Fred WRENCH
Rank: Private
Number: 241272
Unit: 1/6th Battalion CHESHIRE Regiment
Date of Death: 6 June 1918
Age: 20
Cemetery: Soissons Memorial, Aisne, France

Fred is one of six brothers who served in the army. Arthur and Charles are also remembered on the Cheadle memorial. The family lived at 4 Holmes Street, Cheadle.

Fred had been employed by a Mr Cartwright of Cheadle Hulme, who may have owned a poultry farm. He attended St Cuthbert's church and played for the local football club

He enlisted when he was 18, into Stockport's local Territorial Battalion and was killed just 10 days before his 21st birthday.

Fred would have been in almost constant action since the Germans launched their massive offensive on 21 March 1918. Along the Western Front, there had been many thousands killed, wounded or taken prisoner. Reorganisations of whole Divisions became necessary and, in late May, the 1/6th Cheshires were in the process of moving from 39th to 25th Division. On 27th May, the Battalion was moving by train, near to Fismes, when it was attacked by aeroplanes, grenades and machine guns. Now alert, the Cheshires spotted an enemy outpost. A party went from the train, attacked and captured the Germans bringing them back to the train. The train then ran back through the French outposts to Fere en Tardenois, where they bivouacked. The Regiment's Official History comments that if the Germans had not alerted the men by firing on the train, they could have captured the whole Battalion. A lucky escape!

A few days later, on 3 June, the Battalion was some 12 kilometres south west of the city of Reims. Over the next two days, the troops were frantically digging trenches in anticipation of a further German attack. They were subject to regular harassing artillery and small arms fire. By 6 June, the preparations had been finalised and the Cheshires were now in the support positions at a wood called Bois d'Eccliste. At 3am, there was a very heavy artillery bombardment and the German infantry then attacked a nearby hill, being held by the 9th Cheshires.

Fred's Battalion were not called on to go into action and, it can be assumed, he must have been killed by an artillery shell. He was one of only two members of the Battalion to be killed over the three days. The other was George Turner. Neither body was ever recovered and identified.

(NB; Original research by John Hartley for the Cheadle & Gatley War Memorials website

   
           
   
     
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