Frederick PYOTT
Rank: Private
Number: 12271
Unit: 10th Platoon, C Company, 1st Battalion CHESHIRE Regiment
Date of Death: 13 June 1915
Age: 29
Cemetery: Menin Gate Memorial, Ieper, Belgium

Fred had lived all his life in the Stockport area until he enlisted in the army on 20 August 1914. he was married to Rose Ann and they lived at 10 Adcroft Street, in the Higher Hilgate area of town, with their three children. He worked as a doubler at the Wear Cotton Mill of Samuel Moorhouse Ltd (and is included in the Company's entry on page 502 of the Manchester City Battalions' Roll of Honour). His father had died some time before the War, but his mother and a brother and sister also lived locally.

In his spare time, he took a keen interest in local sports, particularly in following the football teams. He attended education classes at the Hempshaw Lane Wesleyan Mission and was a committed practicing Christian. In a letter home to one of his Sunday School teachers, he wrote " I am still doing my best to lead a Christian life. I am fully convinced that God's guiding hand has been with me and I thank him from the bottom of my heart for having up to the present kept me safe."

The day after joining up, he started his training at Birkenhead and, subsequently, at South Queensferry in Scotland, before going overseas on 16 February 1915. While he was on active service, Fred kept up a correspondence with George Higson, his manager at the Mill. In one letter, he describes what was probably his first experience of a major battle (although the Cheshires were not called on to go into action)

"No doubt you will be thinking that I have gone "west", but I don't think the Germans have got a bullet with my name and number on yet. We have had it rather still lately. We went into the trenches on March 10th and stayed there for fifteen days........One of the most exciting periods of my life was on March 14th and I can assure you I shall never forget it as long as I live..... The Germans made a furious bombardment of our trenches and tried to take us by surprise. This is how it started. Our trenches having been undermined, the Germans tried to blow us up. Then there was a terrific bombardment, bullets and shells raining for two hours. It was a living hell and how we came out of it alive must have been a miracle. I cannot for the life of me describe it in words. Our artillery bombarded the Germans and we could see our shells bursting in the air along our trenches. Our artillery is marvellous, twice better than the Germans. During the whole of the bombardment we only lost three men killed and the Germans must have had heavy casualties as our shells were dropping amongst them".

In another letter, he describes the use of poison gas (first used by the Germans on 22 April 1915) "They had been using shells containing poison gas and suffocated a lot of men in the trenches on the hill. It was an awful sight to see the men gasping for breath. The gas turns their bodies and the ground a yellow colour. As we were going up to the trench I saw some of the men, who seemed in great agony. We held the position all day and at night we were strongly reinforced. I saw a regiment make a bayonet charge on the Germans and some of our men helped them and regained the portion of ground the Germans had got through their dirty mean trick. They are just finding out that England's "little army" is a bit too big for them, they cannot beat us with using gas so now they are trying to do so by putting arsenic in the water, but they are not sharp enough."

On 12 June 1915, the Battalion was at Zillebeke - a couple of kilometres south of the town centre of Ypres (now Ieper). The unit's War Diary notes that, during the day, the troops from both sides were shouting to each other, leaning over the trench parapets. An officer ordered the men to take cover as it was likely to be a ruse and the Germans could open fire. The next day, the Diary records that 2nd Lieutenant Greenwood reported that early in the morning "the Germans began shouting "good morning" and "what are you having for breakfast" and similar remarks. No response was made to these remarks which ceased on fire being opened."  There is no mention of casualties but Fred is known to have been the only one killed that day. His lack of a known grave suggests he might have suffered a direct hit from an artillery shell.

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