Fred Gregory Bampton was born in 1891, the third of four children born to John Robert Bampton and his wife Jane Maria nee Gregory who married in 1884. The family appear in the 1891 census living at 1 York Place, Chalvey (which is now a suburb of Slough). Listed were John Bampton (aged 27, hammerman in iron works), his wife Jane (29) and their children Mary (6), Clarence (4) and an unnamed son 1month old (this was Fred). The children were all born in Chalvey.
In 1901 the family consisted of John Bampton (37, a smith), Jane (39), Mary (16), Clarence (14), Fred (10) and Corrie (a son, 8 months old). Their address is given as 5 York Place, Chalvey.
The 1911 census shows Jane (49), Clarence (24, a carter in a gravel pit), Fred (20, a naval servant) and Corrie (10) at 5 York Cottages, Church St, Chalvey. The words “husband away” are written on the census return. The family were living in 4 rooms.
When the first world was declared in August 1914, Fred was aged 23. He volunteered to join the army and was sent to France, arriving on 28 April 1915 as part of the 3rd Reserve Battalion of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry. He was wounded twice but returned to active service with the 1st/4th Battalion.
Fred was killed in action on 15 February 1917 aged 25. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission website records that he was a Private in the 1st/4th Battalion of the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry at the time of his death. The War Diary of his unit is held in the National Archives at Kew. It says that the Battalion was providing brigade support 1500 yards East of Flaucourt on 15 February 1917. Flaucourt is a village about 4 miles West of the town of Peronne and was on ground gained by the French Army in 1916 during the Battle of the Somme. The war diary reads
“9.30am : Several hostile aeroplanes over, which were “strafed” by our Lewis Guns
10.15am : Shelling of neighbourhood of Battalion HQ commenced. This continued, without cessation till 1pm being particularly fierce for about the first ¾ of an hour. Several hundred shells were fired, principally 15cm Hows (Howitzers). Several direct hits scored on dugouts occupied by Bt HQ & C Coy (Company), also on a dump of French bombs on the road close by. Casualties killed 2Lt B.VOKES – from a shell which burst just outside entrance to C Coy’s HQ & 1 O.R.(Other Ranks) Wounded 5 O.R.”
In the margin it says “2Lt B.VOKES C Coy killed, 235012 Pte BAMPTON D Coy killed”. The names of the 5 wounded men are also given.
Fred is buried in the Hem Farm Military Cemetery, Hem-Monacu, which is about 3 miles North of Flaucourt. The cemetery contains nearly 600 dead from the 1914-18 war. It was enlarged after the armistice by moving dead from small burial grounds nearby. One of these was the Achille British Cemetery, Flaucourt on a trench about 1 kilometres East of Flaucourt. This was in use in February 1917 and was probably where Fred was initially buried. Hem Farm cemetery is in a peaceful position surrounded by fields, just outside the village of Hem-Monacu and near the River Somme. Fred’s gravestone says “235012 Private / F G Bampton / Oxford & Bucks Light Inf / 15th February 1917 Age 24.”
The following item appeared in the Deaths section of the Slough, Eton and Windsor Observer dated 10 March 1917 :
“BAMPTON. – On February 15th, Fred Gregory Bampton, late Private 2nd Oxford and Bucks L.I., son of Mr and Mrs Bampton of 5 York Place, Chalvey, who was killed in action, aged 25 years.
No mother or father to see him die
No sister or brother to say “Goodbye”,
No friends or relations to grasp his hand,
But we all hope to meet in that better land.”
The medal card of Fred G Bampton records that he was awarded the Victory Medal, British Medal and 1915 Star. The first two of these medals were given to all British soldiers who fought in WW1. The 1915 Star was only awarded to those who fought in 1915 (those who joined when conscription was introduced in 1916 did not receive it).
Fred’s name is recorded on the war memorials at St Peter’s Church in Chalvey, St Mary’s Church in Slough and Kingsway United Reformed Church in Slough.
A further item was printed in Slough, Eton and Windsor Observer on the second anniversary of Fred’s death :
“BAMPTON. – In ever loving memory of my dear son, Pte. Fred Gregory Bampton, late 2nd Oxford and Bucks L.I., who was killed in action Feb 15th, 1917.
It’s sweet to think we’ll meet again
Where troubles are no more
And that the one we loved so dear
Has just gone on before
Thy purpose, Lord, we cannot see,
But all is well that’s done by Thee.
Two years has passed, we miss his loving smile
Our hearts are aching, yet a little while
And we shall meet within the golden gate
God comfort us – God help us – while we wait
From his loving Mum, Dad, Sister and Brothers”