Frederick Starnes was born on 11 October 1888 at Motueka. He was the son of Thomas Steven Briggs Starnes and Sarah Jane Starnes. The Starnes resided at Lower Moutere in the Tasman District.
He was a farmer before enlisting and worked for his father on their farm.
He enlisted as a single man on 12 August at the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. His serial number was 6/359. He was in command of 11 Platoon of the 12th (Nelson) Company Canterbury Infantry Battalion, NZEF.
He embarked on 16 October 1914 with the Main Body from Wellington which was destined later for the Suez Canal in Egypt. He saw action in Egypt with the Egyptian Expeditionary Force in 1914-1916, at Gallipoli in the Balkans in 1915, on the Western Front between 1916-1918 and the Asiatic war theatre in 1918.
Fred Starnes arrived in Egypt with the 12th Nelson Company 3 December 1914. The 12th were encamped at Zeitoun camp by January 1915 and trained hard in the desert. It appears that Starnes’s platoon was not involved at the Suez Affray of February 1915, as his commander Major Brereton speaks of no 9 and no 10 platoons in regards of the action there.
But after the landing 25 April 1915 at Anzac Cove, Major Brereton was with no 11 platoon led by Fred Starnes, shortly after the landing, during an action near Walker’s Ridge. They were pinned down by a Turkish sniper in a shallow trench and Fred said: “I will have a feed if it’s my last”. He was next shot by the sniper and the bullet broke his razor, which was in his pocket and landed on the skin of his leg. He was less lucky later on and was wounded and shipped off to England on the hospital ship ‘Glengorm Castle’ on 8 September 1915. He embarked fit for service for Egypt in February 1916.
He was promoted to Captain in March 1916. At the First Battle of the Somme, when the New Zealanders took over the Flers section late in September 1916, Captain Starnes was commanding the Canterbury Reserve Company. The 2nd Canterbury had attacked a ridge on 19 September but a German counter attack had driven them back and there were concerns of encirclement. Captain Starnes and his men arrived with the Reserves. The captain led from the front and rallied the men. The counter attack regained the lost ground. He was recommended for a Victoria Cross and was awarded an immediate DSO.
He was appointed 12th (Nelson) Company commander in May at the rank of Major.
After the war he returned to New Zealand being discharged on 16 February 1920. He married twice; firstly to May and then to Beatrice Taylor. He and Beatrice lived at Tauranga. He died on 12 October 1973 at Tauranga.