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  • Memorial, St Alban the Martyr, Forest Town, Mansfield. Photograph Peter Gillings.
Person Details
Lowestoft Suffolk
Frederick James was the son of William David and Anna Maria Munnings (née Baldry). His father William David was born in Lexden, Essex, in 1848 the son of William Munnings, a mariner, and his wife Charlotte (née Brown). William David was baptised at West Mersea, Essex, in February 1849. His mother Anna Maria was born in Cove, Sussex, in 1851, the daughter of James Baldry, a horseman, and his wife Louisa (née Cook). Anna was baptised at North Cove cum Willingham in July 1851. William David and Anna Maria were married at Lowestoft St John in April 1872 and had at least six children who were born in Lowestoft (reg. Mutford Suffolk): William David b. 1872, Ada Bertha Maud b. 1874, Walter Lewis b. 1875, Henry Ernest birth registered 1877 (J/F/M), Minnie Annie birth registered 1879 (J/F/M) and Frederick James b. 1880. In 1881 William snr., a mariner, his wife Anna and their six children were living on St Peter's Street, Lowestoft. Later that year William snr. was an able seaman onboard the brigantine 'Skimmer of the Sea' (14747 reg. Port of Lowestoft) which foundered in the North Sea Storm 14-15 October 1881 with the loss of all the crew. (See 'Extra information') His mother married secondly George Smith in 1884 and in 1891 Anna, her husband, their three children and five of her six children, including Frederick (11), were living on St Peter's Street, Lowestoft. Anna and her husband were recorded on the 1901 Census on Raglan Street, Lowestoft, along with their four children, one of whom had been born after the 1891 Census. Anna Maria died in 1905 (reg. Mutford). Frederick, a collier, had enlisted in the King's Own Light Infantry on 16 September 1899 and in 1901 was a bugler in barracks at Tanshelf, Pontefract. He married Elizabeth Barnes (b. 1883) at Pontefract St Giles on 5 October 1901. They had had five children by 1911, two of whom had died in infancy; their eldest child, Elsie, was born before their marriage. Their three surviving children were: Elsie (Barnes) b. Pontefract May 1901, Frederick James b. Birdwell 1905 and Doris May b. Birdwell 1907. One of the two children who died young was Gladys May b. Pontefract 1903 d. 1904. The family was living at King's Head Yard, Pontefract, when their daughter Gladys was baptised in November 1903. Frederick was still serving as a bugler with the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. However, he had been discharged from the army by January 1908 when his daughter Doris was baptised. The family was then living at Saville Square, Hoyland Common, and Frederick was working as a coal miner. Frederick snr. was still serving as an army bugler in 1903 but had been discharged by 1908 when he was working as a coal miner in Hoyland, Yorkshire. The family had moved to 31, 8th Avenue, Forest Town, Mansfield, by 1911: Frederick a miner (corporal, Army Reserve), Elizabeth and their three surviving children Elsie, Frederick and Doris. Also in the household was Elizabeth's father, James Barnes, an army pensioner and water inspector, and a boarder, a colliery mechanic. Elizabeth married Bertram Atkins in 1923 and in 1939 when the England & Wales Register was compiled, she and her husband, a collier/hewer, were still living at 31, 8th Avenue, Mansfield. Elizabeth died in 1966.
Occupation collier when he enlisted in the army (King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry) in 1899. 1901 - bugler, Pontefract barracks. 1908 - coal miner. 1911 - coal miner hewer, Mansfield Colliery (Bolsover Colliery Co.). Bugle Major, Forest Town Boys' Brigade and a chorister at St Alban's Church.
15 Nov 1914
48190 - CWGC Website
Mobilised 1914. Home address 31, 8th Avenue, Forest Town, Mansfield.
