Topic: Frederick William Pilcher

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Frederick William Pilcher (Service no. 49053) was a First World War soldier with links to Sumner.

Frederick William Pilcher, was born on 11 March 1893, to Charles Robert and Mary Ann Pilcher (nee Dearing), at Forest Gate, Essex, England. He was the youngest of five siblings - Florence, Charles, John and Ethel.

In the 1891 England census the family had been living at 82 Portway Street, West Ham, Essex where Charles was recorded as being a grocer. Charles died on 11 June 1900 (leaving his widow £521) and by the 1901 census Frederick and his mother were recorded as being visitors staying with the Lowe family on the Isle of Wight. Mary Ann's occupation was listed as a shopkeeper. Frederick appears again in the 1911 census recorded as being a stock broker’s clerk, this time boarding with the Aston family at 36 Dunbar Rd, Forest Gate.

By the start of the war Frederick was now living in New Zealand. A Frederick W Pilcher, clerk and aged 20, is recorded as embarking for Sydney aboard the Orama (Orient Line) on 10 October 1913 bound for New Zealand. According to his military service records he had been a resident for 3 years and 1 month when he enlisted on 12 January 1917

Frederick may have immigrated with the intention of becoming a farmer, and had been working on a farm for a short time after his arrival but appears to have given this up for health reasons. He may have been residing in the Ashley area as he had a cousin, Mr J.A. Bowbyes, living at Ashley Bank, North Canterbury. For the two years prior to his enlistment Frederick had been working as junior assistant-master at the School for the Deaf at Sumner.

He had previously been medically examined for service in November 1915 and deemed unfit due to eyesight. His service records describe him as being 5 foot, 8 inches tall with grey eyes and brown hair.  On his final leave, in August 1917, before heading overseas Frederick spent a few days in Sumner where he was farewelled by his fellow teachers and staff at the School for the Deaf, and the Sumner Send-off and Reception Committee. As farewell gifts the School presented him with a set of safety razors while the committee presented him with a silver mounted pipe and tobacco.

On 16 November 1917 Frederick left New Zealand with the 30th Reinforcements bound for Liverpool, England aboard the HMNZT 97, RMS Tahiti arriving in January 1918. After a period of training at Brocton Military Camp where he was promoted to the rank of Corporal he left for France, joining D Company of the N.Z Rifle Brigade in the field in May 1918.

Frederick was killed in Action in the field at Le Cateau, France on 8 October 1918. He was buried at Naves Communal Cemetery Extension, Nord, France.

In a will that Frederick made in April 1918, while at Brocton, he left £25 to his brother Charles, and the rest of his estate to his sister Florence.

Frederick is remembered on the Sumner War Memorial Plaque and the Ashley Bank Roll of Honour Board.


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Frederick William Pilcher

First Names:Frederick William
Last Name:Pilcher
Place of Birth:Forest Gate, Essex, England