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  • Christina Drummond

Captain Lord Frederick Charles Edward Cambridge, 1st Battalion, The Coldstream Guards

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1940 Captain Lord Frederick Charles Edward Cambridge (born Prince Frederick of Teck), 1st Battalion, the Coldstream Guards, was killed in action at Leuven in Belgium.

He was born in Vienna, at the Opera House, his mother having gone into labour during a performance she had been attending. His father, the 1st Marquess of Cambridge, was the British military attache, his aunt being Queen Mary, the consort of King George V. In 1917 the family relinquished their German style and titles and adopted the surname of Cambridge. Captain Cambridge received his commission in 1928, and was promoted to Lieutenant in 1931. He served in Palestine in 1936 and 1937, and was promoted to Captain in 1938. When the second world war broke out, he served with the British Expeditionary Force in France.

The 1st Battalion, under Lieutenant Colonel Arnold Cazenove, was in Major General Montgomery’s 3rd Division – they arrived in Cherbourg in September of 1939, then travelled on to Roubaix. They spent the winter constructing trenches, pillboxes and wire entanglements. They were not prepared for the cold, their clothing being inadequate, and their quarters unheated. Also many of the men had received very little training. To lift morale, concerts with popular entertainers such as Gracie Fields and George Formby were arranged. The advance into Belgium followed on the German invasion of the Low Countries, which occurred on the 10th of May. The 1st Battalion moved to Vilvorde, then on to Leuven, where they had their first engagement with German troops four days later. The following day, during heavy fighting, Lord Cambridge was killed, the first officer of the Coldstream Guards to fall. His death was a blow, not only because of the loss of a competent officer, but because he was so widely popular. He is buried in the Heverlee War Cemetery, just south of Leuven in Belgium.

Frederick, from Shotton Hall in Shrewsbury, was 32 years old.

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