Frederick David Roberts was born in West Derby, Liverpool, England in 1886.
The 1901 Census shows that the family lived at 32 John Street, Rhyl, Flintshire, North Wales. The head of the family was Maria Roberts (nee Clarke) aged 37, a widow. Her husband Robert William Roberts had died in 1895. She had six children – George Henry Roberts aged 16, a Grocer’s Apprentice, Frederick David Roberts aged 15, also a Grocer’s Apprentice, Margaret Roberts aged 13, Herbert C Roberts aged 10, Dora Roberts aged 8 and Annie Roberts aged 6 years.
On Thursday 27 August 1914 aged 28 years 5 months Frederick enlisted with 5th Battalion (Liverpool) Regiment. His Attestation Certificate – British Army WW1 Service Record can be viewed on (www.ancestry.co.uk). On enlistment he was described as 5′ 11″ tall, Chest Measurement 38″, Expansion 4″. He gave his occupation as Officer in the Merchant Service. His physical development was described as good and according to the Recruitment Officer and Medical Officer he was fit for Military Service.
Frederick arrived on the Western Front, France on Sunday 21 February 1915 and was killed in action some two months later on Friday 30 April 1915.
The Rhyl Journal – Saturday 18 May 1915 – More Rhyl Heroes. Another death at the front is that of Corporal Frederick David Roberts of the 5th King’s Liverpool Regiment, son of the late Mr & Mrs Roberts, Liverpool and Rhyl, and grandson of Mrs Clarke, Mulgrave, North Avenue, Rhyl. Although born in Liverpool, Corporal Roberts was a Rhyl lad by upbringing, and many relatives of his reside in the town. He will be long remembered for hid heroic saving of life on a burning ship in January last year. Corporal Roberts was then serving as third officer on board the Booth Liner ‘Gregory’, and with mention for gallant conduct in assisting to save the lives of six men in the disaster to the oil tank steamer ‘Oklahoma’. He in time gave up his career on the sea, joining the army shortly after the outbreak of war. He was sent to the front in February last and participated in some of the severest fighting that has taken place since then, including the engagement at Neuve Chapelle. At the time he was killed he was on the point of returning to this country in order to take up a commission which had been offered him. He was about 30 years of age.
Captain Albert Buckley, A Company, 5th King’s Liverpool Regiment, in which Corporal Roberts was serving, conveyed the sad tidings to his Grandmother, Mrs Clarke, Mulgrave, North Avenue, Rhyl in the following letter, dated 2 May 1915. ‘ I deeply regret to inform you that your grandson, Corporal F D Roberts, was killed on 30th April, about 5am. He was in charge of a gap which ran out close to a gap from the German lines. We had been subjected to a good deal of annoyance by a sniping post at the head of the German gap and your grandson, with that entire absence of fear which characterised all his actions, was replying to their fire when he was hit. He was shot through the head and died without knowledge of pain. He was one of the coolest and most intrepid man I have ever met, and I had the highest admiration for him. Everybody liked and respected him. He knew no fear, would sacrifice himself at any time, and was never to tired to put up with hardship and inconvenience. He is a real loss to his country, I cannot say any more’.
Flintshire Observer – 20 May 1915 – Rhyl Soldier’s Death. News has reached Rhyl of the death of Corporal Frederick Roberts of Mulgrave, Rhyl, who was killed in France. The Captain of his Regiment (5th King’s Liverpool), writing to his relatives says that Roberts went out early in the morning to catch a German Sniper, who had been doing a great deal of damage. With his usual bravery and utter disregard for his own safety, he went forward, but was shot by the sniper. Frederick Roberts had a very eventful career and was about to take up a commission in the Welsh Army Corps at Llandudno. Before enlisting he was at sea and held a Master Mariner’s Certificate. In January 1914, while on the Booth Line ‘Gregory’, he went with a crew of five in a small boat to the assistance of the oil steamer ‘Oklahoma’, which had broken in two off Atlantic City. Diving into the water he swam with life lines to the distressed vessel, and was the means of saving the crew. For this gallant action he was entertained to a banquet at New York and presented with a gold medal and 500 dollars.
The National Probate Calendar for 1915, which was administered in St. Asaph, Denbighshire states that Frederick David Roberts of Mulgrave House, North Drive, Rhyl, Flintshire on his death bequeaths the sun of £839. 13s. 6d. to his brother, George Henry Roberts.
On 27 July 1915, a payment of £8. 11s. 8d. was made by the War Office to George Henry Roberts, being monies owed to his brother Frederick. On 28 July 1919, a further payment which is recorded as a War Gratuity of £4. 0s. 0d. was also made to him.
He is also remembered on The North Wales Heroes Memorial Arch, Deiniol Road, Bangor, North Wales and on a Remembrance Plaque at The Royal Alexandra Hospital, Marine Drive, Rhyl, Flintshire.