Frederick William Bamford, Sapper 4152, Royal Engineers
Died of wounds 22nd January 1920 in Macclesfield, aged 43
Frederick William Bamford was baptised on 30 September 1877 at St Michael’s Church, Macclesfield, the son of Annie (nee Oldham) and Charles Bamford, a silk weaver. In 1881, four-year-old Frederick (known in the family as Fred) was living at 10 Court, House 3, King Edward Street, Macclesfield with his parents and one-year-old sister Laura. Ten years later the family had moved to 24 Hayes Yard (off King Edward Street) and also included Minnie (8), George Edward (5), Percy (3) and Frank (1); Fred was employed as a labourer.
By 1901 the family had moved to 36 Hayes Yard; the family included three more children, Charles (9), Arthur (6) and Gertrude (3), and Fred had joined the Anglesey Militia (Royal Engineers). Ten years later in 1911 the family was at the same address and included another child, Annie Victoria, aged 9; Fred must have completed his full-time service with the militia and was then employed as a bricklayers labourer.
Fred was probably still a reservist and was recalled for service by the Royal Engineers soon after war broke out in August 1914. He was drafted to France about three months later and was wounded in the head on 31 December 1914. Repatriated to England, Sapper Bamford underwent treatment in hospital at Plymouth for several months before returning home to Macclesfield.
Sapper Bamford was discharged from the Army on 18 June 1915, being unfit for further service, as the head wound caused him to suffer from epileptic fits. A silver war badge, number 236981, was awarded on 22 August 1917; the record notes that Sapper Bamford enlisted on 2 August 1908.
Sapper Bamford died in Macclesfield on 22 January 1920. An inquest into his death was reported in the Macclesfield Advertiser on 30 January 1920:
MACCLESFIELD EX-SOLDIER’S DEATH – DUE TO EPILEPSY CAUSED BY WOUNDS
On Friday the District Coroner (Mr H C Yates) held an inquest at the Macclesfield Town Hall with reference to the death of Frederick William Bamford (43), an ex-soldier, who resided with his parents at York Cottage, Church Side.
Annie, wife of Charles Bamford, said the deceased was a single man, formerly a cab driver, and was a reservist in the Anglesey Militia (Royal Engineers). He was mobilised in August 1914, and three months later was drafted to France, where he sustained a shrapnel wound to the head on December 31, 1914. He was invalided to England, and three or four months later, on being discharged from a Plymouth hospital, he came to Macclesfield and lived with her at York Cottage. Since then he had been subject to epileptic fits, for which he had received medical treatment, being last attended by Dr Bradley. On December 17, 1919, he was ordered to attend before the Medical Board at Stockport. He did so, and was told he would be supplied with a silver skull cap, but he must wait until he was sent for. He had, however, never received any further notification. On Wednesday, the 21st inst, he left home about 11 o’clock in the forenoon, but did not say where he was going or when he would return. The following morning witness heard he was seriously ill at 3 Albert Street. She went there at once, and on arrival found him dead.
Ada Davenport, of 3 Albert Street, said she was the widow of William Davenport, who died of wounds in Mesopotamia. She had known the late Fredk W Bamford for several years, and had been keeping company with him for the past twelve months; in fact they were engaged.
The Coroner: You knew he had fits? – Yes.
And yet you were willing to marry him? – Yes.
The Coroner: You were incurring a great undertaking, under the circumstances.
Continuing her evidence, witness said the deceased came to see her on Wednesday, and they had dinner and tea together. In the evening they went to the theatre, and afterwards called at the Chester Road Tavern, where they had two glasses of stout, and took two bottles home for their supper. After supper he complained of a headache. On previous occasions he had complained of his head before he had a fit. On Wednesday night she left him lying on the sofa, and about quarter to seven next morning he came upstairs and told her he felt bad. She asked: “Is it your head.” and he replied “Yes.” Then he fell right over. She jumped out of bed and caught him, breaking the fall. He struggled as he lay on the floor, and she unfastened his clothing at the neck, and he came round, but when he tried to get up he had a second attack, which was followed by a third. She went for his sister, Mrs Meakin, who came, and then witness went for the doctor. On her return she found the deceased dead. In reply to the Coroner, witness said she was quite sure there had been no excitement to cause the fits.
Dr C A Bradley said he had attended the deceased for epilepsy, the result of a wound in the head causing pressure on the brain. That is why the Medical Board recommended a silver plate.
The Coroner: They promised him a silver plate and then never sent for him. – Why?
Witness: I don’t know. That is the way of the Army.
The Coroner: Yes.
Continuing, Dr Bradley said he was called to the deceased at 9.45 on Thursday morning and went at once, only to find him dead. He was fully dressed. There was every characteristic appearance of epilepsy, and from his knowledge of the case he was quite satisfied that death was due to what was known as Jacksonian epilepsy, a very severe form of the affliction which he had no hesitation in attributing to the wounds deceased received in the war.
The Coroner said it was a very pathetic case. The deceased was unfortunately wounded in the head and eventually was notified to appear before the medical board at Stockport, when he was told he would have a silver plate fitted in his skull, and would be sent for in due course; but the extraordinary thing was they never sent for him, and he (the Coroner) supposed the explanation was that the matter must have been forgotten. he should record a verdict in accordance with the doctor’s evidence, viz. that the deceased died from Jacksonian epilepsy, due to wounds received in France on December 31, 1914.
Sapper Frederick Bamford is buried in grave ref. H. 6389. in Macclesfield Cemetery, marked by a family gravestone. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Sapper Frederick Bamford, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
GRO (England & Wales) Index: Births
Cheshire Parish Baptism Registers (Find My Past): St Michael’s Church, Macclesfield
Census (England & Wales): 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911
British Army Medal Index Cards (Ancestry)
WWI Service Medal and Award Rolls (Ancestry)
WWI Silver War Badge Records (Ancestry)
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Lives of the First World War website
Macclesfield Advertiser: 30 January 1920