Tale of soldier who fought in three wars

COURAGEOUS Ipswich shoemaker Fred Pratt laid his life down for his country in THREE wars.Now the medals that bear testament to his bravery in the Boer War, First World War and Second World War are to be auctioned off, highlighting his extraordinary story.

COURAGEOUS Ipswich shoemaker Fred Pratt laid his life down for his country in THREE wars.

Now the medals that bear testament to his bravery in the Boer War, First World War and Second World War are to be auctioned off, highlighting his extraordinary story.

Joining the Royal Engineers at the tender age of 17 in 1898, just a year later Fred was fighting in the Boer War in South Africa.

And even when he was in his late 50s and considered too old to fight in the Second World War he still joined the Home Guard, a force which later inspired the TV comedy series Dad's Army.


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There are scant details available about the brave soldier other than that he was born in Ipswich in 1881 at number six Fore Hamlet in the town.

His father John Pratt was a fishmonger and had a shop at number 25 Key Street, Ipswich.

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Fred started work as a shoemaker, but on September 27, 1898, he joined the Royal Engineers and just a year later went out to South Africa to fight in the Boer War.

Not content with surviving that conflict, he then served as company sergeant major with the 4th Signal Company Royal Engineers during the First World War.

He was on the Western Front from August 22 1914 and was one of the first British troops there after Britain had declared war on Germany just a fortnight earlier on August 4.

Twice mentioned in Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig's (later Earl Haig) Despatches,in 1917 and 1919, in 1918,he was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal- “in recognition of valuable services rendered with the armies in the field during the present war.”

However after Fred joined the Home Guard, it is there that his story seems to end and no-one has any information about what he did next.

But now - close to the 110th anniversary of Fred Pratt becoming a soldier - his medals are to be auctioned at Spink in Bloomsbury, London and are part of a £30,000 collection of First World War medals put up for sale by a mystery collector.

The Pratt collection includes his Meritorious Service Medal; his 1914 Star with Bar,which means that he was in action in the first three months(August to November 1914)of the First World War;and his King's South Africa medal.

n. Do you know any more about Fred Pratt and his family? If so contact the Star news desk on 01473 324688 or email starnews@eveningstar.co.uk

BOER WAR

There were two Boer wars, one ran from 16 December 1880 - 23 March 1881 and the second from 9 October 1899 - 31 May 1902 both between the British and the settlers of Dutch origin (called Boere, Afrikaners or Voortrekkers) who lived in South Africa. These wars put an end to the two independent republics that they had founded.

22,000 British troops had died and over 25,000 Boer civilians. The Boer republics became part of the British Empire but the Boers were given £3m in compensation and were promised self-government in time (the Union of South Africa was established in 1910).

FIRST WORLD WAR

The First World War was the first war to be fought on three continents and raged from 1914-1918 resulting in the deaths of millions of men and women.

During the summer and autumn of 1914 France lost as many men on the battlefield as the US Army would lose in the whole of the 20th century.

During that war 230 soldiers perished each hour of the four and a quarter years that it continued.

SECOND WORLD WAR

Fought between 1939 and 1945 the war began when the Germans invaded Poland on September 1 1939.

The war caused millions of people to suffer, costing 55 million lives.

This war was fought on the Mediterranean, the Atlantic and the Pacific, and in four major land campaigns, in the Soviet Union, North Africa and the Mediterranean, Western Europe and the Far East. The war against Japan was fought over two-thirds of the world's surface, with America and her allies taking part in vast air, land and sea battles.

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