A por­trait of life as a royal chauf­feur in the

Black Country Bugle - - YOUR LETTERS - By JOHN WORK­MAN

WE have to thank Bu­gle reader Peter Ed­wards for bring­ing to our at­ten­tion an­other fas­ci­nat­ing story con­nected with the Field fam­ily of Wolver­hamp­ton.

Peter be­came friends with Ken Field when they both worked at Guy Mo­tors and af­ter be­ing taken ill dur­ing his re­tire­ment Ken asked Peter to be­come cus­to­dian of his fam­ily his­tory, sto­ries and arte­facts that were as­so­ci­ated with his father Henry, his un­cle Fred and him­self. Sadly Ken died in 2003 but Peter was keen to tell these sto­ries on his be­half.

In Bu­gle 1366 we pub­lished the story about Henry Field and his First World War ex­ploits, hav­ing re­ceived despatches and a signed cer­tifi­cate in 1919 from the War Min­is­ter at the time, Win­ston Churchill. Henry’s brother Fred, who was born in Comp­ton Road, also served in the First World War for the Air Force and af­ter his safe re­turn worked at Ban­tock House and then for the Earl of Dudley as a chauf­feur. It is com­mon knowl­edge that the Earl of Dudley was very close to the Royal Fam­ily, and the Earl’s home at Him­ley House had been of­fered as a hon­ey­moon des­ti­na­tion for The Prince Ge­orge and Princess Ma­rina in the au­tum of 1934. Af­ter their mar­riage they were con­ferred with the ti­tle Duke and Duchess of Kent and dur­ing that time Fred was poached to be­come their of­f­cial chauf­feur, af­ter a rec­om­men­da­tion from the Earl of Dudley no doubt.

Ab­di­ca­tion

Fred must have been privy to many sen­sa­tional episodes in the life of the Roy­als in the decade lead­ing up to the Sec­ond World War, in par­tic­u­lar the ab­di­ca­tion of the Duke of Kent’s elder brother Ed­ward VIII. In news­pa­per cut­tings that Peter had sent with a splen­did pho­to­graph of the Duke of Kent ar­riv­ing at a func­tion in 1938, Fred Field hav­ing just driven him to his des­ti­na­tion and look­ing on from be­hind, gave the fol­low­ing de­tails:

Chauf­feur

“Fred­die Field, the man who drove the Duke of Wind­sor at the time of his ab­di­ca­tion, has de­cided it’s time to re­tire. Right now 65 year old Fred­die, who claims to have driven var­i­ous mem­bers of the Royal Fam­ily nearly half a mil­lion miles dur­ing his 30 years’ ser­vice, is chauf­feur to the Duchess of Kent.”

An­other read: “Driv­ing the Duchess of Kent dur­ing her tour of Shrop­shire was the duchess’s Wolver­hamp­ton born chauf­feur, Fred­er­ick Field, who has been driv­ing mem­bers of the Royal Fam­ily for 29 years. Mr Field was born in a house op­po­site Wolver­hamp­ton Gram­mar School, Comp­ton Road, and as a young man served his ap­pren­tice­ship at the old Star En­gi­neer­ing works in Fred­er­ick Street. He later be­came driver to the Prince of Wales, now Duke of Wind­sor, and then to the Duke and Duchess of Kent.

“Mr Field joined King Ed­ward VIII dur­ing the ab­di­ca­tion cri­sis and drove him from Fort Belvedere to Wind­sor when he made his fa­mous ab­di­ca­tion broad­cast to the na­tion. He also drove the King from Wind­sor Cas­tle to Portsmouth where the King boarded the de­stroyer HMS Fury to leave for France.”

Fred and his Rolls Royce with the Dis­tic­tive Duke of Kent regis­tra­tion num­ber YR 11 seen here at Kens­ing­ton Palace in 1957

Prince Michael, Princess Alexan­dra and Fred Field circa 1945

Duchess of Kent with Fred Field

Kent in 1934

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