On the 2nd January 1940 Frederick enlisted in the army, and as he was able to drive was assigned to the Royal Army Service Corps. In what was a bitter cold winter he did his basic training in Herne Bay. The accompanying photograph shows him wearing a much-needed heavy overcoat. He later moved to Gloucester, where he joined the 5th Ambulance Car Company. By March he was driving to Dover and from there on to Dunkirk in France as part of the British Expeditionary Force. He was just 20 years old. He stayed there until the final part of the evacuation, as the German Army steadily advanced.
He left Dunkirk around the 1st June with the 5th Ambulance, driving down the coast evacuating wounded soldiers and airmen from hospitals. About 20 days after leaving Dunkirk he left the ambulance in a field and they were all taken onto a boat home, making their escape to England, arriving in Plymouth on 23rd of June. He was given leave and a rail pass to Durham where his wife was expecting their first child, and where she had gone home for the birth. Frederick arrived in Durham on the 26th the day before his son was born. The baby was named John Charles Harvey after Frederick’s brother who had been killed during the retreat from Belgium on the 16th May while serving with the 1st Battalion Royal Berks.
At the end of his leave, Frederick went to Heckmondwike in Yorkshire for a while before travelling up to Scotland where he embarked for Egypt. The journey took six weeks because the ship had to avoid the Mediterranean and travel by way of the Cape, calling at Freetown and Cape Town before making its way up the west coast of Africa and on through the Red Sea to Suez and on to Cairo where they picked up water lorries for the Desert Campaign.
They then proceeded to Sidi Barinni in Lybia where they were attached to the Armour Brigade “The Desert Rats”. After several months they journeyed to Jerusalem, and on from there by rail to Aleppo in Syria. After calling at Damascus they returned to Alexandria. They were picked up from there and sent by ship to Tubruk on the 23rd of August 1941, where they stayed until December of that year. A lack of action meant that there was never much to do, and so to keep the men busy the officers instructed the men to build dummy tanks from bits of scrap cloth and wood from packing cases. This took some time, but after the job was completed a single German bomber came and destroyed the dummy tanks... but with wooden bombs. They managed to be taken out just before Tubruk fell and returned back to Alexandria by way of Mursa Matrun.
The day after his 23rd birthday, 21st February, 1942, Frederick left Alexandria for Port Suez they arrived the following day but had to wait two further days before they got on a boat. Finally on 27th they sailed for Bombay, India, arriving on the 8th of March. From Bombay they moved on to Calcutta, and were assigned to Louis Mountbatten and General Wingate’s long range penetration force into Burma. Here, as part of the Air Supply Unit, their job was driving supplies to the airfield, where he would assist in the loading and unloading the transport and the aeroplane which was to drop food and supplies to the ‘Chindit’ forces on the ground behind Japanese lines. It is not known whether he actually had any opportunity to fly with the supplies, but he was involved in both Imphal and Kohima.
On 9th June 1942 Frederick reported in his diary that he had been on manœuvres and on the 10th, that he had been bitten by a snake. As a result he spent a couple of days in hospital. On 15th the monsoons started. On 27th June he recorded his son John’s 2nd birthday. He was based in Ranchi and records that although he was on guard duty on Christmas day it had been a ‘fairly good Xmas’.
He left Ranchi in 1944 and went to Bangalore in the south of India He stayed there quite a while before eventually getting a train which after two weeks travelling got back to Bombay. He left Bombay early 1945 came home via the Suez Canal through the Mediterranean to Gibraltar, arriving back home in Portsmouth in February 1945.
The next mission in which Frederick was involved was disarming German guns and radios and equipment in Oslo, and taking charge of them as prisoners of war. He was later to do similar duties in the Channel Islands. He was finally demobbed in late 1946 and allowed to return home.