Frederick HOWES
Rank: Private
Number: 46714
Unit: 19th Battalion MANCHESTER REGIMENT
Date of Death: 31 July 1917
Age: 27
Cemetery: Menin Gate Memorial, Ieper, Belgium

Almost nothing is known for certain about Frederick. Regimental records published after the War indicate that he was living in Stockport when he enlisted into the army at Manchester. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records that his widow was called Gertrude. By the early 1920s, she had remarried and become Mrs Matthews and was living at 44 Lark Hill Road, Stockport. The family history website, FreeBMD, records the registration of a marriage between a Frederick Howes and Gertrude Leatherbarrow in the Chorlton area in June quarter of 1915. This may well have been them.

If it was the right couple, then it's consistent with them marrying round about the time that Frederick  joined the army. His service number certainly dates to mid-1915 or a bit later and he will have gone overseas in the later summer of 1916 as part of a draft of replacements for casualties during the Battle of the Somme.

The day on which Frederick was killed was the opening day of the Third Battle of Ypres, often known as Passchendaele. Zero hour was set for 3.50am and the 19th Manchesters would be in the second wave of the attack, in support of the 2nd Green Howards.

"A" and "B" Companies had assembled in Crab Crawl Tunnel, near Maple Copse to the east of Ypres (now Ieper). By the time they were due to move forward, wounded troops from the leading units were already returning and blocking the exits from the tunnel. Men could only get out in ones and twos and it meant they were unable to properly get into their attack formation. As they waited in the open, for others to join them, there were many casualties.

"C" and "D" were to the rear in Maple Copse. As "D" moved forward it came under very heavy shellfire causing many casualties. By the time the reached the original British front line, their numbers had been so decimated that they were unable to advance any further into the attack proper. "C" had better luck and, together, with remnants of the other Companies, they pushed on to reach where the leading units were now held up.

By now, the Germans had remanned their strongpoints and were sweeping the ground with heavy machine gun fire, supported by artillery shelling. By 6.30am, it was clear that there was no chance of making any further advance and the Battalion "dug in" at this position. Over 60 men were dead, including Frederick and another local man, Harry Wood.

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