Almost nothing is known about Fred, other than he was born in the Stockport and lived at 48 Bennett Street with his wife, Alice. For some reason, he didn’t enlist locally but chose to travel to Chester to join up. His service number suggests this was relatively early in the War and he was probably an original member of 103rd Brigade which was formed in November of 1914.
The Brigade, part of the Army’s 23rd Division, went overseas in the summer of 1915 and fought with distinction throughout the Battle of the Somme in the following year. The next major action was at the Third Battle of Ypres which started on 31 July 1917. By the autumn, the attacks were coming to a slow end and the whole Division was transferred to the Italian front at the end of October.
At the beginning of June 1918, the Brigade was in position on the Asiago Plateau where it fired to support infantry raids on the Austrians on the 1st, 6th and 7th of the month. On the 15th, the enemy launched a major attack which would later be officially designated as the Battle of the Piave. At 3am, the gun positions came under heavy Austrian bombardment. This was followed by the infantry attack at 8am. All the batteries came under “neutralising fire” but managed to remain in action.
The infantry assault was not succeeding in this particular sector and the attacks died down by midday. All the batteries continued to fire at groups of troops who were moving up as reinforcements or those who were being relieved from their front line. Four of the Brigade’s 24 guns had been put out of action. Six men were dead and another seventeen, including Fred, had been wounded. He died shortly afterwards, probably at a nearby field hospital.