Frederick James Andrewartha was born in London and brought up in Hampshire where he became a house painter like his father before him. He married and had two children. During the war he joined the army and in its early months he was billeted in the Chelmsford area. In February 1915 he died at a military hospital in Chelmsford from meningitis, one of at least eleven servicemen who succumbed, to an epidemic of the disease in the town. His body was taken home to Farnborough for burial.
Frederick was born in Camden, London on 11th September 1869, the son of James and Emma Andrewartha. He was baptised at Holy Trinity Church in Havelock Hill, Camden on 15th June 1873, along with younger brothers James Henry and William George Andrewartha. At the time their father was a painter living at 12 Upper James Street.
In 1881 the census recorded 11 year-old Frederick with his parents and four younger siblings at Stanley Cottage in Farnborough, Hampshire. Frederick was still at school while his father was a house decorator.
Frederick married Florence Selina Bartlett (1873-1964) in Hampshire in 1895. The couple went on to have two children: Florence Yolande May Andrewartha (1897-1955) and Daisy Eveline E. Andrewartha (1899-1927).
The 1901 census recorded 31 year-old Frederick with his wife and daughters at 2 Virginia Cottage, Farnborough, and he was a foreman house decorator, following in his father's footsteps. A decade later the 1911 census found the family of four at Elne Tree House in Farnborough, with 41 year-old Frederick working as a house builder and decorator.
During the First World War Frederick served as Company Quartermaster Serjeant 610 in the 4th Battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment. In the early months of the war his unit and others from the army's South Midland Division was billeted in the Chelmsford area.
ANDREWARTHA, FREDERICK JAMES*,
Company Quartermaster Serjeant, D Company, 4th Battalion, Royal Berkshire Regiment
On 25th February 1915 Frederick complained of feeling unwell and was removed from his billet at The Beeches in Vicarage Road to the special hospital at Kenilworth, Moulsham Street in Chelmsford, which had been set up to deal with an outbreak of cerebro-spinal meningitis in the early months of 1915. Frederick's condition decline and shortly after midday on Friday 26th February 1915 he died there.
By the time of his death had served in the army for a total of 22 years in more than one spell, gaining the long-service medal in the process. He had been a member of the old H Company of the 1st Royal Berkshire Volunteers. On the Tuesday following his death his body was escorted by the company and band of his regiment (playing funeral music) as far as Widford. There, outside the church, the coffin upon which were five beautiful wreaths passed through the ranks and was taken by a motor vehicle for interment at Farnborough, Frederick's home town.
Today he rests in grave H321 at Farnborough (Victoria Road) Cemetery.
Frederick left an estate valued at £602 9s. 6d.
The military victims of the 1915 outbreak of cerebro-spinal meningitis in Chelmsford included:
- 24th January 1915
- 25th January 1915
- 8th February 1915
- 11th February 1915
- 17th February 1915
- 17th February 1915
- 19th February 1915
- 20th February 1915
- 26th February 1916
- 4th March 1915
- 22nd March 1915
- 25th March 1915