Friday, 20 February 2015

Frederick Hunton, Durham County Councillor

Shire Hall, c.1900 (D/Ph 273/1)
D/Ph 273/1 Shire Hall, c.1900
This week we have another guest post by David Butler.

Frederick Hunton was the only Durham county councillor to be killed in the Great War. He was born in Stockton, on 25 June 1869, the eleventh (and last) child of John Hunton and his wife, Mary Ann. 

In 1895 Frederick was a general practitioner in Norton, living at Harland House, and in early 1898 in Stockton he married 21 year old Maude Mary Laing Young. The 1901 census showed them living in Sedgefield. 

Maude died in 1902 and five years later, in 1907, Frederick married one of her sisters, Eleanor Mary Webster Young. In the 1911 census they were living with their children at The Whins in Sedgefield, an 18-room house, with four servants. 

In addition to his role as a general practitioner, Dr. Hunton is listed in the 1902 Kelly’s Directory as the Medical Officer of Health for Sedgefield Rural District Council, the Medical Officer for the Sedgefield district of Sedgefield Poor Law Union and the Medical Officer for Sedgefield Workhouse. In the 1914 Directory, he is also described as the Medical Officer to the Sedgefield RDC Infectious Diseases Hospital.

He was first elected in 1910 as a county councillor for the Sedgefield division, and re-elected unopposed, in 1913.

Frederick Hunton volunteered for service in the British Army in 1914, when he was 45, and he was gazetted as a lieutenant in the Royal Army Medical Corps on 5 January 1915, subsequently corrected to 17 December 1914. His application for a commission includes a certificate of good moral character signed by Viscount Boyne of Brancepeth Castle. He was initially attached to the Northumberland Hussars Yeomanry, a Territorial Force cavalry unit, and was promoted to captain on 17 June 1915.

It is not clear where Dr. Hunton was based, but on 13 April 1916 he was given six weeks sick leave following a broken leg which he sustained by falling from a horse on a visit to No.1 (or Northumbrian) Northern General Hospital. This was a Territorial Force hospital which was accommodated in Armstrong College (now part of Newcastle University) and the Newcastle Workhouse Infirmary (now Newcastle General Hospital). On 22 June 1916 he was declared fit for duty and rejoined his unit two days later.

Alexandria, Egypt, taken from a ship, c.1915 (D/DLI 7/752/11(29))
D/DLI 7/752/11(29) Egypt, c.1915
There are no records of his movements until 20 December 1916 when he sailed from Marseilles, France, arriving in Alexandria, Egypt, on the 27 December, where he joined the RAMC base depot at Mustapha. On 13 January 1917 he joined the No.15 Military Hospital at Abbassieh, Alexandria. Less than a month later, on 2 February, he joined the 1st East Riding of Yorkshire Yeomanry, but on 19 February he was moved to the Casualty Clearing Station attached to the 53rd (Welsh) Division at Ismailia. You can find more information about Casualty Clearing Stations here

Frederick Hunton was killed in action on 6 May 1917, age 47, as a result of a bombing raid on Deir el Belah, and was buried in Deir el Belah CWGC cemetery in Gaza.

Frederick Hunton was one of the 743 RAMC officers who died in the Great War, and he is commemorated on the war memorial cross outside St. Edmund’s church, Sedgefield, where a memorial service was held on 19 May 1917. His is also one of the 53 names on the Newcastle University Medical school memorial plaque which was unveiled in 1923. 

You can find out more about Councillor Frederick Hunton on the Durham at War website here:

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