Frederick Breakspear

 

 Private; 12th (Service) Battalion [Bermondsey], The East Surrey Regiment

Killed in action: 23rd March 1918, nr. Arras

Frederick Breakspear was born in 1899 to Daniel and Louisa. The family lived in the Graig in Lisvane initially and then following the death of Daniel, moved to Rhiwbina. By 1911 they were living at Rose Cottage on Caerphilly Road, which stood near what is now the entrance to Thornhill Crematorium.

It is unknown precisely when Fred enlisted but upon joining the Army he was first posted to the Manchester Regiment and thence to the East Surreys. In March 1918 the battalion were in the front line near Arras in a relatively "quiet" section of the front.

That quiet was soon shattered on 21st March 1918 when the German Army launched its great Spring Offensive. Using hundreds of thousands of troops brought from the Russian front they intended to make one last push to break the Allies before the American Army could arrive. Their initial assault smashed into the British lines around Arras and St Quentin, quickly overwhelming them and forcing the British into a confused and disorderly retreat.

It was during this chaos, in which fellow Llanishen man Walter Whynn was also serving, that Private Breakspear was killed. We do not, and likely will never know, the exact circumstances of his death. His body was also not recovered, and he is commemorated on the Arras Memorial. His mother, once she finally received the devastating news of his loss, also ensured he was remembered in St Isan's.