Frederick Stott was born at Biddulph in August 1896 – the son of William and Annie Susan Stott (née Nicholson). His father, William, was a grocery manager and at the time of Fred’s birth managed the Co-op Stores. Kelly’s directory of 1896 records William as manager.
As a manager, William and Annie had moved extensively round the country. William originated from Rochdale and Susan was from Jersey. The places of birth of their ten children shows that they lived for a few years in Worksop, followed by Chester, Biddulph, Lichfield, Canterbury and finally at Barry Docks in Glamorgan.
The 1911 census finds the family living at 84, Castleland Street, Barry Dock where William was employed as a measurer. William and Annie had been married for 23 years and had raised ten children all of whom were still alive. Fred was aged 14 and a butcher’s apprentice. Presumably it was from South Wales that Fred enlisted in the Royal Navy.
Without service records it’s not known on which ships or branch of the Navy he served in throughout the war. However it is known that in 1918 he was a Leading Telegraphist, a highly skilled sailor who would have studied his trade at a Naval Wireless School being taught in coding and decoding, sending messages at speed, setting up and repairing wireless equipment.
At this time Fred served on board HMS Gaillardia, a new ship built on the Clyde in 1917 and so a warship that immediately went into war routine. The Gaillardia was an Aubrietia Class Convoy Sloop Q-Ship of 1250 tons. This class of ship was one of the closely guarded secrets of the war. Q-Ships were crewed and built to deceive the enemy, a ship of mercantile appearance with false bulkheads that opened to reveal heavy guns ready to fire on surfacing enemy U-Boats who were expecting to sink an unarmed merchant vessel. A similar class of the time were the Dazzle Ships.
In March 1918 the Gaillardia was operating in the North Sea off Orkney carrying out buoying operations in the newly laid Great Northern Barrage which stretched between Scotland and Norway; a barrage of mines aimed to interrupt enemy U-Boat movement. On March 22nd 1918, whilst carrying out their duty, the Gaillardia struck one of the mines, was blown up and sunk with the loss of 66 sailors out of a crew of 92 men.
The lost included their Captain Schafer and sadly 21 year old Fred Stott who died at sea and is remembered on the Plymouth Naval Memorial. Another memorial list kept in the Barry Memorial Hall shows 75 names of men who died from the town, however this is not complete as the full list was accidently shredded in the 1980s.
Fred is also remembered on the cenotaph in Albert Square.
Michael Turnock and Elaine Heathcote.