(wrongly named as Harold Frederick Verrall)
Frederick Harold Verrall was born in 1892 in Winchester. Unfortunately, the memorial at St Bartholomew Church names the fallen soldier as Harold Frederick Verrall, who was a completely different man!
To understand this, we have to look at two different but related Verrall families.
Frederick’s grandfather Charles VERRALL married Elizabeth Towell in Portsea in 1857. They had 4 children including William (born 1865) and Frederick (born 1872) who both went on to marry two Osmond sisters.
Frederick’s other grandfather George OSMOND married Elizabeth Bishop in 1856 in Poole, Dorset. They had 5 children including Emily (born 1862) and Hetty (born 1866).
In the 1881 census, Emily Osmond, aged 19, is visiting relatives in Hyde Street, Winchester. She married William Verrall in 1888 in Winchester. In the next census in 1891, William and Emily are living in Hyde Street, a few doors away from Emily’s relations. They now have a 2 year old girl, Hetty, named after Emily’s sister. Emily’s mother Elizabeth Osmond is also with them.
In the 1901 census, the family is living at 33, Egbert Road with 4 children: Hetty (12), William (7), Florence (5), and Egbert (3). Their son Frederick Harold (9) is a patient at the Royal County Hospital in Romsey Road; his illness is not specified. William Verrall Snr is working as a bricklayer. In the 1911 census, William and Emily are now living at 27, Egbert Road with their daughters Hetty and Florence. It is not known where their son William is at the time of the census; Egbert is visiting his cousin living two doors away.
Returning to Emily’s sister, Hetty:
In the 1891 census, Hetty Osmond, aged 24, is working as a servant for Mrs Warner of Northlands, Worthy Road. That same year, Hetty married George Woodnutt Ford in Winchester, but George died 4 years later, aged 29. They had no children.
Hetty Ford nee Osmond then married Frederick Verrall (her brother-in-law) in 1898 in the South Stoneham registration district (Eastleigh area). In an earlier census, Frederick had been a ‘Punch & Judy Showman’ in Camberwell!
In the 1901 census, Frederick and Hetty are living at 29, Egbert Road (Hetty’s sister Emily is at No. 33). Frederick is 29 and working as a bricklayer; Hetty is 34. Her widowed mother, Elizabeth Osmond, is staying with them. The following year, their only child, Harold Frederick, was born. In the 1911 census, the family is still living at 29, Egbert Road. Harold Frederick is now 8 years old, and his cousin Egbert has come over from No. 27 to visit.
The confusion arises as Harold Frederick Verrall, born 1902, is NOT the fallen soldier as previously believed, but his cousin born in 1892.
The military records for Frederick Harold all name him Harold Frederick, except – fortunately – for his service record.
Frederick’s service record shows that he had been an apprentice tailor for 5 years, and his apprenticeship ended on 31st December 1910. Five days later, on 5th January 1911, he enlisted in Southampton with the Dorsetshire Regiment on a ‘short service’ i.e. for 7 years. He was 19 years old. Frederick was already serving part-time with the 4th Hampshire Regiment when he enlisted.
His service record gives the following description:
Height 5ft 9¾”
Weight 145 lbs [10st 5lbs]
Chest girth when fully expanded: 37½”
Tattoo left upper arm – female hand with bouquet; large mole right breast
Two months later, in the 1911 census, Frederick can be found as a private in the Dorsetshire Regiment. In his service record he is recorded as serving at “home” i.e. in the UK, from 5th January 1911 until 1st July 1912.
He was appointed (unpaid) as Lance Corporal on 28th June 1911, but some time later he reverted to being a Private – “at his own request”. He was discharged on 1st July 1912 “at his own request, on payment of £18 under Art. 1038(i) Pay Warrant”. The reason is not given.
In 1917, Frederick Harold married Agnes Emma Farthing in Winchester. The following year their daughter Betty M Verrall was born in Winchester.
At some point, Frederick rejoined the Dorsetshire Regiment and served as a Sergeant with the 6th Battalion with the service number 40595. In 1915 the battalion was mobilised for war, landing at Boulogne. During that year it held front lines in the southern area of Ypres salient. In 1916 it fought at the Battles of Albert and Delville Wood. In 1917, the battalion was present at the First and Second Battles of the Scarpe, the capture of Roeux, and the First and Second Battles of Passchendaele. In 1918, the battalion fought at The Battle of St Quentin, The Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of Amiens, The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of Havrincourt, The Battle of Epehy, The Battle of Cambrai, The pursuit to the Selle, The Battle of the Selle, and The Battle of the Sambre. The Battle of the Sambre took place on 4th November 1918. Frederick was Killed in Action that day; he was 27 years old. His body was never found.
Frederick is commemorated on the Vis-en-Artois Memorial in France (7 miles south-east of Arras). The Memorial bears the names of over 9,000 men who fell in the period from 8th August 1918 to the date of the Armistice and who have no known grave. They belonged to the forces of Great Britain, Ireland and South Africa.
Frederick’s widow, Agnes, married William Newman in 1920 in Suffolk (where she had been born). Frederick’s service record states that his widow, now remarried, is living at 2, Maypole Villas, Grange Road, Eastleigh.
Frederick’s brothers also served in the First World War: William enlisted in the Warwick Yeomanry in 1915 and served in France; Egbert enlisted in the Royal Garrison Artillery as a Gunner in 1914 and was gassed in France. Both brothers survived.
Frederick’s only child, Betty, married Harold Thompson in 1940 in Winchester and had a son, Andrew F Thompson, who was born in Winchester in 1953. Andrew married Janet Miglaw in 1977 in the Southampton registration district.
Frederick’s widow died in 1966 in the Southampton registration district, aged 79.