Frederick John Woollard, fireman on HMS Laurentic, was born on the 12th of March 1877 in Swansea, on the south coast of Wales. He was the eldest of 11 children born to Frederick and Ann Woollard (née Kidwell). Both of his parents were born and raised in Swansea. They married there on the 31st of August 1876.
When the census was taken in 1881 Frederick was living at 4 Jones Terrace Swansea with his parents and two year old sister Catharine. His father was working as a butcher.
By the time of the next census in April 1891 the family had moved to 19 Graig Terrace, Swansea and Frederick, just 14 years of age, was employed as a boilermaker. He now had four sisters and a brother.
According to his service record he enrolled in the Royal Naval Reserve in November 1898.
In 1901 Frederick’s home was 12 Watkin Street, Swansea. He was still living with his parents and was working as an ordinary seaman.
Catherine Carroll was a widow when she married Frederick in October 1906 in Swansea. She gave birth to their son Frederick on the 21st of May 1907 and their daughter Mary in the summer of 1910. Both children appear with their parents and half brother William George Tomlinson, in the 1911 census, Arthur Street, Swansea, but sadly Mary died the following year when she was two years old. In 1911 Frederick was employed as a dock labourer.
We do not know for certain whether Frederick was on duty at the time the Laurentic struck two mines but if he was, as one of the ship’s firemen, he would have been on duty in the engine room which was destroyed in the resulting explosion. He may therefore have been one of the men who was killed on the ship.
It was more than seven years before Frederick’s will was proven and his effects settled on his widow Catherine at her Brynmelyn Street home in Swansea. in 1918, the year after Frederick was lost, his young brother Samuel was killed in action in France while serving with the King’s Scottish Light Infantry. He was only 19 years old.
The German submarine U-80, responsible for the sinking of HMS Laurentic, was surrendered at the end of the war as part of the Armistice terms and later broken up at Swansea.
Frederick Woollard’s body was never found. He is remembered on the Plymouth Naval Memorial and on the Swansea cenotaph, along with 2273 other local men who died in WW1.
Swansea in the Great War by Bernard Lewis
Census Returns of England and Wales, 1881,1891,1901, 1911.The National Archives of the UK, Kew, Surrey, England
Royal Naval Reserve Service Records (1860-1955). The National Archives of the UK (TNA), Kew, Surrey, England.
Birth and death records General Register office, UK. http://www.gro.gov.uk