Fred Blake (centre) with his brother and friend, c.1916
FREDERICK JAMES BLAKE (1899-
Born at Clapton on 9th June 1899. Baptised at St. John’s Church, Hackney 30th June 1899. Son of Joseph and Martha Blake (nee Armitage) of 33, Adley Street, Clapton Park.
Schooling – not known, but school certificate dated 18th January 1916.
Messenger boy at the outbreak of war.
Joined Royal Marines 1915 aged 15.
Trained at the Recruit Depot, Deal 6th September – 31st December 1915 and again 1st January 1916 – 15th March 1916.
Based at Chatham 16th March 1916 – 8th June 1916 and again 9th June – 7th August 1916.
Served on HMS Repulse 8th August – 16th September 1916. Repulse was a Renown class battleship launched in January 1916. (She was sunk by the Japanese in 1941 during World War II).
Back at Chatham 17th September 1916 – 31st October 1916.
3rd Royal Marine Light Infantry Battalion 1st November 1916 – 16th April 1918. During this time he served in France and brought back two engraved shell cases with his name and RMLI etched on them by prisoners of war. The unit was raised in 1916 to replace army units as garrisons on Greek islands in the eastern Aegean.
"Victory V" 17th April 1918 – 31st December 1918 and 1st January – 5th July 1919
Chatham 6th July 1919 – 30th July 1919.
Served on HMS Erebus 31st July 1919 – 11th March 1920. Erebus was a monitor ship launched in June 1916 and served in both World Wars. Monitors were designed as stable gun platforms to allow for close inshore support for land operations.
Chatham 12th March 1920 – 2nd June 1920 (discharge – invalided out).
Married Minnie Louisa Oakman on 30th December 1918 at St. Thomas’s Church, West Ham. On marriage certificate Fred was described as a soldier in the Royal Marines Light Infantry. At time of discharge in 1920 his address is given as 13 Trehurst Street, Clapton Park. He had met Minnie at a fairground on Hackney Marshes. He went to work for the Gas, Light and Coke Company at Beckton. One of his jobs was as a street gaslamp lighter – he also used the long lighting pole to tap on the bedroom windows of those gas workers due to get up for work!
Fred and Minnie together with their sons Fred and Don moved to Arnold Road, Dagenham in the 1920s.
Fred remained with the gas board until his death of cancer in Oldchurch Hospital, Romford on 19th April 1960. He was buried in Manor Park Cemetery