Frederick Brewer

(1891-1973) - POW who shared food with enemy

As a young man Frederick served on the training ship 'Foudroyant'. Not wanting to kill anyone, he joined the Royal Army Medical Corps in the war and, as a POW, worked on a German farm. Here he shared his Red Cross food parcels with the elderly German farmer and his wife.

Credit: Penryn Museum

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Frederick Brewer was born on 21 August 1891 in Falmouth Road, Redruth.

As a young man he served on the training ship Foudroyant in Falmouth Harbour. When war was declared in 1914 Fredrick wanted to join the Royal Navy but was turned down.  However, this did not dim his wish to serve his country, although he felt that he could not join the Army because of his belief that he could not kill another person.  He spoke to one of his instructors who suggested that he could, with his First Aid skills, join the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC), which he did.

Fredrick was soon serving on a hospital train in France which got caught behind enemy lines. Frederick could have escaped but chose to stay with the wounded and so became a prisoner of war. Throughout his time as a prisoner in the camps he kept in touch with his fiancée Lilly in Penryn and hinted at how bad things were.

In one letter home he stated his luck had turned for the good and that he was now out of the camp working on a farm.  During his time there he noticed that the farmer and his wife were near to starving while he was now receiving parcels of food from the Red Cross. He felt that he could not watch them suffer, so shared his parcels with the enemy.

Frederick returned home in 1919 and married Lilly and had four children. He died on 1 March 1973.  His daughter Betty has passed on this story.

Credit: Penryn Museum