Albert FERNS
Rank: Private
Number: 260014
Unit: 10th Battalion CHESHIRE REGIMENT
Date of Death: 15 April 1917
Age: 34
Cemetery: Tancrez Farm Cemetery, Ploegsteert, Belgium

Albert's parents, Matthew and Elizabeth, lived at "Lynwood", High Lane. The 1901 Census records Matthew, then aged 49, working as a waterworks labourer. Elizabeth was 43. Albert is also recorded, as living in Marple and working as a railway porter. He is believed to have changed jobs and gone to work at Strine's Printworks.

Albert enlisted at Stockport and his original service number, 4317, suggests his original unit might have been the local Territorial Army Battalion - the 6th Cheshires - and that he was not an early volunteer, perhaps being conscripted in 1916. Territorial soldiers were re-allocated six-digit numbers at the beginning of 1917, so it seems as though it may have been not long before he died that he was transferred to the 10th Battalion.

On 15 April, Albert was in the front line trench, "Long Avenue", in the Le Touquet sector, some 17 kilometres south of Ypres (now Ieper). At 7.45pm, the German artillery opened a heavy bombardment on the Cheshires' positions. After only a minute, the bombardment lifted onto the support trenches, cutting off the front line from any chance of re-enforcement. Under cover of this very accurate shelling, two small parties of Germans, each about 25 strong, jumped into the British trench. The raiding party threw grenades into the dug-outs and took seven men prisoner. They then ran back to their own lines. They had not been in the British position for longer than 5 minutes. The German artillery continued to bombard the Cheshires to cover their withdrawal and it did not stop until about 8.15.

Albert and George Hargreaves had both been killed by the shelling.

The Stockport Advertiser, in its edition of 11 May 1917, reported that a memorial service had been held at Windlehurst Wesleyan Chapel for three of its worshippers who had been killed. They were Albert, Samuel Platt and Clarence Byrom.

Further information about Albert, including a photograph, is included in the book "Remembered" by P Clarke, A Cook and J Bintliff. The above military information has been extracted from the book.

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