Martin Frenchard T STOKES
Rank: Private
Number: 5873
Date of Death: 28 September 1916
Age: 35 (based on 1901 Census)
Cemetery: Bray Vale British Cemetery, Bray-sur-Somme, France

William Evans Stokes and Amelia Trenchard married in London in 1871. It has not been possible to establish how he earned his living but the family seems to have moved around the country. Certainly  when Martin was born in about 1882, they were living in Kirkintilloch, Dumbartonshire. William died in 1898 in the Fulham area of London and, only three years later, Amelia and her four children had moved to the Stockport area and were living at 152 Turncroft Lane. Presumably, they later moved to  Bredbury as that is the local memorial on which Martin's name is inscribed

By the time of the Great War, Martin had moved to the Manningham area of Bradford and he enlisted into the army there. On 1 July 1916, British troops launched an attack that would later become known as the first day of the Battle of the Somme. The day saw the largest ever loss of troops with around 20,000 killed. Martin and his comrades were not in the thick of the action but several parties of the Battalion were ordered forward to support the attack on the German stronghold known as the Schwaben Redoubt. As on most of the battlefield, the attack in this sector was a failure.

Over the coming weeks, further attacks took place and there were significant successes on parts of the battlefield, but the Redoubt had remained in German hands. Although the West Yorkshires had spent time in the front line, they had not been called on to take part in any of these attacks. All this was to change on 28 September, when yet another attempt to capture the Redoubt would take place.

At 2am on the 27th, the men were ordered forward to trenches between the Leipzig Salient and the village of Thiepval. They would be in close support of the 7th Bedfordshires who would lead the assault. Each Company was in the open, taking cover in shell holes, on a frontage of about 250 yards. They were about 150 yards behind the Bedfords. At 3pm, they were ordered to form up prepare for the attack at 5pm. This was in full view of the Redoubt and the men were subject to considerable rifle and shell fire. They were relatively fortunate and only suffered about 16 casualties. The Regimental History records that the attack was cancelled.

During the night, both Battalions were ordered to form up again, ready to attack at 1pm. They lay out in the open again throughout the morning, but were practically undisturbed by enemy fire. The Commanding Officer later reported "It is not easy to unravel exactly what happened between zero hour and our men reaching the first objective at 1.45pm." They had moved forward in close support to the Bedfords and there had been fierce hand-to-hand fighting in the German front line, second line and support trenches.

Both battalions lost heavily and, by the time they had reach the first objective, the West Yorkshires only had two officers left. Parts of the Redoubt were still in German hands but their attack had cleared the enemy form its western face and the process of consolidating began. They held the position until relieved at dawn on the 29th. Martin's body was never recovered and identified.

After the War, Amelia moved once more and was living at 28 Park Avenue, Timperley. She must have moved in the early 1920s after submitting Martin's name for inclusion on the Bredbury Memorial.

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