Mr Walter Francis Fredericks

Walter Fredericks

Mr Walter Francis Fredericks 1 was born in Southampton, Hampshire, England on 14 April 1891.

He was the son of John George Fredericks (1865-1915), a labourer, and Amelia Mulford (1856-1898), natives of Southampton and Marylebone, London respectively who had married on 25 December 1886. His paternal grandfather Francis Fredericks (1820-1891) was German by birth and had come to Britain as a young man. 

Walter had four known siblings: John George (1887-1887), George Thomas (1888-1948), Frederick Edwin (1893-1893) and Amelia Anna Jane (1896-1992, later Mrs Orlando Green). 

In the months prior to Walter's birth his parents were listed on the 1891 census as residents of 18 St George's Place, Southampton. By the time of the 1901 census Walter and his family were living at West Street; his father was by now a widow, his mother having passed away in 1898. After leaving school Walter worked at the Southampton docks before joining the merchant service. 

Walter was married on 19 June 1911 to Elizabeth Ethel Weeks (b. 1891), a laundress originally from Cardiff, Wales. Elizabeth lived, as per the 1911 census with her mother and stepfather James and Elizabeth Wallbridge at 10 Ryde Terrace, Southampton. 

Fredericks signed on for Titanic's maiden voyage on 6 April 1912; he gave his address as 6 Elm Road, Chapel, Southampton and his previous ship as Olympic. As a trimmer he could expect monthly wages of £5, 10s.

On Sunday 14 April Walter celebrated his 21st birthday and was off-duty at the time of the collision and the thud of the iceberg and the cessation of the ships engines prompted he and several others to travel down toward the stokeholds to investigate; there they saw the ship taking in water. Not wasting a minute the men turned on their heels and made their way to the upper decks, not taking time to change clothes, put on extra layers or even to grab a lifebelt.

Up on deck Walter managed to get a lifebelt from a passing steward who was distributing them to those who had none. He was among the large crowd of firemen and trimmers who had gathered at the aft starboard lifeboats and when the opportunity arose for him to get a place in a lifeboat he took a seat in lifeboat 15 and assisted in rowing during the night.

Walter was not required to give evidence to either of the inquiries into the sinking and he returned to Britain where he was reunited with his wife and family. 

His wife had been pregnant at the time of the disaster and on 10 May 1912 she gave birth to a son, Walter Charles. He would be followed by William George (b. 1913), Phyllis Gwendoline Irene (b. 1916) and Ernest James (b. 1919). 

In years after the disaster Fredericks continued to work at sea; during World War I he was involved in troop transport and aboard hospital ships before being demobilised in 1920, being awarded the Mercantile Marine War Medal and General Service Medal. During the peacetime years he served aboard Majestic, Olympic and Adriatic; in July 1936 he was a leading fireman and storekeeper aboard Narenta and was described as a standing at 5' 8" and weighing 140lbs. During WWII he again served during the conflict and again came through with his life. 

Walter and his wife Elizabeth suffered the loss of their eldest child Walter on 14 June 1916 when he was crushed to death by a moving timber trolley; they would go on to lose their only daughter Phyllis in September 1923 from tuberculosis. Hard on the heels of that loss came the death of Walters wife in mid-1924.

His son William was married in 1933 to Florence Alice Rose Stride (1912-1933) who was the daughter of George Stride and the former Florence Beatrice Haynes (b. 1887), Southampton natives; the latter had been a widow since 1918. The union between their respective children brought Walter and Florence together and they were married in 1936.

Walter became a widow a second time when Florence died in 1943; he remarried three years later to Mary Hicks, née Simmonds (b. 1898), a widow from Monmouthshire, Wales and with whom he lived for the rest of his life.

Walter Fredericks later lived at 67 Outer Circle, Southampton; he died from lung disease on 30 June 1960 aged 69 and was buried at Hollybrook Cemetery in Southampton. 

His widow Mary died in Fareham, Hampshire on 31 August 1989 aged 91. Both his sons remained in Hampshire and William died in 1996 and Ernest in 1980.

 

Articles and Stories

Titanica! (2012) 
DAVE FREDERICKS EXPLORES THE TRAGIC STORY OF LITTLE WALTEE, THE FOUR-YEAR-OLD SON OF TITANIC TRIMMER WALTER FREDERICKS.
Titanica! (2009) 
National Roll of the Great War 
 

Credits

Gavin Bell, UK
Dave Fredericks, UK
Bill Wormstedt, USA

Notes

  1. Some records spelling the name as "Frederick"; Walter's birth registration is listed as such. 

References and Sources

United States Senate, Washington 1912. n° 806, Crew List
Walter Fredericks' Merchant Service Log

Link and cite this biography

(2017) Walter Francis Fredericks Encyclopedia Titanica (ref: #1489, updated 31st December 2017 10:00:18 AM)
URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/titanic-survivor/w-fredericks.html

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