Fred Utley M.M.
Rank: Lance Corporal
Number: 265416
Unit: B Company, 1/6th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment
Date of Death: 8th March 1917
Age: 22
Cemetery: Stockport Borough Cemetery

Fred's parents, Charles & Hannah,  lived at 46 York Street, Edgeley. He was a pre-war member of the Territorials and was mobilised when war was declared in August 1914. The Battalion's early months of service are described here. Fred's original service number was 1585

On 19 July 1916, "B" Company took part in a raid on the enemy's trench and, for his actions, Fred was awarded the Military Medal. The raid is described in the Battalion's History:-

"On July 19th, the Battalion in conjunction with the troops on each flank took part in an operation, which formed part of a bigger objective undertaken by the XI Corps. The raiding party was com­manded by Captain R. Kirk, the left half being entrusted to 2nd Lieut. Casson.

A report on the operation states that a pipe mine was blown up in Red Dragon Crater with success. Immediately after this the left raiding party, making a line between two smaller craters, arrived at the third crater. On arrival they found that the crater had been consolidated by the enemy on the near lip, and was occupied by about 12 to 15 of the enemy. There were also about five dugouts under the lip, and the crater was connected to the enemy front line by two saps going to the right and left.

This party, under 2nd Lieut. Casson, at once occupied the saps and crater, killing about 4 or 5 of the enemy as they entered, by revolver and rifle fire, the bombers working their way round the dugouts, which were bombed plentifully. Two of the enemy came out of the last dugout and gave them­selves up. Time did not permit of this party's doing more, owing to heavy fire from hostile trench mortars and rifles. It therefore returned with two prisoners, having sustained but very slight casualties. It is estimated that about 12 of the enemy were killed.

The right party, in conjunction with the pipe line explosion, were in position in No Man's Land at the time and moved forward to occupy the sap in the rear of Red Dragon Crater with the object of cutting off the enemy in the sap-head.

This party came under very hostile fire both from trench mortars and~ rifles, but pushed forward and gained a sap, which they found to be mostly blown in and unoccupied. Owing to the heavy fire which was being directed to this point from the enemy's trench, they could not make further headway. They stayed out for 15 minutes and then withdrew to our trenches, sustaining one casualty.

On the whole the operation was a great success and all ranks behaved splendidly. The hostile retaliation was fairly heavy on the front line, saps and support line, which had been knocked about considerably in places.

The two prisoners were sent down under escort to Westminster Bridge, and handed over to an officer of the 118th Infantry Brigade Staff. For this exploit 2nd Lieut. Casson was awarded the Military Cross."

Early in 1917, Fred was wounded. The details are not known but, after treatment in France, he returned to England and was a patient at the Royal Victoria Hospital when he died. He was buried with full military honours. The Union Jack was draped over the coffin. Three volleys were fired over the grave by members of the Cheshire Regiment and the "Last Post" was sounded.

One of the men in the firing party was 2nd Lieut Tom Casson. He died in a grenade accident a few weeks later.

The booklet "Stockport Lads Together" by David Kelsall contains further information about Fred and the raid.

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