Fred HORTON
Rank: Private
Number: 52168
Unit: 19th Battalion King’s (Liverpool) Regiment
Date of Death: 9 April 1917
Age: 26
Cemetery: Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais, France

Fred lived all his life in the Bramhall area until he enlisted into the army. The earliest reference to the family is the 1901 Census when they were recorded as living at 56 Moss Lane. Herbert and Mary Horton had three children and 10 year old Fred was the oldest. His younger brothers were Herbert (then 5) and James (2). When the Census was taken, Fred wasn't at home - he was staying with his grandmother elsewhere in Bramhall.

Fred was a talented artist, drawing in black and white and painting watercolours. It was a natural talent and he had never had a lesson. Prior to joining the army in Manchester, Fred had worked as Bramhall's auxiliary postman for about four years. He originally joined one of the Territorial Battalions of the Manchester Regiment (service number: 3055), but never served abroad with the Regiment. He was probably transferred to the King's Regiment when he finished training and went overseas towards the end of 1916.

A major offensive around the French town of Arras had planned for some while. It was intended to divert German forces away from the main attack which would be undertaken by the French on the River Aisne a week later.

The main attack would start at 5.30am on 9 April, but the King's would not be in the first waves. The four battalions of the 89th Brigade would be part of the overlapping units that were intended to carry the attack forward. They would not "go over the top until 3.30pm. The official history of 89th Brigade was written by it's Commander- Brigadier General F C Stanley (brother of the Earl of Derby). He writes "On the night of the 8th, we had got our men into their forming up trenches in rather sunken roads and any bit of cover we could find, with orders that they were not on any account to show themselves. They lay absolutely still and I am sure the Boche never expected anything."

Fred was part of a two-man Lewis gun team. The Battalion had several of these teams of light machine guns. One man would fire the gun whilst the other maintained ammunition supplies. They would go forward with the infantry and give covering fire for the attack. However, Fred would be killed before he could attack.

As soon as the leading Battalions started to advance, the Germans realised, of course, that a major attack was underway. They brought all of their artillery to bear on the advancing troops and those still in assembly trenches. One of these shells landed in the British assembly trench, killing Fred and a number of others in the Lewis gun section. He has no known grave and, possibly, there was nothing left of him to bury.

Later, the Battalion did advance but, in common with most other units that day, the attack failed and they suffered many casualties.

In the early 1920s, when the War Graves Commission collated its casualty information, Mr & Mrs Horton were living at 40 Ack Lane, Bramhall. The Commission's website wrongly records it as Back Lane.

   
           
   
     
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