Fred was born in Chiddingstone on 16th November 1866. In 1881 he was working as a farm labourer in Blackham. Then in August 1886 he enlisted in the Royal Artillery, serving for seven years followed by five in the reserves. Two months later he was posted to Malta, then in 1890 to Singapore. He was discharged in 1894 and returned to Blackham where he married May Georgina Coomber (left) on Boxing Day 1895. They began their married life in part of the small cottage just below the school, nearly opposite the entrance to Parkgate. The couple had five children, Naomi (b 28 August 1896), Frederick jnr (b 6 August 1898), Ira (b 1 May 1900) and Victor (b 27 December 1902) before moving to 2 Mayor’s Cottages where their youngest son Frank was born on 19 December 1903. In the 1901 census Frederick is given as a railway plate-layer and ten years late he is working as a farm labourer. At the outbreak of war, with son Fred Jnr already in the Royal Navy, Fred quickly re-enlisted with the Royal Garrison Artillery. His war records are lost and there is no medal index card indicating that he didn't serve in an overseas war zone. We can speculate that he served in a training role or manned the coastal defence batteries. What is not in question is that men like Fred, James John Miles and Bill Wickham Snr, long past military age were quick to sign up to defend their country and serve in whatever capacity they could. Fred died 16th January 1951, he is buried in Blackham churchyard with his wife.
Frederick Towner snr
An old soldier who refused to fade away
Thanks to Frances Worth and Frank Wiltshire for the information about Fred
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