Private Frederick Osborne Spooner

Private FO Spooner's grave
Private FO Spooner’s grave

Regiment: 1/1st Battalion, Sussex Yeomanry
Service No: 3002
Date & place of birth: 1883 in Lodsworth
Date & place of death:
25 October 1915 in Selham, aged 32

Frederick Osborne Spooner enlisted but never served in the Sussex Yeomanry. Within one week, whilst on home leave and apparently regretting his enlistment, he left his home at Snapelands in Lodsworth, supposedly on his way to visit his ‘young lady’ in River, and was never again seen alive. His body was found five weeks later in the River Rother and an inquest determined that he had drowned around the time that he had disappeared. He was buried in Lodsworth churchyard but his name wasn’t included on the Lodsworth war memorial.

Family background

Frederick Osborne Spooner was born in Lodsworth in 1883 and baptised on 14 October 1883 in St Peter’s Lodsworth. He was the third child of Henry Spooner, a farmer and brickmaker, and his wife Ellen née Corey, originally from Wisborough Green. They were living at Snapeland Farm, Lodsworth.

Up until at least 1911 Frederick was living with his parents at Snapeland Farm. After he left school he worked on the farm.

Around 1907 he had spent 11 months in Graylingwell psychiatric hospital in Chichester.

Frederick’s mother Ellen died on 6 June 1914 aged 58 and was buried in St Peter’s churchyard.

Military service

On 19 October 1915 Frederick enlisted in Brighton as Private 3002 in the 1/1st Battalion, Sussex Yeomanry, part of the South Eastern Mounted Brigade. He “asked off” for a week and was given leave until 26 October.

Death & commemoration

Frederick left home on the evening of 25 October to go and see his ‘young lady’ in River. No trace could be found of his whereabouts until his body was found on 2 December in the River Rother at Tods Bridge, Selham. An inquest was held by the Sussex Coroner at the George & Dragon Inn (now Halfway Bridge). The newspaper clipping is a report of the inquest. The jury returned an open verdict of ‘found drowned’ and it was assumed that death had occurred five weeks previously.

West Sussex Gazette 9 December 1915
West Sussex Gazette 9 December 1915

Frederick’s father stated that he had been rather surprised that his son had enlisted, but that his son had thought that it was his duty to join. When he returned home he did not seem to like something the military authorities had said to him about discipline and said something about having to be under them after being his own master all his life. He seemed rather sad and ‘regular worried’.

Frederick was buried in St Peter’s churchyard, Lodsworth on 4 December 1915 and his gravestone said ‘who passed away on Oct 25 in 1915’. His name is not listed on the Lodsworth war memorial but is in DeRuvigny’s Roll of Honour 1914-1924.

 

Midhurst U3A WW1 War Memorial Project