Lance Corporal
2nd Bn King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
Frederick James Munnings enlisted at Wakefield on 16 September 1899 and served with the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. He probably joined on a 12 year engagement, possibly 5 years with the Colours and 7 years Army Reserve. In 1901 he was a bugler and in barracks at Pontefract, Yorkshire, but had been discharged to the Army Reserve by 1908. Frederick was mobilized on the outbreak of war and served in France from 10 August 1914. The 2nd Battalion KOYLI landed at Le Havre on 16 August 1914 and remained in France for the rest of the war. Frederick died at No. 7 Stationary Hospital, Boulogne, on 15 November 1914 from wounds received in action a few days previously. He is buried in Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, France. Frederick qualified for the 1914 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal. CWGC - History of Boulogne Eastern Cemetery (extract): 'Boulogne, was one of the three base ports most extensively used by the Commonwealth armies on the Western Front throughout the First World War. It was closed and cleared on the 27 August 1914 when the Allies were forced to fall back ahead of the German advance, but was opened again in October and from that month to the end of the war, Boulogne and Wimereux formed one of the chief hospital areas.' (www.cwgc.org)
'Skimmer of the Sea': The son of the author Joseph Conrad recalled his father telling the story that that about a month after arriving in England in 1878, he ‘signed on for the first of six voyages between July and September 1878 from Lowestoft to Newcastle on the coaster Skimmer of the Sea.’ The ‘Skimmer of the Seas’ traded between Lowestoft and the Tyne and during the voyages the skipper, Isaiah Munnings, master mariner and ship owner of Lowestoft, helped the young Polish seaman with English lessons. Isaiah Munnings (b. West Mersea Essex) was the son of James Munnings, also a master mariner. Isaiah, his wife and their children were recorded in Lowestoft on the 1871 census but in 1881 he and the crew of the 'Kathleen' were recorded at South Shields. Lowestoft Journal, 22 October 1881: ‘Terrific Gale. Serious Shipping Casualties and Great Loss of Life. Destruction of Property. Friday last will be a day long to be remembered in this locality by reason of the extraordinary gale, which, from a late hour on Thursday night to midnight, raged with an almost unprecedented fury.’ The wind at Lowestoft was estimated at one point as gale force 9. The report listed a significant number of Lowestoft ships which had been damaged and crew lost or badly injured and ships which were lost but crew rescued by other boats or ships. However, the report continued, ‘Nothing is yet heard of the barquentine Skimmer of the Sea, Captain William Cook, which left the Tyne on Thursday last, bound for Lowestoft.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Lowestoft Journal, 22 October 1881: ‘Apprehended loss of a Lowestoft Vessel. The Skimmer of the Sea, Captain Wm. Cook, left Shields [North Shields] on Thursday afternoon, the 13th inst., and has not since been heard of. She was coal laden, for this port, and as the track she would pursue is one which is being continually traversed by vessels, and fishing boats and trawlers, and not the slightest glimmer of news has been heard of her, it is quite feared, and even believed by seafaring men generally, that the ill-fated vessel has foundered with all on board. Should the worst fears of friends and relations be realised, at least 23 children will be rendered fatherless through the painful calamity.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Subsequent editions of the Lowestoft Journal reported on fund raising events for the widows and orphans of those who had been lost at sea. The crew list varies slightly on different websites but would appear to have been: William Cook (Master), Henry Boon (Mate), William Munnings (Able Seaman), John Buck, James Olley and Arthur Thurston (Ordinary Seamen), and Henry Carr (Steward). Extract from a half yearly account of voyages and crew of home trade ship: Skimmer of the Sea, 14747 Port of Registry Lowestoft, 215 registered tonnage. Registered owner William Cook, Lowestoft. Employed in the coaling trade between Newcastle and Lowestoft. 'She sailed from the latter port on the evening of October 13th and was caught in the dreadful gale of the following day and nothing has since been heard of her or her crew and as the ship papers and are also gone more detailed information cannot be furnished.' The account included a crew List of nine but two had been discharged at Lowestoft in August 1881. Remaining crew were William Cook (M), Henry Boon (Mate), Henry Carr (SP), William Munnings (AB), John Buck or Atkins (OS), James Olley (OS) and Arthur Thurston (OS). ‘Skimmer of the Sea was lost and all hands on Octr. 14th during the dreadful gale of that day.' Account signed at Lowestoft, 9 November 1881 by the Superintendent. (www.mha/munc.a/mha/1881/viewcrew1881) Memorial, St Alban's Church, Mansfield. 