Frederick Lamb was born late in 1874 in Birmingham, England. He and his wife Annie Smith joined the Church in 1909; their family – eventually reaching 10 children – became members of the Sparkbrook Branch in the Birmingham Conference.
Fred was called into the service of king and country with the outbreak of World War I and worked through his late 30s and early 40s in support of the British Navy. It was a much rougher life, among much rougher men, than he had been used to, but he tried to live his religion. He liked the men he worked with, despite their roughness – he wrote to his wife, “How little they know that I pray for them daily! God bless them!”
His letters home were soon datelined “somewhere in France” and sounded homesick: “In this camp of several thousands of men, I, possibly, am the only Latter-day Saint. I am pretty lonesome sometimes, thinking how insignificant I must be.” “May our prayers be answered soon, and this terrible business be over. I miss the society of my wife and children, as I also miss meeting with the saints.”
Early in June, 1917, Fred was part of a force assigned to unload a ship. Something happened that he describes only as “some confusion” – perhaps an order was misunderstood or ignored; perhaps cargo shifted and someone was injured, there was certainly shouting and disrespect and cursing. “I was arrested,” Fred wrote, “and taken to the guardroom, and left there for nine hours, charged with insolence and using obscene language.”
During those nine hours of Fred’s imprisonment, something remarkable happened. Fred was one of 28 men assigned to a “hut” – all 27 of his barracks mates were, in Fred’s term, “up in arms” over his arrest. “Several” – he didn’t report how many – of the non-commissioned officers under whom Fred had served at one time or another protested his arrest, claiming that they didn’t believe Fred had been insolent in any way, and they were adamant that he had not used obscene language at any time.
Two of Fred’s barracks mates, whom he described as “two of the worst men in the hut,” sought out the minister at the Y.M.C.A. to protest Fred’s arrest. In the minister’s words, the men said, “Now, sir, if it had been us, it would have been different. But this chap we have never heard say anything out of place; in fact, he often checks us when we are carrying on.” The minister believed them; Fred and he had had “many a pleasant conversation” about religion and faith. The minister went immediately to see Fred’s commanding officer.
Their multiple testimonials to Fred’s character – that he didn’t drink, that he conducted himself as a gentleman, and above all, that he never used foul language – convinced his officer that a mistake had been made, and Fred was released.
The incident, “although very unpleasant for me,” Fred wrote to Annie, “turned out to be really encouraging, and goes to prove how little we know concerning ourselves and our Father’s ways.”
Fred returned home safely at the end of the war and resumed his activity in the Sparkbrook Branch. In 1939, he and Annie emigrated to the United States. One of their first activities was to go to the Salt Lake Temple to be sealed to each other, and to have several of their deceased children sealed to them.
Fred passed away in 1962.