Freund Beaumont was born in London on 15 February 1887, the second of five children of William Beaumont, a house painter, and his wife Emma.
In 1903 Beaumont started work as a boy clerk in the accountant general’s office of the British Postal Service. Three years later, he took a job working for our constituent London & County Bank. In 1909 London & County Bank merged with London & Westminster Bank, and Beaumont became an employee of the enlarged London County & Westminster Bank. By 1914 he was working at the bank’s London St James’ Street branch.
I have been settled here ('here' varies daily, but it's somewhere on earth and always quite six thousand miles from Piccadilly) for some months now, and have shaken down quite comfortably.
Letter from Assistant Paymaster Freund Beaumont to his bank colleagues, December 1915
During the First World War Beaumont volunteered to join the navy. His background in banking gave him valuable experience of handling cash and managing accounts and so, like many bankers in the navy, he became an Assistant Paymaster. By 1917 he was serving on board HMS Laurentic, a former White Star Line ocean liner which had been requisitioned at the outbreak of war and subsequently converted for armed merchant marine use.
On 25 January 1917 the Laurentic was on her way to New York, carrying a cargo which included £5m of gold. She struck two mines off the coast of Ireland and sank within an hour, killing 354 of those on board. Beaumont escaped the ship in one of the lifeboats, taking with him the pay ledger for which he was responsible – ‘faithful to the end’, as his Captain later noted. During the cold January night that followed, Beaumont gave his coat to a fellow survivor. He died later that night from exposure. Only 5 of the 36 occupants of the lifeboat survived; among them was the man to whom Beaumont had given his coat.
In a letter of condolence to Beaumont’s parents, Laurentic’s Captain called him 'very hard-working and good in every way; never a fault in his work, and always willing.'
Beaumont’s youngest brother Henry, nine years his junior, was killed in action in the Western Front almost exactly a month later, while serving as a Private in the Honourable Artillery Company.