Born in Millwall, a twin, and the youngest of eleven children, Fred went to the Isle of Dogs School in London. In September 1939 Fred was evacuated to Wells with his twin sister and younger nephew. The forty children from the Isle of Dogs School shared Wells Blue School premises, so Fred was billeted in Wells. He and his sister returned to London in November 1939, but were bombed during the Blitz and so returned to Wells with their parents in 1940. Fred left school at fourteen and worked in W H Smith. After finishing his National Service Fred worked for Pauls the decorators for forty years.