In August 1914 Frederick Butler was a 36 year old stud groom from Linslade employed on the Rothschild Estate at Ascott, Wing. Born in London in April 1878, he was just 5’2¼” tall with a slight deformity to one of the toes on his right foot.
The French Rothschilds had established stables at Ferrières close to Chantilly and Paris in 1835, moving their stud farm to Meautry near Deauville in 1879 but then subsequently also expanding facilities at Chantilly. The English Rothschilds established stables first at Gunnersbury then the Southcourt Stud Farm at Ascott, Leo de Rothschild’s horses twice winning the Derby. Leo de Rothschild’s sons, Evelyn and Anthony, both served in the Royal Bucks Hussars with Evelyn being mortally wounded in the charge at El Mughar in November 1917.
Tournan or, more correctly, Tournan-en-Brie in the Seine and Marne Department is close to Paris. Baron Edmond de Rothschild (1845-1934) owned the nearby Château Rothschild d’Armainvilliers in Gretz-Armainvilliers. Indeed, a plaque in Tournan commemorates Rothschild’s role as a town benefactor and also as a municipal councillor from 1884 to 1934. Consequently, the pass issued by the mayor of Tournan enabled Butler to travel between Armainvilliers and Tournan. Given that he was still in France when attested in 1916, Butler had clearly been working at Armainvilliers since 1914
Butler was attested under the Derby Scheme whilst in Paris in January 1916 and called up to be enlisted on 1 May 1917. His wife, Margaret, whom he had married in 1905, remained for the time being in Paris with their daughter – born in March 1917 – and was granted separation and other allowances of 19s.6d per week. Butler was posted to the 81st Squadron, Royal Army Service Corps at the Swaythling Remount Depot in Hampshire. He was kicked in the head by a horse which had been frightened by a passing car in November 1917 but fortunately the scalp wound proved a minor one. He was discharged in March 1919 and, by 1939, he was employed on the Waddesdon Estate of Baron Edmond’s son, James de Rothschild. He died in April 1953.