John Frederick IRWIN
Rank: Private
Number: 65482
Unit: 15th Battalion CHESHIRE REGIMENT
Date of Death: 18 July 1918
Age: 20
Cemetery: Esquelbecq Military Cemetery, Nord, France

Regimental records indicate Fred Irwin was born in Manchester and the family history website, FreeBMD, records the birth of a boy of the same name between October and December 1898. He was the son of J F W Irwin and F L Irwin, who by the time of the Great War were living at 18 Countess Street, Davenport, Stockport.

He worked for Hickson (or Higson), Lloyd & King in Manchester. In his spare time he was assistant scoutmaster of the 3rd Stockport Troop and Sergeant Major of the St George's Lads' Drill Company. He was also a member of the Church's Sunday School and Men's Bible Class.

Fred is understood to have been conscripted into the army on 26 February 1917 being assigned to the Cheshire Yeomanry, with 210465 as his service number. His on-line medal entitlement records at the National Archives makes no mention of this service suggesting that, after training, he was re-assigned to the 15th Battalion.

On 16 July 1918, the Battalion was at a position known as Mont Rouge near the Belgian village of Locre (now Loker), some 11 kilometres to the south west of Ypres (Ieper). The Battalion's War Diary records what happened:-

"The day opened with a heavy thunderstorm and later, enemy shells landed near Brigade HQ> This shelling continued all day. From about 7.30pm onwards, the roads behind our position were shelled with gas shells. Working parties were found by all Companies. Just as they were on the point of setting out, the enemy put a burst of 15mm shell on the road near Brigade HQ, killing Lt H A Wainwright and 4 Other Ranks, and wounding 13 others."

As well as Harry Wainwright, another local man, Frank Lively was killed. Fred was one of the 13 wounded. He would have received attention from the Battalion Medical Officer before starting on a process of evacuation to the rear. Probably after a journey of a few hours, he reached 2nd Canadian Casualty Clearing Station, about 20 kilometres away, over the border into France. Military surgeons at this field hospital would have done all they could to save his life, but he died two days later.

Fred is also commemorated on the War Memorial at St George's Church and much of the information about his life is taken from an earlier research project into the names on that Memorial.

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