Fred Keene was the fifth of eleven children of Francis and Sarah Keene and was born in Park Street, Thame, on the 3rd April 1893. Fred was employed as a house boy before enlisting with the Royal Navy as a boy servant L/2470 on the 5th September 1910.
Serving initially on the shore establishment HMS Excellent on Whale Island, Portsmouth, he then went on to serve as Officer Steward in several ships before being posted to the scout cruiser HMS Pathfinder in October 1913.
On 5th September 1914, Pathfinder was serving with the Rosyth based 8th Destroyer Flotilla out on patrol from the Firth of Forth, and at 15:45 the cruiser was hit by a single torpedo fired from the German submarine U-21. The torpedo hit the forward magazine causing it to explode.
Pathfinder sank in four minutes. She was the first British warship sunk by a submarine in World War 1. There were only 18 survivors, 250 of the crew, including Officer Steward 1st class Fred Keene went down with ship.
The wreck site is now designated as a war grave. Fred Keene is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. In Thame his name is remembered on Thame War Memorial and the memorial boards of All Saints and Christchurch.