Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

Frederick Octavius Furby

Frederick Octavius Furby :

Frederick Octavius Furby : British War Medal

British War Medal

Frederick was born between July and September 1882 in Richmond, Surrey. His father was called Alfred and his mother was Alice. He was one of at least 12 children: Jessie, Alfred, Clara, Richard, Arthur and Frank were all older, and Kate, Tom, Annie, Alice and Grace were younger.

In 1891 Alfred worked as a bookseller's clerk and the family lived at 4 St Leonards in Mortlake, Richmond. Ten years later Frederick had moved away. He was lodging with the Chesters family at 226 Gorton Road in Reddish, Stockport. He worked as an iron and steel borer, or machinist.

The First World War broke out in August 1914 and on the 17th November Frederick enlisted in the 5th City Battalion being formed by the men of Manchester to ensure they could fight together. This later became the 20th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. William was given the service number 17090 and assigned to number IV Platoon in A Company.

The 20th Battalion trained in Manchester until December. It then moved to Morecambe, Lancashire. In May 1915 they moved to Grantham in Lincolnshire, and then in September to Larkhill, Wiltshire.

On the 24th July Frederick married Jessie Longbottom at the Registry Office in All Saints Manchester. Their home would be 24 Alington Street off Birch Lane in Rusholme.

We don't know why, but Frederick was removed from the 20th Battalion on the 22nd October, around 2 weeks before it sailed to France. He was assigned to the 26th Reserve Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. This unit had been created to provide reinforcements for the 19th, 20th and 21st Battalions. It moved to Prees Heath, Shropshire in November 1915 then Southport, Lancashire in December.

Frederick joined the 1st Garrison Battalion of the Manchester Regiment on the 14th February 1916, and then transferred to the 2nd Garrison Battalion 2 weeks later. These units were made up of men who were too young, old or unfit to serve in the frontline. They would instead serve in the UK.

The 2nd Garrison Battalion was disbanded in February 1917. Frederick joined the 2nd Garrison Battalion of The Cameron Highlanders for around a month, and then transferred to the 3rd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment based in Cleethorpes on the 16th March.

On the 9th April Frederick found himself in trouble. He was charged with 'when on active service, 1) dirty equipment, 2) not complying with an order'. He was confined to barracks for 3 days as punishment.

At some point during this time Frederick had been reassessed and found fit enough for front line service, because two months later he was in France.

Frederick joined the 2nd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment on the 17th May 1917. He served with them during the Passchendaele Offensive around Ypres in Belgium during the autumn. During January they were based to the north of Ypres in Houthulst Forest, where they took casualties.

We don't know why, but Frederick left the 2nd Battalion and the infantry on the 4th March. He was transferred to the Army Veterinary Corps (AVC). They gave him a new service number: SE/34691. We don't know what his job was or where he served. Most of the soldiers of the AVC worked with horses, which were absolutely indispensible to the British Army. It used hundreds of thousands of them during the war and the AVC successfully treated 80% of those that became sick or injured.

At some point Frederick joined the AVC School of Farriery. Farriers made and fitted horseshoes, although we don't know whether Frederick was there to provide veterinary support or to learn how to do this.

Frederick suffered an injury to his right hand that was serious enough for him to qualify for a pension of 13 shillings and 9 pence (13/9) per week from the 10th March 1919 onwards. He was discharged from the Army at around the same time. His pension would be reviewed after 39 weeks, but we don't know whether it was changed.

We don't believe Frederick and Jessie had any children, but his life after the war remains a mystery. His medal was donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in June 1989. As well as his British War Medal, Frederick was also awarded the Allied Victory Medal for his Army service. Due to the work of soldiers like Frederick the Army Veterinary Corps was renamed the Royal Army Veterinary Corps on the 27th November 1918.

Museum of the Manchester Regiment
c/o Portland Basin Museum
Portland Place
Heritage Wharf
Ashton-under-Lyne
OL7 0QA

Telephone: 0161 343 2878
Email: Portland.Basin@tameside.gov.uk
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Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council