Fred ETCHELLS
Rank: Private
Number: G/14931
Unit: 7th Battalion QUEEN'S (ROYAL WEST SURREY) REGIMENT
Date of Death: 16 July 1917
Age: 21
Cemetery: Menin Gate Memorial, Ieper, Belgium

Fred was born in Compstall, the son of Fred and Fanny. The family later moved to Thornton House, Cote Green, Marple Bridge. This is thought to have been during the War or shortly before it as all of Fred's social life remained in Compstall. He'd been educated at St Martin's School and had attended evening classes at Ludworth School. A keen sportsman, he played football in the winter and had been Secretary of the local Wesleyan Football Club. In the summer, his game was bowls and, in 1915, he had won a "handsome prize" in a competition at the Compstall Conservative Club. For his work as a clerk, he travelled into Manchester to the offices of the Good Department of the London & North Western Railway Company on Mosley Street.

In July of 1916, Fred travelled to Buxton to join the army and was assigned to the Royal Fusiliers (service number 11515). He trained in Edinburgh but, before going on active service, he was transferred to the West Surreys. His brother, Frank, was then serving with the Royal Engineers.

Fred was one of the Battalion stretcher bearers but was in his dug-out when he was killed, as described by a letter to his mother from Captain R C Haggard. "Just before dark, the enemy put down a heavy barrage of shells on the sector held by my company and one of the shells had the great misfortune to hit the shelter in which your son was sitting. It may be some comfort to you to know that death was instantaneous and that he cannot have felt any pain. He was always a most excellent boy and I was very pleased to have him in my company. He had also been doing very good work while we were in the trenches. He was in excellent spirits - always smiling and very popular with all his companions."

Fred has no known grave. It cannot be known if his comrades, realising there was no hope, decided not to dig the bodies out of the dugout, or if there was simply nothing left of him to bury.

   
           
   
     
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