Frederick Castrow BLOCKLEY
Rank: Private
Number: 308200
Unit: 1/8th Battalion King’s (Liverpool) Regiment
Date of Death: 20 September 1917
Age: 32
Cemetery: Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, Belgium

Frederick was born in Preston and, after the War, his mother, Emma, was still living there at 25 Deepdale Road. He had moved to the Stockport by 1908, when he married Gertrude Elizabeth and they are believed to have set up home at 148 Wellington Road North, Heaton Norris.

Six digit service numbers were not issued to Territorial Battalion soldiers, like Frederick, until the beginning of 1917, so he cannot have been at the front for long when he was killed.

The action in which Frederick would be killed was to become known as the Battle of the Menin Road (part of the Third Battle of Ypres which had started on 31 July). It was to be a major attack astride the road which runs south east from the centre of Ypres (now Ieper).

The Battalion was to attack on the left of its Brigade with an objective to capture German trenches around a strongpoint known as Schuler Farm. The Regimental History notes that the men moved into assembly positions during the night and were ready for "zero hour" of 5.40am. The British artillery barrage opened on schedule, bombarding the enemy trenches and the King's men "went over the top". They immediately came under artillery, rifle and machine gun fire from the Farm. Many Germans had taken up advanced positions in shell holes and a shallow trench about 40 yards in front of their main Schuler Gallery Trench. The German fire then increased with machine gun fire coming from pill-boxes at the northern end of Schuler Gallery.

The History records "In the face of such opposition a momentary check took place, but in a very short space of time the Liverpool Irish rallied and swept like an angry flood over the shell holes and took up position in front of the Galleries shooting down or bayoneting the remaining Germans who refused to surrender."

The success of the attack was now becoming critical and the Battalion's reserves were ordered forward. This allowed officers to reform the men and attempt to capture the Farm. Several attempts were made but they were beaten back by the strength of the German fire. The men now had to dig-in and consolidate the gains, keeping the Farm under constant fire from Lewis gun, rifle fire and rifle grenades.

"During the afternoon, a white flag was fluttered out from the Farm for a few moments but was withdrawn; the ruse did not deceive the King's men. Some may think it was inhuman to refuse to recognise what has always been seen as a signal of surrender, but the enemy by frequent misuse of the white flag has deprived himself of the right to consideration."

The Germans continued to defend the farm throughout the coming night.

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