'In Memory of Cpl F J Munnings of the 2nd Bn of KOYLI who was wounded in the service of his country and died at Boulogne; France on 15th November 1914. He was a chorister of this church and a respected officer of the Forest Town Boys Brigade by whom this tablet was erected.' CWGC headstone personal inscription: 'From his sorrowing wife and family Rest in Peace' CWGC Additional information: 'Husband of Elizabeth Munnings, of 31, 8th Avenue, Forest Town, Mansfield, Notts.' Mansfield Reporter & Sutton Times, 27 November 1914: ’Forest Town Man Killed. Frederick James Munnings, 31 years of age, of 8th Avenue, Forest Town, who worked at the Mansfield Colliery, and was bugle major of the Boys’ Brigade Band, is amongst the killed. He was a reservist, having served in the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, and was called up on August 4th. Mr J Barnes, secretary of the Mansfield Old Comrades, is his father-in-law. Deceased leaves a widow and three children ... Mrs Munnings has received the following letter announcing her husband’s death: ‘No. 7 Stationary Hospital, Boulogne, 23rd November 1914. Dear Mrs Munnings, I am deeply grieved to have to send you bad news about your husband. He was, as you know, hit on the head, and his skull was fractured. He was transferred to this hospital on the 11th (sic) November and was quite unconscious, and died the next day (sic). Am so very sorry for you, as I know what a shock it must be to you. The only comfort is that he had no pain. He was put in a room alone, where he had a special nurse to himself, and everything that was possible was done for him. He died before I got to the hospital, and I only got your letter enquiring after him this afternoon; otherwise I should have written earlier. Please accept my very deepest sympathy with you in your sad loss. May God comfort and help you. Yours sincerely, David J Stather Hunt, Chaplain.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Mansfield Reporter & Sutton Times, 18 December 1914 (extract): Forest Town Hero. Unveiling of Memorial Tablet. Colonel Le Marchant and Miners’ Character. ‘It is fitting that the first memorial to be unveiled in this church should be to the memory of a man who has died for his country.’ This was the opening sentence in a short address Colonel Le Marchant delivered from the chancel step at the Church of St Alban’s at Forest Town on Sunday morning on the occasion of the unveiling of a memorial brass to Corporal FJ Munning (sic) of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infatntry, who fell in battle in the North of France, and lies buried in the fishing town of Boulogne. There was a very large congregation present … Then there were the members of the Ambulance Corps and the Church Boys’ Brigade in uniform … The Old Comrades walked up from Mansfield, and it was a bleak, wet morning, anything but inviting, to show their respect to the dead man’s memory. Mr Barnes, the secretary of the Old Comrades’ Association, is the deceased’s father-in-law. There was, too, military music by the Colliery Band, which led the singing of the opening hymn and at the conclusion of the service played the National Anthem … The unveiling ceremony took place at the conclusion of the second hymn. The choir led the way to the west end of the church, where the brass is fixed, and Colonel Le Marchant followed, accompanied by Mr JP Houfton (managing director of the Bolsover Colliery Co.) and Mr WH Carter … the colonel walked back to the chancel and addressed the congregation, stating that Corpl. Munnings was one of the first of the 362 workmen from the Mansfield Colliery to answer to their country’s call in her need. He was a man of the highest character, and in his life recognised his responsibilities. Not only did he serve his country, but he served his God, and worshipped in that church as a chorister. He was bugle major, too, of the Boys Brigade, and being a good musician his loss would be greatly felt, not only by the boys but by his fellow workmen at the colliery, of whom 14 per cent of the men employed there were serving their King and country. That served to show that the life of a collier, with its dangers and responsibilities, made character, and taught men the duties of citizenship and the necessity for personal service. Corporal Munnings was only 31 years of age, and he had left a widow and three children to mourn his loss and the sympathy of everyone would go out to them in their loss. His resting place was in France, but he was as safe in God’s keeping as if he lay nearer home.’ The sermon was given by Rev H Bull, ‘They of that church realised his [Munnings] sterling character. He used to sit Sunday by Sunday amongst them in the choir, and they missed him more than he could tell.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) His widow Elizabeth was awarded a pension of 18 shillings and 6 pence a week for herself and her three children, Elsie, Frank and Doris, first payment made 31 May 1915.
Remembered on


  • Memorial, St Alban the Martyr, Forest Town, Mansfield. Photograph Peter Gillings.
    Frederick James Munnings - Memorial, St Alban the Martyr, Forest Town, Mansfield. Photograph Peter Gillings.
  • Photograph courtesy of Peter Gillings
    St Alban the Martyr Church, Forest Town - Photograph courtesy of Peter Gillings
  • Buried in Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, France. The headstones are laid flat due to the sandy soil. (www.cwgc.org)
    Frederick James Munnings - Buried in Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, France. The headstones are laid flat due to the sandy soil. (www.cwgc.org)