road. The deceased was the oldest member of the Wesleyan Church in Chelmsford, and in many an Essex village his fluent speaking was very popular. His last service was at the Mission Chapel at Danbury at Christmas. Here he was seized with a paralytic stroke, and from this he never recovered. By trade Mr. Tyler was a cabinet maker and at one time he carried on an extensive business where the Prudential offices now are. He leaves two sons and two daughters.”
Fred’s father was subsequently buried at the London Road Cemetery in Chelmsford following a service which Fred attended.
The following year, on 7th December 1912, Fred and Florence’s daughter Florence Irene Tyler, usually known as ‘Irene’, was born at 19 Regina Road. She was baptised at St. Mary’s Church, Chelmsford on 18th January 1913. At the time Fred’s profession was recorded as ‘engineer.
Fred enlisted at Chelmsford into the 1/5th Battalion of the Essex Regiment, serving as Private 403 in D Company. He was a member of the band. The battalion was a Territorial unit formed in 1908 with its headquarters in Market Road, Chelmsford, and it consequently contained many Chelmsford men who were to lose their lives in the war. Fred is believed to have joined the Territorial battalion at its formation in 1908, having probably previously been an ‘Old Volunteer’ fron the pre-Territorial days. The term ‘territorial’ indicated that the volunteers such as Fred who served with the battalion were under no obligation to serve overseas, with their focus on home defence, but many like him agreed to serve abroad after the declaration of war on 4th August 1914.
At the outbreak of the war Fred’s battalion and the other three Territorial battalions that formed the Essex Brigade were half way through their fortnight’s annual training at Clacton. On 3rd August 1914, the day before war was declared, Fred’s battalion was initially ordered back to Chelmsford, but that was countermanded and the battalion marched for Dovercourt that afternoon. The following day mobilization papers were issued to all ranks and the battalion was alloted part of a pre-arranged defensive line west of Dovercourt.
On 9th August 1914 the battalion was sent to Brentwood. It did not stay there long, moving to north-east Norfolk by the end of the month. On 10th March 1915 Fred’s brother Martin, who had rejoined the army in October 1914 to serve in the Army Service Corps, wrote to Fred’s wife:
“My dear Flo,
I have not written to you for a long time because I thought that you ought to have acknowledged my last letter, which I wrote in January last & which I asked if you for Fred's address. I have not written to Fred nor he to me since I re-joined. & now I believe he is going to Egypt.
Well I am pleased to hear that you are all well at home except poor old Jim. But of course he is going on as well as can be expected. I am pleased to say that all is well with me, but I shall be glad when it is over to get back again. I will send you another present this month, so that you can get little Irene something for me. I have not had a letter from anybody at home since December, but letters have & do go astray between England & here, but it seems funny that so many should be lost. I will write to Jim tomorrow in answer to his received to-day, which was a very nice letter. I see he speaks of Nell rather broadly, but I can't say that I like it, but I will write to him about it tomorrow, he is of age & must please himself.
The weather is improving very much here now, & I fancy it will be grand here in the summer months, I am thinking very seriously of going to Canada after this show is over but have not finally made up my mind at present.
Now I must close with fond love to yourself
Rene, Frank & my boy Jim & to Nell.
I remain your affectionate Brother Mark.”
In April 1915 the 1/5th Battalion of the Essex Regiment moved to West Bergholt. From there Fred wrote home to his wife, apparently thinking he would be going to Flanders, not Egypt as had been suggested by his brother:
“My own Darling Florry,
Just a few lines to you hoping to find you all quite well as it leaves me at present. Have you sent my belt yet? If not dear send it as soon as possible or I shall get in trouble. Well darling we have got our orders from the war office. The Essex Brigade to be in readiness to move off at any time for duty across the seas. They came yesterday morning while we were at church & the Colonel read the telegram out to us then we gave three cheers. Of course it’s all business now as we expect to go with the next division. Dan & all my billet mates are at Bury. We expect them back tomorrow or Wednesday. The Brigade headquarter staff leave Colchester for Belgium on Saturday so I suppose that is where we shall go.
