Rank: Corporal 33440 (Beds Regt) 25022 (Northants Regt)
Regiment or Ship: 7th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment previously Northamptonshire Regiment
Service Number(s): 33440 (Beds Regt) 25022 (Northants Regt)
Occupation: Licensed Victualler (Devonshire Hotel, Bexhill)
Date of Birth: 26.04.1881
Place of Birth: Ashmore House, Cudham, Kent
Date of Death: 15.03.1917
Place of Death: Achiet-Le-Grand, France Place of Burial / Memorials:
Buried in Achiet-Le-Grand Communal Cemetery Extension, Pas de Calais, France. Grave III. J. 24. – See also Bexhill-on-Sea, Sussex War Memorial and St Mary Magdelene Church War Memorial, in Bexhill on Sea , Sussex.
Address: Devonshire Hotel, Devonshire Road, Bexhill
Photos and newspaper articles
Frederick Charles Sewell married Grace Winifred Nye on 3rd May, 1916, in the Register Office, by Licence, in Battle, East Sussex. He was aged 35, a Licensed Victualler, and she was aged 28, born in Dulwich, in Surrey, and living at 59, Devonshire Road, Bexhill. His father is recorded as Richard Sewell (deceased), a Licensed Victualler, and her father as Charles Corss Nye, an Inspector in the N.S.P.C.C.
Richard Sewell, born 1837, in Newington, London and Fanny Sewell born 1849, in Paddington, London
Fanny Elizabeth Sewell born 1878, at Ashmore House, Cudham, Kent
Richard C Sewell born 1879, at Ashmore House, Cudham, Kent
Sydney G Sewell born 1884, at Ashmore House, Cudham, Kent W0171 SEWELL Sydney George
Ada B Sewell born 1886, at Ashmore House, Cudham, Kent
Elsie V. Sewell born 1888, at Ashmore House, Cudham, Kent
Winifred A. Sewell born 1889, at Ashmore House, Cudham, Kent
Frederick didn’t marry until May 1916 and was killed in action in March 1917. They appear to have had no children and no record of a child has been found.
First World War Experience
The story of Frederick’s First World War experience, such as it was, comes mainly from newspaper accounts because none of his service records are known to have survived the bombing in WW2.
Frederick wasn’t born in Bexhill but had been living in the town since 1892. He enlisted in Bexhill, after a attending a Military service tribunal and losing his argument for exemption due to business concerns.
The following is the newspaper report of him leaving for France.
From the Bexhill Chronicle, Saturday, December 23, 1916 — “Corpl F. C. Sewell (one of the popular family to whom the Devonshire Hotel belongs) has gone over to France, leaving England on Saturday. Before he left he was with the 28th Reserve Training Battalion stationed in Kent. He was warned for active service on December 5th, received his final notice on Friday, and entrained at 3 a.m. on Saturday morning. He has joined the Beds.”
The following reports of his death, “Killed in Action”, come from both local newspapers, published on Saturday, April 7th, 1917,and both of which gave the same extract from a letter, sent to his widow, by his Commanding Officer.
“He was leading an attack on a strongly-defended village when he was shot and died at once. During the short time he had been in my Company he had made himself universally popular and his death is a great loss to his many friends in the Regiment. He was buried where he fell on the following day.”
Later, to mark his grave, a temporary cross was erected but, even later, this was replaced with something more substantial. [See Image 06 – New cross].
Later still, his body was re-buried in a grave at the Albert Communal Cemetery, in Albert, near Achiet-Le-Grand and a Commonwealth War Grave Commission’s headstone erected. [See Image 05 – Headstone of Frederick Sewell]
Many records state that Fred was born in Keston, in Kent but his birth certificate says that he was born at “Ashmore House”, Cudham, Kent some 4 miles away – as does that of Robert Cecil Sewell, his brother. The 1891 census also gives his siblings as being born at “Ashmore House”. Fred lived in Bexhill from 1892 until his death, in 1917.
He was a keen sportsman and was particularly interested in football. He was secretary to the old Bexhill Football Club, and was a very good player, particularly at centre-half. He was also a very good billiard player.
Before Fred Sewell joined the Army he founded the “Bexhill Tradesmen’s Stretcher Bearer Company” for wounded soldiers.
He attended a Military Service Tribunal on 6th March 1916 in an attempt to get total exemption because he was the only brother living on the premises at the hotel. The business, he said, needed an on-the-spot manager because of the lack of staff, but he was given only one month’s exemption.
His widow, Grace Winifred (née Nye), married a William Robinson, on 28th February at St. Stephen’s Church, Bexhill.
PROBATE RECORD From the “England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966”
“SEWELL Frederick Charles of Devonshire Hotel Bexhill-on-Sea Sussex died 15 March 1917 in France. Probate Lewes 1 June to Richard Cecil Sewell gentleman. Effects £1848 11s. 4d.”
The extract, above, has no punctuation other than the full stop after “gentleman” and after the shillings and pence.
Frederick had married Grace Winifred Nye, on 3rd May, 1916 but seems to have either forgotten to change his will or, perhaps, had arranged with his brother, who was left with the “Devonshire Hotel”, to look after their four, dependent sisters (according to his tribunal statement) and his wife, if anything should happen to him so left him his effects.
The vast majority of the information in this biography has come from a granddaughter of William and Grace Robinson (formerly Sewell, née Nye). She is Sandra Silvester and her family have been researching the life of Frederick Sewell for many years.