Frederick JACKSON
Rank: Private
Number: 260168
Date of Death: 6 September 1917
Age: 21
Cemetery: New Irish Farm Cemetery, Ieper, Belgium

Fred's parents, Joseph and Martha, had married at St Matthew's Church, Stockport in the late spring of 1896. He may have been their only child and, certainly, had no brothers or sisters listed when the Census was taken in 1901. The family was then living at 6 Bulkeley Street, Edgeley and Joseph earned his living as a railway shunter. As with many local people, Fred would find work in one of Stockport's hatworks and is believed to have worked for Christy Ltd before he enlisted into the army.

He joined up in town and was assigned to the King's Shropshire Light Infantry. His service number, 203812, indicates he was assigned to the Regiment's 4th Battalion. This was, almost certainly, the 2/4th Battalion which remained in the UK as a training reserve unit for the 1/4th Battalion which was on active service. It is not known if Fred joined the 1/4th when it returned from Empire garrison duty in Singapore in June 1917 or if he was immediately transferred to the Warwicks when he arrived in France.

Although Fred's official date of death is given as above, it is almost certain he was actually killed during an attack the previous evening.

Monday, 3 September was a quiet day in the middle of the Third Battle of Ypres. British forces had been slowly fighting their way up the Passchendaele Ridge since 31 July. It had been very costly in casualties on both sides but the defenders, well entrenched and with well positioned gun emplacements, always fared better. Several attempts had been made in the Warwicks' sector to capture some of these emplacements on Hill 35. The word "hill" is something of a misnomer but in this generally flat landscape even a small knoll was a strategic position where pill boxes housing machine gunners would always be positioned to command the area.  Attempts had been made by other units to capture the Hill but they had been unsuccessful. Another attempt would be by the Warwicks at 10pm.

The attack was well planned. There would be an intense fire by the British machine gunners and rifle grenadiers. The heavy artillery would then drop a "box barrage" all around the pillboxes to cut them off from reinforcements. A fake attack would be made on one flank whilst, on the other, the men of "C" Company would rush the push boxes. However, the preliminary fire failed to neutralise the German machine gunners and their fire remained much too heavy for the attack to succeed. The Warwicks were back in their trenches by midnight.

The next day was quiet but a further attempt to capture the positions was to be made in the evening of the 5th. Heavy artillery pounded the Germans all day. At "zero hour, 8.45pm, the artillery started to roll a barrage across No Man's Land. The men of "B" Company kept close behind its protection. There was a final 5 minutes shelling of the pill boxes and then the Warwicks assaulted. But, in spite of the all day shelling, the Germans still manned their machine guns and were able to cut down the leading platoons of attackers. The troops behind reached the emplacements and severe close quarter fighting took place for an hour. The accuracy of the British artillery shelling actually now became a problem as it was impossible to send up reinforcements for "B" Company. Small groups of the Warwicks still tried to fight their way into the pill boxes but without success and they were withdrawn at 11.30pm. Thirteen men were known to have been killed and another 7 were missing. A further 56 had been wounded. From 1am on the 6th, new troops moved up to replace the 2/6th Battalion in the front line.

When the War Graves Commission collated its casualty information in the early 1920s, Mr & Mrs Jackson had moved a few doors away to 15 Bulkeley Street.

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