I went & saw mother & the rest yesterday afternoon. They all wished to be remembered to you. Tell Jimmy Lillies banns are not up yet.
Well darling I do not think I have any more to say this time but will write to you & Jimmy again as soon as I hear anything fresh. Now do not worry darling I feel sure I shall come back safe & sound. But there I hope to see you again before we go. Tell Jimmy to buck up & write I say roll on Thursday so as I can get some pay. I was to have followed the others on to Bury but the adjutant said that he did not think it necessary to send any more on so I am in the orderly room checking off the register of services.
Now with fondest love & kisses
I will always remain your loving husband
xxxxx Fred xxxx Kisses from the children xxxxxx.”
In the middle of May 1915 Fred and his battalion transferred to St. Alban’s in Hertfordshire. As Fred had recorded in his letter by then the battalion, along with three other Essex Territorial battalions formed the 161st (Essex) Brigade in the 54th (East Anglian) Division. The majority of the period since the outbreak of the war had been spent training in expectation of foreign service. Fred sent the following letter to his wife from St. Alban’s.
“My My own Darling Florry,
Just a few lines to you in answer to your welcome letter I received yesterday. You must forgive me for sending you a post card but I wanted to catch the post & I had no paper so the landlady gave me a PC. Did you get the pencil alright? Don't forget to send Dan’s photo with the pants. We have a night out this week, we started Thursday dinner time & got back about half past six last night pretty nearly dead beat as we had to fight our way in to St Albans. The stretcher had to pick up the casualties so we had plenty to do.
Well darling I was pleased to hear Nelly was a little better but was very sorry to hear about poor mother but I have been expecting this bad news for a long time. Now darling how is your leg getting on? Do try & rest it as much as you can darling for my sake as I know painful it is. I shall try & come home again shortly. I am going to try & get another three days next week but I do not know how I shall get on. Now darling let me know how mother goes on won’t you dear? Well darling how is little Irene getting on. Is she getting over it now?
Now darling I will close with the fondest of love & kisses
I will always remain your ever loving husband
xxxxxxx Fred xxxxxx
Kisses for Irene
In June 1915 Fred and Florry’s three and a half year-old adoptive son, Frank WIlliam Spooner, died at Chelmsford & Essex Hospital from shock from extensive scalds on his body. Two days earlier he had been playing in the yard of 19 Regina Road when a Mrs. Missing called for a pail of hot water which was placed just outside the back door for a minute, when the youngster fell partly into the pail. Mrs. Missing immediately undressed him and applied linseed oil and wrapped him in a blanket. He was taken to the hospital where the injuries were dressed, but that could not prevent his death.
On 10th July 1915 Fred’s brother Mark wrote from Le Harve in France to Fred’s wife:
“My Dear Flo,
I received your registered letter dated 7th July 1915 last night and I can assure you that this is the first letter I have received from England for nearly 5 months. I have written several times to Mr Meadows but have received no reply, and Jim also tells me that he has written but can get no reply.
I have applied for 5 days leave to England & hope to hear about it in the course of a few days. I am pleased to hear that you are keeping well with all your trouble and loss, poor little Frankie I cannot help thinking of him, never mind dear chin up, it is all for the best. We could have hoped for a less painful ending to so young a life, but such is fate. We never know what may happen from one day to another, that is why I always say that we are as safe here as in a parlour at home.
I certainly should like to see some of the wasters at home come out here and do a bit, Of course we do not see any of the fighting, but we have to work hard & very long hours, but it has to be done, and everybody here is doing it cheerfully. Naturally we shall be glad to see the end of it all, but not till we have come out victorious, Oh! let it be soon. Well how is little Irene, going on I hope she is keeping well she must be getting a big girl now? Kiss her for me. Give my kind regards to Mr & Mrs Meadows & to Mrs Judge and tell them I hope to be home shortly. Give my love to Ernie & Emily. Are they still in Kent also to Nell & all the family. I hope your mother & Nell are better. How are your legs now, I hope they are better? Now girl cheer up, till we meet in the sweet.
