b. 17/01/1891 Cardiff, Wales. d. 15/05/1952 Poole, Dorset.
Frederick Barter (1891-1952) was born at 66 Minny Street, St John, Cardiff, Wales on 17th January 1891. His father, Samuel Barter, was born in Somerset and was a gravedigger when Frederick was born. His mother, Emily Ann Sage, was born also in Somerset and married Samuel in Cardiff in 1889. Sadly, Emily died in 1897, when Frederick was only six. Frederick had three siblings, John Thomas (killed in action in World War I), Robert Samuel and Elizabeth Ann.
Frederick was educated at Crwys Road Board School, Cardiff. He was employed in the Wagon Works in Cardiff, then as a collier and later as a porter on the Great Western Railway. His first attempt to join the Army was rejected because his chest measurement was below the minimum standard. He enlisted in 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, formerly Militia, on 4th December 1908 and rose to Sergeant before transferring to the Royal Welsh Fusiliers Special Reserve.
Frederick was employed by the Cardiff Gas, Light & Coke Company as a stove repairer when he was recalled on 5th August 1914. Although the Battalion landed at Zeebrugge on 7th October, his medal card shows that he arrived on 25th November. He was appointed Company Sergeant Major later that year.
On 16th May 1915 at Festubert, France, Company Sergeant-Major Barter, when in the first line of German trenches, called for volunteers to enable him to extend our line, and with the eight men who responded, he attacked the German position with bombs, capturing three German officers, 102 men and 500 yards of their trenches. He subsequently found and cut 11 of the enemy’s mine leads situated about 20 yards apart.
He was gazetted for the VC on 29th June 1915, and returned to Britain on 2nd July. On 8th July, he visited 3rd (Reserve) Battalion near Liverpool where he was presented with a cheque for £20 by the sergeants, and a cheque for £30, a gold cigarette case, matchbox and sovereign case by the officers. He also travelled to Cardiff and was met at the railway station by the Lord Mayor and other dignitaries. An impromptu collection at the Cardiff Coal Exchange raised £11 4 shillings for the purchase of War Bonds, which were presented to him. His Victoria Cross was presented to him by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 12th July. Frederick was a shy man and, with other VC recipients who had just been invested, he hailed a taxi and slipped away.
In August 1915, he was awarded the Cross of the Order of St George, 3rd Class and was commissioned as a probationary 2nd lieutenant on 26th August and returned to France until he was posted to the Western Command Bombing School at Prees Heath, Shropshire as a temporary lieutenant instructor on 10th May 1916. On 29th December he returned to France and rejoined his Battalion at Louvencourt on 17th January 1917. On 16th March he was seconded to the Indian Army, appointed 2nd lieutenant Indian Army on 6th May, and joined 4/3rd Queen Alexandra’s Own Gurkha Rifles at Kohat, North West Frontier on 18th May. He then became Adjutant in Palestine in December 1917.
He was awarded the Military Cross for his actions at El Kefr, Egypt on 10th April 1918 while leading two platoons in a flank attack up a steep hill. He then placed one platoon with two Lewis guns to command the enemy line of retreat while he gallantly led an attack with the other platoon from the rear and a flank, killing or capturing almost the whole garrison.
Frederick relinquished his commission in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers on 6th May 1918 on being confirmed in the Indian Army. He was invalided home in January 1919 with fever. Promoted captain Indian Army 26th May 1920. Frederick retired on 8th September 1922. He joined the Associated Equipment Company Ltd, Southall, Middlesex in 1928 and remained with the Company as a labour manager until 1952.
Frederick married Catherine Mary Theresa McLaren nee Wright on 13th May 1925. She owned the Heathfield Hotel, Heathfield, East Sussex, and the couple did not have any children. She had been previously married to John McLaren which ended in divorce. Sadly, Catherine died of cancer in 1944 in Brentford, at the time Frederick was a major commanding 4/7th Company, 4th Middlesex Battalion, Home Guard from 1st February 1941.
Frederick died at St Ann’s Nursing Home, Canford Cliffs, Bournemouth on 15th May 1953. He died from myocardial degeneration and failure, arteriosclerosis and chronic nephritis. He was cremated at Bournemouth Crematorium and his ashes were scattered in the Rose Garden of the Garden of Remembrance. In addition to his VC and MC, he was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19, George VI Coronation Medal 1937, Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953 and the Russian Cross of St George, 3rd Class. Barter’s Regiment were keen to obtain his medal group when it came up for auction at Spink’s from a private collection in the USA. The Museum curator, Captain Bryan Finchett-Maddock, attended the auction on 27th March 1992 and maintained a low profile. As a result, he was able to make the successful winning bid of £18,500. Barter’s VC group is held at the Royal Welsh Fusiliers Museum, Caernarfon Castle. His medal group included a Russian Cross of the Order of St George, 4th Class, but he was gazetted for the 3rd Class and its not known what happened to the original. Frederick also died 18 days before the coronation of Elizabeth II, but the Coronation Medal features in his group. The medal was issued straight after the Coronation and its believed that the authorities were not aware of his death. Finally, his Victory Medal 1914-19 has a Mentioned in Despatches oakleaf on the ribbon, but there is no record of this in the London Gazette.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: ROYAL WELCH FUSILIERS MUSEUM, CAERNARFON, WALES.
BOURNEMOUTH CREMATORIUM, DORSET. ASHES SCATTERED GARDEN OF REMEMBRANCE
Thomas Stewart – Medal Group at the Royal Welsh Fusiliers Museum, Caernarvon Castle