Edward and Ernest Fawkes were the two youngest children of Albert and Emma Fawkes. The 1901 Census found the family living at 85 Hardcastle Street, Edgeley. There were three older children – Albert, Margaret and Elsie.
Nothing is known of Edward’s early life but after leaving school he went to work for S & J Watts Ltd in Manchester. The Company was the largest wholesale drapery business in Manchester and had impressive premises at Portland Street (now the Britannia Hotel). In early September 1914, Edward enlsuited into the army, joining the second of the newly formed “Pals Battalions” of the Manchester Regiment. Details of the recruitment and training of the Battalion can be found here.
The men went overseas in November 1915 and Edward would be killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme. Shortly before the attack, he was transferred to the Trench Mortar Battery supporting the infantry so was not with his comrades crossing No Man’s Land in the Big Push.
Each Brigade (of four battalions) had a Trench Mortar Battery. They would be used for localised shelling of enemy machine gun posts and other targets to support the infantry attack. They were, of course, an immediate target for enemy artillery and it is almost certain that this is how Edward was killed.
Nearly two years would pass and then more bad news would come to the Fawkes household, then at 11 Wellington Grove, Stockport. Ernest died on 31 May 1918. He had been gassed whilst serving with the Royal Fusiliers and was being treated at Netley Hospital when he developed pneumonia. His body was brought back to Stockport and is buried at Cheadle & Gatley Cemetery. Edward has no known grave.