Bye & Bye & with fond love I remain your loving brother Mark.”
Meanwhile Fred’s battalion left St. Alban’s and travelled to Devonport by train. On the night of departure from St Alban’s Fred sent a short message on a postcard to his wife:
“My Dear Florry,
Just a line to let you know we are going off tonight. I am writing today only I wanted you to know. I expect a letter today. Dear cheer up.
With much love from loving husband Fred.”
From Devonport the battalion departed England on board the S.S. Grampian on 23rd July 1915. Whilst awaiting departure and from on board the ship Fred sent a postcard to his wife that day, postmarked 1:15 p.m.:
I am alright. Just off. Hope you got home alright. Remember me to Mark. I will write as soon as I can.
With Love, Fred.”
On departure from England Fred’s battalion had a somewhat depleted strength of 29 officers and 649 other ranks. Its ultimate destination was to be Gallipoli, Turkey to join the Allied forces participating in the campaign against the Turks which had started on 25th April 1915.
Stops were made at Malta and Alexandria in Egypt, before sailing to Mudros Bay on the small Greek island of Lemnos. From there the battalion sailed towards Gallipoli, transferred to flat-bottomed boats and were put ashore at A Beach, Suvla Bay on 9th August 1915 as reinforcements to troops that had landed there over the previous three days. Letters sent by Fred from Gallipoli paint a moving picture of his time there:
The day before landing Fred had written the following letter home to his wife:
“My Dearest Florry,
Just a few lines to you hoping all are quite well as this leaves me at present...[Censored]...We are not allowed to put anything much in our letters & I cannot let you know where I am dear but rest assured I shall write every opportunity I get. I shall be glad to get back again to be with you.
Kiss Irene for me won’t you & will you send me a paper every week I should like to hear the news. I am longing for a letter from you it seems ages since I heard from you. And now with fondest love & kisses I will always remain your loving husband 403 Fred.”
On 17th August 1915 Fred wrote to his wife once again, this time from on board a ship:
“My Dearest Florry,
Just a few lines to you to let you know that I am getting on very well indeed, we are somewhere in the sea now there is no land at all.
I hope dear you are quite well & also little Irene. We are living very well indeed on board the food is good plenty of it. I have been a good sailor up to now I have not been sick yet nor have I been queer. I have not much news this time as there is nothing to see or hear on board I will write again when we land. I do not know when that will be but if you write to me when you get this I shall not have so long to wait to know how you are getting on.
Remember me to missing & Whiffen Parish tell them I am all...[paper torn and missing]...
Your ever loving husband Fred xxxx
kisses for Irene
In an undated letter to his wife Fred wrote from Gallipoli soon after arrival:
“My Dearest Florry,
Just a few lines to you hoping you are quite well & all at home the same. I am pleased to say I am quite well & safe up to the present & getting quite use to shrapnel etc. I am a stretcher bearer...[censored]... as you know my destination.
I am longing for a letter from you & will you please send me some paper to write with. Give my kind regards to Tom Missing. Remember me to Emily, Ernie, Wal , Maud & Nell. & how is my little Irene I do hope she is alright. Do not forget to write soon as I want to hear all the news.
Now Dearest with fondest love & kisses I must close as I am going out again on duty I will write again as soon as I can.
I will remain Your loving husband 403 Fred Tyler
Kiss little Irene For me xxx
Farewell for the present.”
In another undated letter sent to his wife Fred wrote:
My own Dearest Florry,
Just a few hurried lines to you in answer to your most welcome letter I received this morning. It was a pleasure & make no mistake I have been patient waiting for this for a long time it was not your fault darling I know because I am about 4,000 miles away from you now but my heart is with you just the same.
Keep this letter with the address in your hand as we must not give any address. Now dear if you have destroyed it just put name & number & regiment c/o G P.O. London that will find me I think.
