Wellingborough man's trunk is a treasure trove of life in the trenches

The centenary of the end of World War One is a time of reflection for one man who's grandfather was shot in the head during the conflict.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 7th November 2018, 5:00 am
Fred Deighton's trunk from the trenches
Fred Deighton's trunk from the trenches

Fred Deighton, who was born in Wellingborough in 1893 and lived all his life in the town, was in the Royal Army Medical Corps.

He enlisted in October 1915 aged 22 years and 10 months and in April 1916 was posted to No 1 Field Ambulance.

The trunk belonging to Fred Deighton

Later that year, he was wounded in action after being shot in the scalp so returned to England to recuperate before heading back to the trenches.

Private Deighton’s grandson Graham Underwood has the trunk he stored all his belongings in, proving to be a treasure trove of information about his life.

It contains numerous wartime items belonging to ‘Grampy’, including his medical service band, binoculars, a compass and magnifying glass, bandages, a cigarette case bearing his initials and a notebook filled with details on how to treat various wounds and conditions.

The trunk also contains pictures of him and his family and paperwork from his life, including mortgage documents and his national registration identity card.

Fred Deighton of Welllingborough

Graham of Ringstead said: “It is the trunk that went out to the trenches.

“He was an amazing man.”

While its contents shed some light on his grandfather’s life, it is only after time and research into the war that Graham has learnt more about Pte Deighton.

He said: “I didn’t know he was shot in the head and then went back out.

Fred's armband from the Royal Army Medical Corps

“He didn’t talk about the war.”

One thing Pte Deighton did tell Graham was that he was in the army with a famous illustrator and had drawings by this man.

Graham has had these illustrations of trench life and one of a German soldier framed to ensure they can be passed to future generations.

They were by Bisto cartoonist Will Owen who produced images for the Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News during the war.

One of the Will Owen illustrations which Graham Underwood has had framed

Graham said: “I want people to see things like this, especially schoolchildren.”

One part of Pte Deighton’s life that has been documented is his marriage to Lillian just 48 hours before he left for the trenches, as reported in the then Evening Telegraph when the couple celebrated their golden wedding.

After leaving the army, Pte Deighton became a nurse at Wellingborough’s Park Hospital, which is now Isebrook.

He worked there for 27 years and it is the same hospital where he died aged 86.

Graham is part of Raunds & District History Society and he wants to share what he has learnt with others, particularly with schoolchildren and as part of this year’s centenary commemorations.

He added: “If these guys hadn’t done what they did, who knows where we would have been.”

As well as remembering the life of his grandfather, Graham is involved in a project to honour the centenary of the end of World War One in Ringstead.