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Durham County Record Office: the official archive service for County Durham and Darlington

Frederick Seed (1893-1918)

Information about Frederick Seed, teacher at South Moor, who was killed in the last naval attack on the Dover Patrol and is commemorated on  Durham County Council War Memorial.


Frederick Seed was born on 2 October 1893 at Alma Terrace, Durham City; he was probably a sickly infant, since he was baptised privately on 26 October and received into the church on 12 November. His parents were Timothy Henry Seed and Emily Seed (nee Fallon), though his father, a blacksmith, sometimes gives his name as Henry Timothy Seed. Frederick was the oldest of four children.

The family moved from Durham City to Bearpark, and, by 1897, were living in Royal Street in Stanley where his father had moved into business on his own account. In 1911 Frederick is described as a pupil teacher at a council school.

South Moor Greenland Schools, 1908 (DR04993)
Frederick trained as a teacher at York Training College from September 1912 to July 1914, and, on 17 August 1914 (13 days after the outbreak of war), began teaching at South Moor Greenland Junior Boys School, with class 6, the youngest children. On 9 July 1915 the school logbook notes that he was absent with 'febrile catarrah', and 'will not be on duty for some time'. On 2 November Frederick was absent from school all day, with the head teacher's permission, to apply for admission to Durham University Officer Training Corps. Three days later he was again absent, having a second admission interview. It is not clear what was the result of the interviews, since on 28 January 1916 there is a note that Frederick had been at work in the Recruiting Office all week, and that is repeated on 31 January, 11 February, 18 February, 25 February and 3 March, although he does not appear to return to work until 3 April.

On 2 May Mr Alton, the head teacher, recorded that 'Messrs W Rose and F Seed cease duty to take up military service. This has caused some temporary rearrangement of the classes until the staff is strengthened'. However, on the next day it was noted that 'Mr Seed (CA) has been sent back from military work for a short time. He is taking charge of Std II'. A week later Frederick was again absent on military duty, this time in charge of recruits travelling to Richmond. When the new school term opened on 15 August 1916, Frederick was teaching class 2, the Standard V, or oldest children. Finally there is a note that Frederick was called up for military service on 9 October 1916. Frederick's eventual death is not recorded in the school logbook.

It is somewhat puzzling that Frederick did not begin his military service until 1916, since he was a naval reservist in the Tyneside Division, and, as such, would usually have been called-up at the beginning of hostilities. Possibly his lengthy illness in 1915 is an explanation.

In 1918, age 24, Frederick was serving as one of three telegraphists on the Jeannie Murray in the Dover Patrol. The Jeannie Murray was a herring drifter (a requisitioned fishing boat) which had been based at Buckie in peacetime (and was possibly numbered BF623), one of 500 boats registered in the Buckie/Banff area, and had been built at Lowestoft in 1907.

The Dover Patrol was a group of, mainly small, warships and requisitioned vessels which attempted to prevent German vessels, especially submarines, from using the Dover Straits and English Channel as a route to the Atlantic, thereby forcing them to use the much longer route around the north of Scotland. During the war minefields were also laid in the Straits in conjunction with lengths of underwater steel nets. The ships of the Dover Patrol carried out anti-submarine patrols, escorted hospital and troop ships, laid the mines and mine barrages, swept German mines and patrolled the nets, and were frequently attacked by German surface vessels. At night the Straits were patrolled by drifters and illuminated by searchlights and flares from trawlers and paddle-steamers to force submarines to dive and thereby risk hitting the deep mines or becoming entangled in the nets.

On the night of the 14/15 February 1918 the Jeannie Murray was one of 58 drifters on duty, when they were attacked by seven German destroyers (the last attack on the Dover Patrol). Two drifters were damaged, and one trawler and seven drifters were sunk, including the Jeannie Murray. The entire crew of the Jeannie Murray was lost - 2 officers and 12 ratings, all reservists and mostly fishermen. As Frederick's body was never recovered he is commemorated on the Chatham Naval War Memorial.


  • Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
  • Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914-19 CD
  • Medal Rolls Index Cards
  • North East War Memorials Project website
  • Register of certificated teachers, CC/Ed 277 (no.2639) 
  • Durham St. Giles baptism register, EP/Du.SG 112, p.75
  • South Moor Greenland Junior Boys School log book, E/St 26, pp.index,84,93,96,98-102,104-105
  • 1911 Census return, RG 14/29852
  • Durham Advertiser, 3 May 1918, p.4(c)
  • Dover Straits raid; warship crews