Well darling I was so sorry to hear about your leg I do wish it would get better. I am glad to so say I am safe up to the present. I hope & wish I shall come through alright. Our food consists of Biscuits, Bully Beef, farm Tea, sugar & condensed milk & occasionally Rice & Prunes. So we do not do so bad but I would like a piece of bread for a change.
Well darling when we go to a rest camp probably I shall be able to get some of the Post Cards you mention I will send some on to you but there is nothing here at all only hills. It is very cold at night you would hardly believe it. I took my boots off last night the first time for a fortnight & had a wash & shave this morning that was the second wash in a fortnight so you see how we are off for water. I cannot write anymore now Flo this is all the paper I have got.
With the fondest love & kisses I will always remain
Your ever loving husband
xxxx Fred xxxx
kisses for Irene xxx love to all.”
In a further short letter he wrote:
“My Dearest Florry,
Just a few lines to you to let you I am alright & sincerely hope you & all are the same. I hope I shall have a letter soon but I expect I shall have to wait a little longer. I am still in 5th Essex Reg...[Censored]...with the Bhoys...[Censored]...Now dear remember me to all in Regina Rd & Marriages Sq, Now dear you will find the only address I can give if you read through the lines write soon now I must close as I have to go to duty again.
So with the fondest love & kisses I will remain your loving husband Fred.
403 Pte F.J. Tyler.”
In another letter to his daughter he wrote:
Just a few lines to you from Daddy hoping your quite well. I am sending some more pictures. I hope I shall soon be with you. So with fond love & kisses from your daddy. xxxxxxx.”
He subsequently wrote:
My own dearest Florry,
I have just received your most welcome letter & one from Emily. Now dear I do not want you to upset yourself too much because I am alright & I am sure I shall come back alright.
I am pleased to tell you & Mrs Clark that Walter is quite safe & still with the regiment as I was speaking to him yesterday so tell her not to worry but send him a letter. He was asking me if I had heard from home because he had not & could not make it out. Did they publish our list in the Weekly News? I dare say they are making a little fuss of us now but they did do much for us when we were at home.
I shall be thankful to get home again but I want to see the finish of it. I do not think this war can last much longer. I am pleased to hear little Irene is well & I hope she has got my letter alright. Tell Nell she would hardly know me now especially when I have got nine or ten days beard on. Give my kind regards to all enquiring friends & tell them I am going strong & I’m not downhearted yet.
Well cheer up dear & do not worry I shall come back alright.
So now with fondest love & kisses I will close & remain your ever loving husband
I am writing to Emily tomorrow.”
In a later letter there were signs that he was having a tough time in Gallipoli:
My own dearest Florry,
Just a few lines to you sincerely hoping you are quite well as it leaves me at present. I wonder when I shall get a letter from you dear? I do hope by the next mail. We had a mail in last Sunday but there was none for me. I did not really expect one as you had hardly got my letter from the boat. I have written five times so you might to be having some of them now.
We are living as well as can be expected under the circumstances in dugouts. It is very hilly here
His sickness developed into enteric fever, a gastrointestinal condition caused by a bacterial infection and on 27th September 1915 he was sent to a Hospital Ship, ‘H.S. Gascon’. On 3rd October 1915 a chaplin on the ship sent news of his admittance to his wife:
3rd October 1915
Dear Mrs Tyler,
Your Husband has asked me to write to you He has been sent on to this hospital ship with enteric fever & though he is going on as well as can be expected he is weak & not well enough to write himself. He will do so as soon as he can & let you know what hospital he is in. Till then it will be best to write to the old address.
He sends kisses to his little girl
yours truly RN Beasly.”
Two days later Chaplain Beasley wrote once again to Mrs. Tyler, this time with tragic news:
“H M Hospital Ship Gascon
5th Oct 1915
Dear Mrs Tyler,
I am very sorry to have to write and tell you that your husband died on this ship at 11.30 p.m. last night of Enteric Fever (Typhoid), He came onto this boat on the 27th Sept at Anzac, Gallipoli. He was buried at sea on its way from Malta to Gibraltar where the patients are to be left.
