Frederick John Abbot, seaman gunner, second son of Henry Octavius and Nelly Abbott, was born 1888 in West Derby, Lancashire. His parents, both Londoners, moved to Liverpool after the birth of their first son Roderick. Frederick had been at sea on merchant ships since the age of 15, serving at first as a deck boy on the Indefatigable and the Lake Champlain, and was soon promoted to Ordinary Seaman (OS). He was serving on the Matador with his Brother Roderick in 1907. By the time he was 18 years of age he is recorded as Able Seaman (AB) in crew lists for The Matador.
We don’t know when Frederick first enrolled in the Royal Naval Reserves but do know from his service records that he re-enrolled in August 1914, joining Howe Battalion on September. He took part in the defence of Antwerp with the Naval Brigade in October 1914.
At the declaration of the war on 4th August 1914, there was a surplus of some 20-30,000 men of the reserves of the Royal Navy who would not find jobs on any ship of war. It was recognised that this was sufficient to form two Naval Brigades and a Brigade of Marines for operations on land. In the haste to organise and move the units to defend Antwerp, 80% went to war without even basic equipment such as packs, mess tins or water bottles. The two Naval Brigades were armed with ancient charger-loading rifles, just three days before embarking. Utimately, Antwerp fell to the German Army, and those units that managed to successfully withdraw returned to England, Abbott among them. Approximately 1,500 troops of the 1st Royal Naval Brigade crossed the Dutch frontier to escape from Antwerp and were interned in the Netherlands.
A notice in the Liverpool Echo, dated 3rd February 1917 included an appeal from Frederick’s father to any survivors, seeking information about how he had died, (his body not having been recovered).
He is commemorated in the Plymouth Naval War memorial