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Frederick Pilgrim

Local History

Page updated - 17 March 2009

Roll of Honour - Gt. Cornard


Private Frederick Pilgrim


240300  1st/5th Battalion Suffolk Regiment. 


Frederick Pilgrim known as Fred was born in Great Cornard around 1898.  He was the 4th son of John and Rosina Pilgrim.  His father was employed as a carman and the family lived in Broom Street, Great Cornard.  Fred had 5 known brothers and sisters; David, George, Ernest, John and Lilian.  Before the war he was employed at W Armes, matting manufacturers in Cornard Road.


Fred enlisted in Sudbury (formerly as 1864 Suffolk Regiment).  He joined the 5th Battalion and served alongside Wilfred Hunt, Stanley Nunn and Russell Wordley.  His Commanding Officer was his former employer Lieutenant Colonel William Armes.  Fred is recorded as having first served in a ‘theatre of war’ at Gallipoli, landing on 18th August 1915.


The 5th Battalion embarked on the ‘Aquitania’ in Liverpool in July 1915, heading for Gallipoli in the eastern Mediterranean.  On 12th August the battalion disembarked at Mudros and six days later saw action against the Turks, advancing through heavy enemy fire without any artillery support from their own side to gain 1,300 yards.  The battalion suffered 186 killed or wounded and a further 160 sick with the majority suffering with dysentery.  The battalion was garrisoned at Hill 60 and had to endure disease, swarms of flies, heat, water shortage and lack of transport. 


In October 1915 Fred was wounded and invalided home but he returned to his regiment in early 1916.  He had written and asked his brother Ernest to try and get him into the Norfolk Regiment with him.  Ernest replied and told him he was better where he was.  Fred’s battalion had finally left Gallipoli on the night of 6th December 1915, in 4 months it had suffered over 800 casualties, killed, wounded or sick.  It then moved to Egypt and along the Suez Canal.


On 11th December 1916 Fred wrote home, this letter along with two written by his brother Ernest was discovered 90 years later purchased at an antique fair.  It was sent to the Sudbury Family Historical Society with the hopes of returning it to the family.  In the letter Fred wrote ‘I am glad to hear that you are all quite well as this leaves me the same at present’ and he tried to cheer his Mother after his brother Ernest’s death 6 months earlier: ‘well Mum dear do so try and cheer up a bit as my dear brother is gone to a better home and we shall all meet again some day’.

A full transcript has been included here.


In March 1917 the battalion moved to Palestine, Fred died of wounds on Tuesday 27th March 1917 aged 19, only eight months after his brother Ernest was killed.  He lies buried in Gaza War Cemetery, Israel.


Fred was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and Victory Medal.


Click Here to Read Frederick Pilgrim's Letter Home.


©Shirley Smith - Sudbury & District Royal British Legion - November 2008