Fred Gelder enlisted with the 23rd (1st Sportsman’s) Battalion in Lancaster on 27th April 1917. The Battalion was formed by Mrs Emma Cunliffe-Owen at the Hotel Cecil in The Strand, London on 25th September 1914, after she had gained permission from Lord Kitchener.
After training at Edinburgh Castle, Ipswich and Newmarket,
Gelder arrived in Boulogne, France on 1st April 1918.
Whilst Gelder was serving, his Battalion saw action during the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, the Battles of the Arras and the Battle of Cambrai.
In his diary, written in a pocket address book, Gelder mentions several near misses, from a raid on the 14th May where ‘7 of us got detached. Rough time, nuff said’, to a ‘very near shave’ where he ‘Got out safe’ on 19th May. From the 8th to 10th June we find Gelder hard at work digging holes on the Front Line with no access to water, which he calls the ‘…Worst three days ever spent in the Front Line.’
One month later, on 9th July 1918, Frank Gelder is wounded and is sent to the 43rd Casualty Clearing Station, based at Frevent. He was operated on under chloroform before midnight the same day. He left France on 22nd July and arrived in Southampton the next day. He received further treatment at the Royal Alexandra Infirmary in Paisley until 21st September, when he was then recommended for discharge.
On 21st October 1918, Frank was finally discharged and put into civies at Glasgow. In his last diary entry, dated 26th October, Frank writes:
Thus ending my army career thank God.