On this day in 1918, Frederick ‘Fred’ John Discombe (1894-1918) died from pneumonia in the Great War.
He was a lance-corporal in the 1st Battalion of the King’s Royal Rifles when he died in hospital in France on February 28, 1918. He was 23.
Fred, who first went to France in August 1914, is commemorated at the Rocquigny-Equancourt Road British Cemetery in Manancourt, France.
Born in Sandford, Devon in 1894, he was the son of Francis Discombe (1842-1920) and Mary Parker (1863-1917).
A year before his lost his life, Fred attended the funeral in Sandford of his mother who died on February 8, 1917, aged 53.
The family faced further tragedy when Fred’s younger sister, Fannie Louise, died in 1918, when she was just 17.
Fred was a nephew of Lewis Discombe (1857-1915), a blacksmith, who for many years ran the Ironworks in Copplestone, near Crediton. Three of Lewis’s five sons – who met for the first time in 11 years when he died in 1915 – served in the Great War. A fourth was discharged from the King’s Royal Rifles after suffering an injury in an accident while on duty.
The four who served were:
- Lewis Discombe Jnr (1881-1950), who was a private in No 2 Company of the National Army Reserves. Lewis enlisted on October 23, 1914 and served in the Labour Corps. He was discharged on April 12, 1919 and awarded the Silver War Badge for sickness;
- William James Discombe (1878-1943), who was a sergeant in the Devon Army Recruitment Office in Crediton;
- James Brewer Discombe (1887-1952), who was a farrier in the Army Veterinary Corps;
- Thomas Discombe (1895-1948), who briefly served as a rifleman in the 10th Battalion of the King’s Royal Rifles in the Great War (regimental number 1745). Thomas was 19 when he enlisted on September 4, 1914. He was discharged as ‘medically unfit’ just 27 days later. He was said to have ‘loose cartilage in his knee’ after suffering an accident while on duty.
The daughter of Lewis Discombe (1857-1915), Ellen Fanny Discombe (1883-1965) married Frederick Townsend (1881-1945) in 1909 in Crediton. Frederick was the son of William Richard Townsend (1859-1935) and Jane Turner (1860-1930). William’s sister, Ellen Townsend (1872-) married George Martin (1868-1948) in 1895 in South Molton. George was the son of Charlotte Arscott (1836-1906) and George Martin Snr (1841-1912). Charlotte was the daughter of Hugh Arscott (1809-1878), the brother of John Arscott (1807-1879), my great-great grandfather.
Fred’s grave in France. Photo on Find a Grave by Len, of Chelmsford, Essex.