Frederick Horace Eagle

Frederick Horace Eagle
Born in 1881 at New Road, St Ives, Frederick was the second eldest of two sons and two daughters born to Thomas, a wheelwright, and Sarah (née Bicheno). A further three children died, one before her first birthday and two stillborn. By 1891 the family had moved to 25 Victoria Terrace, Hemingford Grey.

Frederick enlisted with the Royal Marine Artillery in 1901. In the census of that year he is registered at Eastney Barracks, Royal Marine Artillery Quarters. At some point his first names were reversed around and thereafter he was recorded as Horace Frederick Eagle. He served for nine years.

By 1911 Frederick was back at the family home, now at Bridge Terrace, St Ives. His father had his own coach building business and Frederick worked for him.

Some time before 1914 Frederick emigrated to Australia, at first living with his aunt, Mrs J Bicheno, at Woombye, North Coast Line, Queensland. At the outbreak of war Frederick immediately joined up, enrolling with the 7th Battery, Brigade 3, Australian Field Artillery on 20 August 1914. He embarked from Australia on 25 September 1914.

In April 1915 Frederick was part of the Gallipoli Expeditionary Force. He was wounded in action in May 1915 with a gunshot wound to his right thigh. On recovering, he was back at Gallipoli by December 1915, and shortly after transferred to Egypt.

June 1916 and Frederick was fighting in France. Wounded a second time, he was treated and remained at duty. He suffered a second gunshot wound to his right thigh and was admitted to hospital in France in August 1917. After a month he was back with his unit in Belgium, promoted from Corporal to Sergeant.

Field artillery WW1
An artillery unit battles through mud to position their gun
Being a member of an artillery unit was probably one of the most physically demanding jobs of WWI. With horses to care for, days were long. Fresh supplies of ammunition had to be hauled up to the gun position, normally under cover of darkness. Guns needed maintenance. Gun pits, dugouts and latrines had to be dug. Throughout offensive barrages gunners would operate 24hrs on, 24hrs off. And no respite even during hours of rest, the safe position so close to the Front and the battering sound of the guns.

When operating a creeping barrage, two to four rounds a minute were fired for fifty minutes each hour. The gun barrel red hot, the other ten minutes in the hour allowed the gun to cool and sights to be checked. The guns would operate whatever the weather. In action for long periods with little access to a proper rest area, gunners slept in the rough, filthy and crawling with lice.

The job was also dangerous. Spotted by the enemy, a gun position would be subject to counter battery fire. During an offensive there was no chance to take cover. Gunners would continue to operate with shells falling around them. Poison gas was a particular danger.

Frederick was killed on Thursday 11 October 1917, aged 36yrs. His death was reported in the Hunts Post of 26 October 1917. He has no known grave and is commemorated at Menin Gate Memorial, Belgium. He is also remembered in St Ives Methodist ChurchSt Ives Parish Church, and in Australia at Woombye Community HallWoombye War MemorialMaroochy Shire Honour Roll and Nambour War Memorial.

Recommended for the Distinguished Conduct Medal on 12 August 1917, Frederick's citation is shown below. The DCM was awarded posthumously on 1 January 1918, reported on 25 October 1918.

Do you have a photograph of Frederick, or any additional information? If so, please get in touch via the make contact page.

Source materials
Click any of the links below to view original source materials.
1881 Census
1891 Census
1901 Census
1911 Census
1914 Attestation Form
1917 DCM Commendation
Commonwealth War Graves Register
Commemorative Certificate

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