Soldier made a will on the battlefield
Following our article about Warwickshire Royal Horse Artillery soldiers killed in the First World War, we can tell the story of one Leamington man who survived.
Dr Mike Holmes has written about his grandfather Frederick William Doodey, who was badly wounded at Ypres and had to have a leg amputated.
Mike says: “Fred was a ‘Brummie’. He was born at in Birmingham in 1887. He was the son of a master butcher but was raised by an aunt following the early demise of his mother after the birth of his sister in 1893.
“By 1901 they were living as a family in Ladywood, Birmingham. At that same address was a lodger, Miss Sophie Heaven, also an orphan of the wider family. Fred was working as a cycle tyre canvas cutter and Sophie was a warehouse clerk. They were married in June 1911. Their first son, also named Frederick William, was born in June 1912.
“Around this time they moved to 15 Barratt Place, Rugby Road, Leamington. It was here that two further children arrived, a daughter Gwen,in 1915, and a second son Raymond in 1916.
“It is not known what Fred did for a living at the time but I believe he was probably an upholsterer. I have heard mention of a Dunlop factory but I do not know where this was.
“At the outset of the First World War he enlisted in the TA and was posted to service in 2nd/1st Battery of the Warwickshire Royal Horse Artillery. I don’t know when he enlisted or what or where his early training was but his records give him as a ‘saddler’.
“There is a photograph of him in uniform on horseback, which may have been on Salisbury Plain prior his departure to the battle in France.
“Given that he was wounded in 1917, it seems probable that this photo was in 1917.
“I also have a picture of him and ten fellow soldiers standing in the front of a barn relaxing.
“The next record I have is the ‘will’ page from his record book in which he leaves his all to my grandmother. He wrote the will on July 20, the day before he was wounded. It is weather-beaten and rain-spotted but quite legible.
“I believe he was evacuated to a hospital in Rouen in France where his right leg was amputated and the damage to his left leg treated. As yet I know nothing of his further time in army service other than that he was discharged eventually in 1921.”
Mike, who lives in Worcester, says he has fond memories of his grandfather. He remembers him picking shrapnel out of his one leg. He has a picture of him with his grandmother outside a bell tent in his wheelchair cum “trike” which was known as his chariot when Mike was a lad. Fred died in 1945.
Mike would like to find out more about Fred Doodey’s service in the Royal Horse Artillery.
If anyone has information about Fred Doodey in the WRHA, please email peter.gawthorpe@ leamingtoncourier.co.uk
Pictured: Fred Doodey in a wheelchair with his family and relaxing with fellow soldiers.
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Monday 20 May 2013
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