Frederick CLIFTON (1894–1919)
Frederick Clifton was born in Stanton Harcourt in 1894, the son of Edward Clifton and Emily Gammage. His parents were married in the fourth quarter of 1893, and Frederick, their only child, was born the following spring:
- Frederick Clifton (born in Stanton Harcourt on 29 April 1894).
The 1901 census shows Frederick, aged seven, living with his parents in a cottage in Besselsleigh, with his father working as a carter on a farm.
By 1911 the family had moved to Laundry Cottage, Hook End Lane, Upper Basildon, Reading. Frederick (16) was now working as an under-carter, and his father was still a carter.
Frederick’s mother was living on Boars Hill in 1919 after the death of her husband; it is unclear whether she moved there as a widow or earlier with him.
In the First World War Frederick Clifton served as a Stoker (1st Class) in the Royal Navy on the submarine H.M.S L55 (Service No. K/18374). On 4 June 1919 (some accounts say 9 June) the L55 was sunk while in action in the Baltic against two Bolshevik destroyers: the Bolsheviks claimed they had sunk her, but it is more likely that she actually hit a British-laid mine.
The wreck of the L55 was found by Soviet minesweepers in 1927, and the Soviets raised her on 11 August 1928. The remains of 34 crew members (including Clifton) were returned on the British merchantman Truro before transfer to HMS Champion because the Russians refused to allow any British warship into their waters. The crew was buried in a communal grave at Haslar Royal Naval Cemetery in Portsmouth on 7 September 1928. Clifton is named on a Screen Wall Memorial at that cemetery, and also remembered on the war memorial outside St Peter’s Church at Wootton.
HMS Champion arriving home in Portsmouth on 5 September 1928 with the remains of the crew of HMS L55
Frederick Clifton’s parents
- Edward Clifton was born in Standlake in 1871 (registered third quarter). He died around the time of the First World War.
- Emily Gammage (Mrs Edward Clifton) was born in Middle Barton in 1870 (registered second quarter) She is probably the Emily Clifton whose death at the age of 75 was registered in the Witney registration district in the fourth quarter of 1947. (This is a year out; but so was Emily’s age in all the censuses.)