Private Frederick John McNulty

Frederick John McNulty was born October, 27th 1886. He was 29 years old when he signed up for service in the Great War on 24th January, 1916, to serve with the 120th City of Hamilton Battalion. He was a private, second class, when he entered the service, and a private first class when he left.

By signing up he left behind him his job at Hand's Firework Company, his parents, his wife Olive, and their first son, John (Jack) Frederick, who was all of three weeks old. His medical examination sheet describes him as having brown eyes, light brown hair, good teeth, ruddy complexion, a small scar on the back of his left hand, and a chest with a girth of 35 and one half inches at full expansion, with an expansion rate of 3 and one half inches. The examiner also placed his height at 5 feet, 2 inches tall, but there are some family members that disagree with this and maintain he was, in fact, standing on his toes to reach this height.

Upon arrival in England Fred underwent more training for several months, until he was finally transferred to the 19th Battalion in December 1916, taken on for strength. He served as a runner. His first major battle was at Vimy.

Fred was honourably discharged 24th May, 1919, at the age of 31. His discharge papers tacked the initials "MM" for Military Medal after noting his rank of private. In addition to that medal, he also received the British War Medal and the Victory Medal- but these were given to all veterans of the war. He planned to live at 218 George St, Hamilton. The discharge papers give a physical description of him again, and he was still ruddy, brown eyed, light brown hair and 5 ft 2.

He died in September 1958, thirteen years after his wife, Ollie. He was retired, after working at Hand's Fireworks for 42 years. They had four sons, (Jack, Ed (who served in the Second World War) Gord and Ken) and many grandchildren.

Like many veterans, Fred never spoke of the war to his sons. By tracking his unit relatives have learned that he fought at Vimy, Hill 70 and Passchendaele and Drocourt-Quaent, - all the way to Mons- where he ended the war. The last official action of the war was to carry the news of the ceasefire around to the other troops.

Fred's family is not entirely certain why he was awarded the Military Medal. He did not speak even of that to his sons. But one of his sons, Jack, once overheard talking to a cousin, who asked Fred how he won it. Fred replied that he rounded a corner and found himself face to face with a party of Germans. How many depends on who is telling the story. Some say three, others six, others more. At any rate, Fred said they were more surprised than he was, and he managed to take them prisoner. In the first of the Letters Home he mentions that he captured some prisoners. If this was the incident for which he was decorated, then, judging by the date of the letter, it happened during the battle of Amiens.

This account was submitted by Fred McNulty's grandson, Sean McNulty.


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