13 March 2009


Just the one anniversary today.

My grandfather Frederick William Pates was born today in 1885 in Biggleswade, eldest son of John & Sarah. By 1901 he was a market gardener's labourer and, in 1911, a general labourer.

He served with the Royal Engineers during the Great War, arriving in Egypt on 6 September 1915. Apparently his unit worked with an Australian unit and there's a picture in an Australian War Museum of him, wearing an aussie slouch hat, perched on a camel. (I had to think about that sentence to make sure that the camel wasn't wearing the hat!) Obviously I've never seen the picture and, somehow, I've never felt confident that the description would get me far towards identifying it, even if I add ". . . . well, there was a pyramid in the background."

This is a photograph (well, obviously) of a genre which was very popular at the time, with the soldier (in this case Frederick William himself) and his sweetheart's image in the background. He came back to the UK in early 1919 and married my grandmother on 6th June that year. I also have a copy of their wedding photograph and, my word, there's some ladies in there that you wouldn't want to argue with!!

I never met him, as he died just after I was born. He is buried in Biggleswade cemetery.

Onwards . . . . I should be doing something else but I couldn't miss his birthday.

No comments: