The Friends of Highland Road Cemetery The Friends of Highland Road Cemetery



Father Frederick Freeley

Father Frederick Freely was a rather remarkable man, having graduated in Theology from the University of Fribourg in Switzerland and gone on to become a famous footballer in that country - indeed he was also the first international player/referee.
He left Fribourg during World War I and cycled through France to Britain where he became Chaplain to the forces. Freeley served with the 7th Division, the 21st Field Ambulance, British Expeditionary Forces, at Ypres and in Italy. He was awarded the Military Cross for his work on the front line. The circumstances surrounding the incident were recalled by Mr C. Waite of Copnor in a letter to the Evening News on August 15th 1942. "Captain Freeley was in a dug-out used for an advanced dressing station when a shell burst in the entrance and blew down the doorway. There were about 40 stretcher cases at the time, and Father Freely was the only man left alive to tend to them. In pitch darkness he felt his way round the dug-out, lifting the wounded back onto their stretchers, speaking a word of comfort and good cheer to one and another as he groped his way around. It was many long hours before a way was eventually dug through but the rescuers found Captain Freeley still going calmly about the job of succouring the wounded."
In 1924 he became priest at St Barbara's Chapel in Hilsea barracks and also found time to build a chapel on Cambridge Road, Portsmouth (adjacent to what is now HMS Temeraire). The Garrison Chapel as it became known was opened in 1928. He was instrumental in the setting up of 5 shelters for poor boys in Portsmouth (at 360 London Road, 1,2 and 3 Hilsea Terrace and North's Hotel, Cambridge Junction) and he helped out at St John's College.
On 11th August 1942 he was about to celebrate Mass in the chapel at St John's when he collapsed by the altar and later died in an ante-room. He was so venerated by the soldiers at Hilsea that they erected a plaque in St Barbara's which was later demolished. Nothing was known of the whereabouts of the plaque until old boys at the school tracked it down and re-erected it in the school chapel. See Memorials in Portsmouth for details of the Plaque.
The inscription on the grave reads "Sacred to the Memory of Father Frederick George Freeley C.F. M.C. Died 11th August 1942, Aged 60 Years. R.I.P. - 'He hath done all things well'."