Frederick Thomas Root (sometimes 'Roots') was born and brought up in Great Baddow. By 1881 he was serving in the army and he later worked as a general labourer. He married in 1892 and had four children, and later lived in Blackmore where he was a farm labourer. During the war he served in the National Reserve. He was killed in Chelmsford by a passing train while guarding the railway in May 1915.
ROOT, FREDERICK THOMAS*,
Private, 2/6th Battalion, Essex Regiment (National Reserve)
The Coroner asked: "When he asked to go on guard was he quite right?" The witness replied: "Quite. He was the most sober man in the company." Continuing, witness said that the post the deceased had charge of was a very dangerous one on a dark night.—Replying to the foreman, the witness did not think the deceased stumbled over the signalling apparatus.
Dr. Newton gave evidence as to deceased's injuries, which were of distressing character.
John Hammond, foreman porter at Chelmsford station, said that on examining the site of the occurrence he found the of the ground disc, signal shifted four inches. That might have been caused by the deceased being thrown against it. Here and there the ground was rough at the spot. The scene the accident was 56 yards from the platform the railway station.
P.s. Crabb said was duty outside the railway station at 11.30 p.m. Sunday. He saw the deceased, who asked him what time was then striking. The witness told him, " Half-past eleven." Deceased replied, " Too late for me to go to my billet now; I will go up the station and ask the corporal if I can guard." The deceased appeared to witness to be under the influence of drink.
The Coroner asked whether he was sure? The witness replied that he was positive as Frederick could not walk straight.
Sergt. Turner denied that the deceased was drunk, and said that he could bring the remainder of the guard to say that deceased was sober. The witness would not put a man on sentry duty in a drunken condition.
The Coroner said to Sergt. Turner: "You saw him at 11 o'clock. Where was between 11 and 12 o'clock."
Turner replied: "I do not know. It is quite possible the policeman saw him.
William Rodd, a private in the deceased's corps, said that he saw deceased in the guardroom at 11 o'clock, and saw him again at 12 o'clock, and helped him buckle his belt on. The witness could not say where deceased was between 11 and 12 p.m.
The Coroner asked: "You were in the guardroom. and would know whether he was in there or not?"
The witness said that he might have been asleep. The men slept sometimes after being on duty. The deceased was quite sober.
P.c. F. G. Scott said that when called site the occurrence he found Frederick lying near the rails, his feet pointing towards London and his head towards the station platform. The rifle and bayonet were yards away. The bayonet was bent.
Major Frank Evans, commanding the deceased's company, said Frederick bore an exemplary character in every respect. Since he had been under him the witness had never seen him drunk, and he was always ready to do his duty. He was steadiest man the company.
A verdict of Accidental death was returned, the Frederick being knocked down by a passing train.
Frederick's funeral was held at Chelmsford Borough Cemetery on 21st May 1915 with full military honours. The funeral procession included a military band and firing party, the latter being supplied by the National Reserves. The coffin was carried with the Union Flag and Frederick's cap and belt were placed upon it. All the members of the National Reserve who could be spared from duty attended. After the committal the customary three volleys were fired over the grave (number 183) and the 'Last Post' was sounded.
Frederick was born in Great Baddow in 1859, the son of Samuel Root (c1837-1897) and Jane Playle (nee Root) (c1831-1896).
The census two years later found Frederick and his parents living in Great Baddow where his father was an agricultural labourer. A decade later the next census recorded 12 year-old Frederick with his parents and his nine year-old sister, Clara Root, in Great Baddow. His father was still an agricultural labourer.
By the time of the 1881 census 21 year-old Frederick was serving as a soldier, billeted at the barracks in Little Warley.
In 1891 he was back in Great Baddow, with his parents and sister in Maldon Road. He was a general labourer.
Frederick married Louisa Simons (formerly Bright). a widow, in 1892. The couple's four children included Charles Root and Ivy Root.
In 1911 Frederick was working as a farm labourer and living at Old Barn in Blackmore.
During the First World War Frederick served as Private 5068 in the 2/6th Battalion of the Essex Regiment (National Reserve). In early 1915 his family home was still in Blackmore, while his billet was at 27 Victoria Road,
Frederick met with a shocking death early on the morning of Monday 17th May 1915 as he guarded the railway line in Chelmsford. He was on duty from midnight until 2 a.m. but when his relief, Sergeant Turner, arrived he found Frederick's mutilated body by the side of the up line, having apparently been knocked down by a passing train. He had sustained horrible injuries to the head and he was badly smashed about the hips. At the time of his death two of his sons were at the Front.
Frederick's inquest was held by Mr. C. Edgar Lewis at the Cedar Temperance Hotel the following day where the following occurred: Charles Root, Royal Berkshire Regiment, son the deceased, gave evidence of identification. He last saw his father alive the previous Sunday afternoon, when appeared in good health.
Oliver Turner, sergeant in Frederick's company, said he was in charge of the guardroom, and the deceased came to him about 11 o'clock p.m. Sunday, and said did not wish to go his billet as he was late, and offered to go guard, and would sooner go on guard that night than on Monday. The witness, being a mail short, put him guard, and personally posted him. Witness left deceased at 12 o'clock at his post, which was the sentry box at the viaduct end at the railway station. Witness visited him again between and a quarter to 1 o'clock a.m. and asked if he was all right, and replied. "All correct." At 2 a.m. the witness went relieve him, but could not find him. Getting a lamp, the witness searched and found Frederick lying just off the metals, the position of tho body suggesting that had been thrown off the outside rail. Seeing that deceased was badly injured, the witness sent for the police, and reported to the commanding officer.