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  • Christina Drummond

Captain Frederick Christian Dietrichsen, 2/7th Battalion, The Sherwood Foresters

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1916, Captain Frederick Christian Dietrichsen, Adjutant, 2/7th Battalion, the Sherwood Foresters, was shot and killed during the Easter Rising in Dublin.

He had attended Gonville and Caius College in Cambridge before being called to the Bar at the Inner Temple in London. He was a popular barrister in Nottingham at the time of the outbreak of the Great War. Commissioned in November of 1914, he joined the Sherwood Foresters, and in the spring of 1916 his battalion was in southern England on special duties during the German zeppelin attacks. On the 25th of April they received orders to travel to Liverpool for embarkation – many of the soldiers were young volunteers who had not even completed their training, and were surprised to find themselves arriving in Dublin and not France as they had anticipated. Recorded as exhausted and disoriented, some even thought at first that they were in France. Irish rebels had seized the city and were prepared for the arrival of British troops. The Sherwood Foresters were designated as the leading column, and were charged with clearing houses and side roads as they moved through Booterstown and Ballsbridge towards Mount Street Bridge on the Grand Canal – this was a rebel stronghold so they were prepared for action. Dublin residents welcomed them as many Irish people did not hold with the Rising, and the soldiers were offered tea and food. As they marched through Blackrock, Captain Dietrichsen was shocked to see his wife and children on the street, among those who had turned out to welcome the soldiers. His wife was a Dublin woman, but he thought she was at their home in England, whereas she had taken her children to her parents’ home in Ireland as she believed it would be safer, not knowing the Rising had been planned for that Easter weekend. He broke out of formation to hug them, then carried on to the Mount Street Bridge.

Lieutenant Michael Malone of the Irish Volunteers had taken up position in No. 25 Northumberland Road and watched as the soldiers marched in from Ballsbridge – he was known to be a crack shot with the Mauser automatic pistol given to him by Eamon de Valera. For their own safety he sent away the young volunteers who were with him, knowing he would not survive the day, then opened fire, killing Captain Dietrichsen and three others. The Sherwood Foresters stormed the building and Michael Malone was shot and killed.

In Captain Dietrichsen’s pocket was found a letter he had written to his wife that morning, not knowing she was in Ireland: “My darling Bea, Just a line to tell you I am all right & hearty. We have not had any clothes off for two nights. I ought not to tell you where I am. I think we are in for a fairly lively time. Your loving Fred” One of the residents of Northumberland Road later wrote to her to tell her of her husband’s bravery, telling her how had heard him encouraging his soldiers, leaving himself without cover with no regard for his own safety.

Captain Dietrichsen is buried in the Deansgrange Cemetery at Blackrock in County Dublin. The surviving Sherwood Foresters were sent to the west of Ireland for the remainder of the year and then on to the Western Front. Four of their officers and twenty-four recruits were killed during the Easter Rising, with over two hundred others having suffered grievous wounds.

Frederick, from Epping in Essex, was 33 years old and married with two children.

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