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Frederick Louis Stickland (1917-2007)

by Jonathan Reid, Fred’s grandson

Frederick was born on 30 May 1917 to William Louis Stickland (1872-1947) and his wife Nellie Stickland in the small parish of Tyneham, Dorset. His father William was a fisherman and boat builder and Nellie was a domestic servant at the nearby Smedmore house.

Their life was hard, living at Stickland’s Cottage, a small brick cottage on the cliffs of Charnal beach. Water came from a well in the garden and any electricity was provided by one battery a week. It was a simple life but very rewarding for a young child. His playground was the rock pools, the sea and his father’s boat yard. He told me of many happy evenings sitting with his parents in the kitchen listening to their Cat whisker radio, catching up with the outside world.

When it was time to go to school, the nearest was four miles away in Kimmeridge. Every school day started with a short walk to the coast path to meet up with other children and walk to school. If they were lucky they might catch a horse and cart that was on its way to Wareham to change the batteries for the parish.

At the age of seven Fred’s parents decided to send him to Wareham Boys’ School, which was for boarders only. After a few years there and with a good standard of education Fred wanted to join the Royal Navy. He was only 13 and still too young to join up. So he was sent to a Naval School on the river Hamble called TS Mercury. His accommodation would be an old wood vessel named HMS Gannet. Boys would sleep in hammocks and in the morning there would be an inspection by the military style teachers. The syllabus was based on working and living on the sea. They would study late into the evening and the pace was relentless.

In 1933 Fred went to Collingwood and joined the Navy as a boy sailor and was trained in the art of Gunnery. After spending most of his life in boarding schools he found Collingwood fairly easy. In the next few years he found himself on the Rodney, Ramalies and the shore base HMS Abingdon in Singapore. Also in this period he met his future wife Gertrude from Plymouth.

In 1938 Fred married Gertrude Simpson (1919-1985) at St. Andrew’s Church in Plymouth. Gertrude was born 3 November 1919 at Plymouth. War was looming and Fred was posted to HMS Ulster.


Fred and Gertie had one daughter:

  • Pearl Anne Stickland (1941-1999) – Pearl married George Reid (1939-2001) at Plymouth on 28 August 1965. George and Pearl had a son, Jonathan who has kindly provided most of the photographs and information about the members of the Stickland family. Pearl died in 1999 aged 59 and George died in 2001 aged 62.

Shortly after Pearl was born, Fred was sent to Alexandria in the Eastern Mediterranean to serve on the Hunter Class destroyers. The battle for Malta was raging and he found himself in the sharp end on convoy duties escorting ships between Malta and Alexandria. During one of the convoys his gun position was hit and he received a serious injury to one of his legs. The ship managed to make it to the quayside at Malta where he was met by two doctors. They argued over what to do about his leg. One said chop it off and the other said keep it. After a long time in hospital Fred walked out on both legs. The only problem he had now was that when he itched his leg he could feel it in his foot. He carried on with the convoy duties until the German surrender in North Africa.

The Sicily Invasion was the next thing to worry about and he was put in charge of 400 landing craft for this next phase of the war. After Italy he was sent to America for training and to bring back a newly built warship for the Royal Navy. When he was out there the war in Europe finished. That week for him and the crew was one big party, the ship had to leave America a few days late.

Fred’s days after the war became a little more stable with a number of postings to ships and shore bases. Also he received promotion and by 1956 became a Lieutenant Commander. In this year he was given his first command of a ship. The ship would be the Tiree and would be the happiest time in the Navy. The ship’s mission was secret and very dangerous. The ship would be sent out in all the bad storms when the rest of the Navy was in port. After that it was back to Collingwood to train the new recruits of the Navy. In his last few years in the Navy he was posted to the reserve fleet and after 32 years it was time to leave. In Civvy Street he would own his own shop and work for Taylor Woodrow and Spillers animal food.

Fred was married to Gertie for nearly 50 years until her death in 1985. Their daughter Pearl passed away in 1999. Fred died on 3 December 2007 leaving behind two grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and many friends.

Page last updated: 20 March 2020

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