Frederick Woodmore Samuel was a Scotsman who served as a soldier and was billeted in Chelmsford in the spring of 1916. He died in an incident at Chelmsford’s swimming pool in March 1916 when he drowned in very cold water having plunged in.
SAMUEL, FREDRICK WOODMORE*,
Private, D Company, 2nd/8th Battalion, Royal Scots
Thomas dived in with his clothes on, but failed to get him. Two others also went in. I then reported the police, and I was present when the body was recovered at about 2.30. —The Coroner: Was he swimmer?— Witness: I had heard that he was.—ls it customary for these men to take these cold baths? —I do not know.—Had any man ever taken a cold bath with you before?— No.— What were your duties?—To take the men down to the baths and bring them back again.—So that if a man said he preferred to have a cold bath you could not prevent him? —I had no authority, sir.
Frederick Crozier. attendant at the baths, deposed: When I, in the warm baths department, heard this accident I want out with a lifebuoy. There was sign the deceased in the water, which would about 5ft. 6in.deep at the spot. Usually it is about 4ft., but on account of the snow and floods it was deeper then. The swimming bath is closed this time of year. - Have you known soldiers go in?—One or two will in now and then? —Is there any means of closing the swimming bath altogether that nobody could get there —I don't think there is.—Would anyone have to get permission from you use it while it is closed—Well, they go down unknown us.—If they do ask you refuse them?—Yes.
Mr. Geo. Melvin (the Town Clerk): Had you known that this man was going into the swimming bath you would have stopped him if you could? — Yes, sir, I should.
Police-Inspector Jacob deposed: I received information of the fatality at 2.20, proceeded the spot. and recovered the body with drags from about 6ft. 6in. water. Ten or twelve feet from the side the bath. Dr. Alftord, who had been phoned for, was present when the body was recovered. The temperature of the water was 40 degrees. —Dr. Alford said he believed death was caused by drowning, but there was a possibility that the deceased, diving into such cold water, had a spasm of the heart. There was every indication death being due to suffocation from drowning, accelerated shock from the cold,
Capt. Bremnor, R.A.M.C. concurred, and the the jury returned a verdict accordingly, expressing their sympathy with the relatives and with the regiment.
The Coroner, concurring, said cold plunges were extremely dangerous.
Alderman J. O. Thompson, Ji.P. said that he (as chairman of the Public Baths Committee), the Town Clerk, and the Borough Engineer (Mr. Percivai Harrison) attended on behalf of the Corporation, who desired to express their sympathy also with the relatives and the regiment. They had passed a resolution to that effect on the previous evening. They lamented the fatality, which was the first which had upon their premises."
Two days after his death Frederick was buried with full military honours in grave 206 at Chelmsford Borough Cemetery. The service was conducted by the Rev. Canon Lake, Curate of Chelmsford. The band of the pipers of the 2/8th Royal Scots headed the funeral procession, which consisted of a gun carriage, on which was the coffin, covered with a Union Flag, Frederick's cap, belt and side arms resting on it, a carriage containing relatives, and a large number of his comrades. The band played 'Scots aha' ba'e' sat the procession passed through Chelmsford. At the close of the ceremony three volleys were fired over the grave and the 'Last Post' was sounded.
The grave already contained the remains of Margaret Aylett who had died in 1890 aged 74.
Frederick is commemorated by Dalkeith War Memorial.
Frederick was born on 8th January 1898 in Bauntons Close, Dalkeith, Scotland, the son of single woman Margaret Samuel (1881-1926).
In 1901 the census found three year-old Samuel with his maternal grandmother in Dalkeith.
During the First World War Frederick served as Private 4889 in D Company of the 2nd/8th Battalion of the Royal Scots.
His battalion was billeted in the Chelmsford area in the spring of 1916 with Frederick staying at 33 Nelson Road in Chelmsford.
He died in an incident at Chelmsford Swimming Pool on 29th March 1916, aged 18 which was reported in the local press as follows:
"A sad tragedy occurred at the Chelmsford Swimming Bath on Wednesday. A number of the 2/8th Royal Scots were waiting for hot baths, when one, Private Frederick Samuel, aged 18, decided have a plunge in the swimming bath, the water which was of a temperature only 40 degrees. He plunged into the bath, and, but for faint struggle, was seen no more alive, the intense cold
of the water having evidently affected his heart. Sergeant Thomas and others made a gallant attempt at rescue, but the sergeant had to give up his task through nearly drowning himself. The body was afterwards recovered dragging. Dr. Alford, an Army doctor, and others attempted artificial respiration, although it was hopeless from the start. Deceased was a single man. gardener in civil life, and belonged to Dalkeith.
Mr. C. Edgar Lewis held an inquest on 30th March. Mr. A. B. Parker was foreman of the jury.—Capt. W. It. Dawson. 2/8th Scots, identified the body.
Sergeant-Major John Hay deposed: I was in charge of a number soldiers at 3 p.m. yesterday at the warm baths of the Chelmsford Corporation. Some of the men had entered the warm baths and dressed, and others and I were waiting outside, near the open-air swimming bath. The deceased came out undressed from one of the stripping boxes, and I understood that preferred a plunge in the cold bath. He dived into the cold water at about the four foot depth. He came up to the surface, and I noticed nothing to arouse any suspicion. then suddenly sank, and was not seen again alive. Sergeant