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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

"The Derrick" Puzzle

Matthew King

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Hi Pals

Haven't been on the site for a while but recently I have decided to try and finish transcribing all my Grandfather's letters. My wife is reading through all the ones I did before and enjoying it, with a fresh set of eyes she keeps asking questions about things I missed.

The one I am struggling the most is what my Great Uncle Fred King was up to in December 1914. Fred would have been only 15 or 16 at the time, my Grandfather who was older had just enlisted with the 6th Essex and gone of to Stamford for train. Fred was still at home with his parents in Chalton Heath, London. Now all the letters keep mentioning Fred going off to France soon. I originally thought they were talking about their cousin Fred Shelly, but it is quite clear they are talking about young Fred. There is a letter from Fred to Lionel that may have some clues


6 Derrich Gardens

Anchor + Hope Lane

Charlton, Kent


Dear Lionel

I thank you for the Xmas card you sent me it was a nice one + the letter as well. The Derrick isn't gone away yet but they are getting in the wood for the bunks. I heard that it is going in a fortnight time but no one is sure yet. I hear that a German airplane got a far as Erith. Dick isn't wearing his uniform this Xmas will he get into trouble over it if he is found out. They had three Belgium soldiers up the Trafalgar cinema and was collecting for them. Write again before I got to France, I think I must close with love

From you Brother Fred

Please excuse the error + writing, got a rotten nib.


Fred and Lionel's mum says in a letter dated the same day


I do not know exactly when Freddie is going away. They are getting the things ready on The Derrick, SO I suppose she going sometime or other. </blockquote>

Lionel had leave shortly after this and then the matter of Fred leaving is never mentioned, Fred stays at home and gets a job driving the laundary van eventually joining the A.S.C. when he turned 18 a few years later. I guess things got resolved during Lionel's leave.

Does any one have any ideas what Fred was up to, thanks for any help.


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Thanks Roop

I just saw in a letter from Lionel dated 23-02-1915

"I am glad Fred has started work + I hope he will like it. Fancy the Derrick going down. It is hard luck for the men isn't it."

So I guess the Derrick was sunk, does any one know any more about the sinking of the Derrick?


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