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  • Christina Drummond

Serjeant Frederick George Blomeley, 21st (Service) Battalion (Yeoman Rifles), the King’s Royal Rifle

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1916, Serjeant Frederick George Blomeley, 21st (Service) Battalion (Yeoman Rifles), the King’s Royal Rifle Corps, was killed in action on the Somme.

One of seven children of a carpenter, he had been studying to be a teacher at Leeds Training College at the outbreak of the Great War. He enlisted on the 8th of December, 1915, and rapidly rose through the ranks to become serjeant (correct spelling) exactly three months later.

On the 5th of May Serjeant Blomeley’s battalion mobilised for war, and were concentrated between Hazebrouck and Bailleul. They fought at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, and it was during this action that Serjeant Blomeley lost his life. Just before leaving for France, he and his siblings had their photograph taken, and he took a copy with him, keeping it in one of the pockets of his uniform. The photograph was found on the battlefield, but there was no sign of a body to match the soldier in the picture – as there was no-one who could identify him, the photograph was sent back to England where it appeared in a newspaper. A family friend recognized him, and the photograph was returned to his family.

His mother made enquiries as to his remains, and received a letter from the War Office in May of 1918, part of which read: “In further reply to your letter, I beg to say that Serjeant F. G. Blomeley is stated to have been killed at Flers, north west of Combles. It is regretted that in spite of a thorough and methodical re-search of this area by working parties specially detailed for the purpose, no trace of the grave can be found.” His body was never found, despite further searching, particularly around a memorial cross which had been erected in the Guards Cemetery at Lesboeufs to the fifty-four men of his battalion who had been killed. His name is on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing, and he is also commemorated on the Leeds Training College War Memorial.

Frederick, from Llanwollo, Glamorgan, was 19 years old.

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