b. 02/01/1897 Hendon, London. d. 20/11/1975 Chiswick, London.
DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 29/03/1939 London.
Frederick William Henry Maurice Child (1897-1975) was born on 2nd January 1897 in Hendon, London, the only son of five children of William and Florence Blanch Child (nee Page). His father was originally a carpenter but by the time of Frederick’s birth was now an electrician employer. The Childs lived at 36 Victor Road, Kensal Green during Frederick’s childhood. By the time of the 1911 Census, the family had moved to 5 Stowe Road, Shepherd’s Bush, and his father was away for work.
Frederick, on the outbreak of the Great War, enlisted with the Honourable Artillery Company on 2nd June 1915. He joined the 3rd Battalion before being drafted into the 1st Battalion on 24th February 1916. He first saw action in France in March 1916, and later trained as a Lewis Gunner. He was promoted to Corporal, and was wounded in action in February 1917, and was evacuated to England. After a long recuperation period, he re-joined the 1st Battalion in June 1918 for the last few months of the war.
Little is known about Frederick’s life post the First World War, except that he remained unmarried and lived for the majority of the rest of his life with his sister in Shepherd’s Bush. Frederick’s life took a dramatic twist on 29th March 1939 when he walking across Hammersmith Bridge and noticed a small leather suitcase on the structure of the bridge. Upon examination, he saw that it was smoking, so he climbed through the structure onto the side of the bridge and threw the case into the river. The explosion which followed sent up a 60ft column of water; this was followed by a second explosion on the bridge, but no one was hurt owing to Child’s courage and presence of mind.
For his gallant actions, Frederick was awarded the Empire Gallantry Medal of the Civil Division on 5th May 1939. In his citation, he was named as Maurice Childs. Following the creation of the George Cross over a year later, he became eligible to exchange his medal. He attended Buckingham Palace in October 1941 to receive his GC from King George VI.
Frederick lived in Shepherd’s Bush for the remainder of his life, living alone after his sister’s death in 1964. Frederick died on 20th November 1975 in Chiswick, Middlesex, and he was cremated at Mortlake Crematorium in Surrey. He is commemorated in the Book of Remembrance there. His GC, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19 and 1953 QEII Coronation Medal are privately held.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: PRIVATELY HELD.
BURIAL PLACE: MORTLAKE CREMATORIUM, RICHMOND, SURREY.
Richard Yielding – Image of Frederick Child GC at the 1968 VCGCA Reunion.