William Reginald Frend
Rank: Captain
Unit: 2nd Battalion SHERWOOD FORESTERS
Date of Death: 21 September 1914
Age: 38
Cemetery: Chauny Communal Cemetery Extension, Aisne, France

William was the son of Edwin and Mrs Frend. His birth was registered in the late summer of 1875 (although, reporting his death, the Stockport newspapers gave his date of birth as 8 May 1877). He was regular soldier, being commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Sherwood Foresters, on 9 November 1898. He saw action in South Africa during the Boer War and was promoted to Lieutenant on 18 May 1900. Returning to the UK, he was again promoted on 21 September 1904 and, two years later, Captain Frend took up Regimental responsibilities as Adjutant of Volunteers (later the Territorials).

William had been born near Henley and is not thought to have had any local connection to the Stockport area in his early life. However, in the summer of 1907 he married a local woman. Phyllis Mills was the second daughter of local JP, Tom Mills of White Bank House, Brinnington. They are not thought to have lived locally and neither of their two children were born in the area. Their names are known for certain but an examination of birth registrations shows a Dorothea Frend, born in Plympton, in early 1912 (mother's maiden name also Mills).

On 6 December 1912, William was appointed Adjutant of the 2nd Battalion and, when War was declared on 4 August 1914, was at Battalion barracks at Sheffield. Mobilisation got under way quickly and the Sherwoods were amongst the second wave of British troops to land in France, on 10 September. Eleven days later, William would be dead.

The British Army had been forced into a dramatic retreat after its first engagement at the Battle of Mons but, by mid September was moving forward again as German supply lines became over-extended. On the 20th, the 2nd Battalion was called on to go into action for the first time near the village of Troyon.

They were then in reserve and reported to have been sat round in groups chatting about their first day in the trenches, from which they had just been relieved. News came that the Germans had attacked the British front line and broken through, capturing a strategic section. The battalionnwas ordered to make an immediate counter-attack.  As "A" and "C" Companies quickly moved, they could see a column of British prisoners being marched away from the front line. The advance came under immediate heavy machine gun fire from the front and left flank and there were many casualties. The attack was brought to a standstill until the other two companies could also get forward. Together the whole Battalion now attacked the Germans and retook the trenches. It had been an important victory but it had cost the lives of 44 men.

William had come through his first engagement unscathed but, the next day, as they tried to make the trenches deeper and more secure, they were heavily shelled for several hours and he was killed. He will have buried close to where he died but, after the War, many of these front line burial areas were closed as the land was returned to civilian use. A new cemetery was created at Chauny and William and approximately 1000 other British soldiers are now buried there.

When the War Graves Commission collated its casualty information in the early 1920s, Phyllis was living at 71 Cheyne Court, Chelsea. William's parents are believed to have died by then but had latterly been living in Brighton. It was, presumably, Phyllis' parents who arranged for William's name to be included on the Stockport War Memorial.

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