He was buried with the Church of England service which is I hope what you would wish. His personal belongings will be sent to you in due course although I am a complete stranger to you will you accept my sympathy in your great trouble. I will try and pray for you. I know he has a little girl he spoke of her affectionately. You will find a in ill in his pay book & as of course you know I believe by means of his pay book you will be able to get any pay due to him
Gods great his eternal trust
Yours truly RN. Beasley Chaplain H.M.H.S, Gascon
P.S. The enclosed letter was [illegible] for him on Sunday. But we have not been at any port to post it as yet.
Fred was buried at sea and is commemorated at Helles Memorial in Gallipoli, Turkey, on the Civic Centre Memorial, Chelmsford and on the Hoffmann Manufacturing Company’s War Memorial at Chelmsford Cathedral. He was entitled to the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, and Victory Medal.
On 22nd October 1915 the Essex Weekly News reported:
“Pte. F. Tyler, 5th Essex, formerly a member of the band and for several years groundsman for the Chelmsford Football Club, has died of enteric. He was on board ship at the time on the way to hospital, and was buried at sea.”
Several letters of condolence were received by Fred’s widow.
Her sister Alice wrote:
“2 The Terrace
To dear Florry,
We were very sorry to get the sad news this morning of poor Fred and I beg you to accept our heartfelt sympathies at this sad trouble which as come to you and your dear little girl.
We should very much like to hear all particulars when you feel able, and I should like a photo of him if you have one. I have not a single photo of one of my people, I've a little one though when we saw him on the front at Clacton that this church was so near. Every home seems full of trouble. My youngest son is in France serving with the Essex Yeomanry he was in this last great attack but came through safe, but we feel as anxious about [remainder of page missing] & tell us how we are placed I must close now with kind love from us all.
I remain your affectionate, sister Alice.”
On 14th November 1915 her sister wrote:
“291 St Clarew Ave
My dear Florry,
Your letter with the terrible sad news in reached me last night – poor Florry ! it must indeed have been a great shock for you, to know that poor old Fred was taken away from you and little Irene and that you would never see him again.
I hardly know how to write to you about it for somehow I never seem able to say it in a letter all I feel about everything, but I do know this that Fred was very very fond of you, and whenever he has written to me he always said what a good wife you were to him, and I am sure he must have loved his little girl. How I should like to see her.
We often talk about you all and wonder what you all are all doing and now I am wondering what you are going to do. Do you get anything from the government for yourself and little Irene? I wish you would write to me and let me know. Oh! This terrible war, all our best men taken out to lose their lives for that German Emperor.
Have you written to Alice or heard from her at all. Of course you know she never writes to me in fact I often feel as if everybody over there had clean forgotten about me. It was very kind and nice of the Chaplain to write and tell you about poor Fred's death, and burial at sea. That is a terribly hard thing for you not to be able to see his grave, but dear try and bear up for the sake of the little girl, (does she remember her Dad?). Of course she cannot realise what has happened to him sometime when you are not busy I wish you would copy the chaplains letter and send it to me, I should so like to read what he said about poor Fred.
Frank and Sid send their love, and told me to tell you how truly sorry they are for you in your trouble. Have you heard from Jim lately? It is quite a while since he wrote me and I was wondering whether he is alright for one never knows in this war what is happening.
Well dear Florrie I think this is all for this time only I want you to try not to give way too much! I don't seem able to realise it, it don't seem true to me. Frank & Sid join with me in love and kisses to little Irene and with the deepest sympathy to yourself
From your loving & affectionate sister Lyd
xxxxxxxxxxx kisses for you and Irene.”
On 1st January 1916 the London Gazette reported that Fred’s brother Martin, who served in the Army Service Corps, had been mentioned in dispatches.
Fred’s widow remarried in 1918, to Walter Henry Clarke. She remained at 19 Regina Road, had a son, and died in 1931. Fred’s daughter Florence later married Henry Thomas Dixon (1907-1978), had two children, and died in 2008.