Frederick William Probert
Private 330653 18th Battalion
Royal Warwickshire Regiment
During four years of the Great War 38,000 Voluntary Aid Detachments nurses (VADs) worked in hospitals and served as ambulance drivers and cooks. The untrained nurses and many auxiliary helpers cared for sick and wounded servicemen both at home and overseas. One small (17-bed) VAD hospital was at Ampthill in Bedford, and Private Frederick Probert was sent there in March 1917. Admitted with acute bronchitis, within a short time he was found to be suffering from double pneumonia. Frederick died at 4.15 a.m. on 12th March 1917, with his family by his side.
Fred Probert had been born in Worcester in 1896, second of eleven children (of whom seven survived infancy) of waterworks labourer James Probert and of Sarah Price. The family moved to Sparkbrook, living at the Back of 89, Highgate Road and later at 191 in the same street.
Fred attested for the Royal Warwickshire Regiment in November 1914, and was enrolled in the 6th (Reserve) Battalion – his eyesight was very poor. Fred gave his age as 19, although he was only 18. He was 5’ 3½” tall, with a 33½” chest. Fred did not serve overseas. He spent ten weeks in a hospital and convalescent home in 1916 (the damaged army record is unclear as to why). Fred was recommended for discharge from the army in September, having developed a cataract which made it impossible for him to continue serving in the military. However, he was transferred to another home battalion at the beginning of 1917.
Frederick Probert is commemorated at Birmingham Yardley crematorium.