Frederick was the son of an Oxford draper. He studied at Oriel College and became a teacher. He enlisted as soon as war broke out and achieved the rank of Major.
Oxford High School
Frederick Tom Skinner was born in 1880 in Oxford, where his father was a draper. He attended Oxford High School and then Oriel College. From 1905 he taught at King Edward School in Bath, and married Frances Lewis in 1906. He was the first editor of the school’s ‘Edwardian’ magazine and captain of the school cadet force.
Portsmouth Grammar School
In 1913 Frederick and Frances moved to Southsea, and Frederick began teaching at Portsmouth Grammar School. He was 34 at the start of the war, and enlisted straight away, joining the newly-formed 1st Portsmouth Battalion, which was the 14th Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment. He seems to have entered as a temporary Captain, based on his previous experience.
The battalion remained in England until March 1916, when it landed at Le Havre. It took part in an attack in June near Richebourg l’Avoue,* and it may have been after this that Frederick was promoted to Major, becoming second in command of the battalion of about 1,000 men.
Disaster for Portsmouth
On 3 September 1916 Frederick was in command near Beaumont-Hamel, early in the Battle of the Somme. The day is remembered as disastrous for the people of Portsmouth: 587 men of this local battalion went into action and 457 were killed or injured. Frederick died aged 36. He is commemorated at Serre Road Cemetery No. 1. At the time of his death his wife was living in Woodstock Road, having apparently moved back to Oxford whilst he was away.
* Francis Hanby, also on the war memorial, died in this attack.