1885 - 1916
CPL David Wallace Crawford
1887 - 1916
Lce-Corpl John Joseph Nickle
1894 - 1916
Pte 17911 Morton Neill
1897 - 1916
Lieut Edward Stanley Ashcroft
1883 - 1918
2nd Lieutenant Fred Wilson
- Age: 26
- From: Haverthwaite
- Regiment: 9th Bn Suffolk Regt
- Died on Friday 15th September 1916
- Commemorated at: London Cem Longueval
Panel Ref: I.K.18
Reports differ on this man’s age, but given his birthplace and the name of his father, he has to be this Fred Wilson, born in Low Wood (also Lowwood), in the parish of Haverthwaite (then in Lancashire, now in Cumbria), in the June quarter of 1890, the third son of John Postlethwaite Wilson and his wife Elizabeth (née Lindow). His father was born in Birkenhead but lived all his life in the Haverthwaite area, and his mother in Browedge, near Haverthwaite. They married in 1880 and had eight children. Fred had older siblings John James, Jessie, William, Helena, and Edith, and younger brothers George and Harold.
In 1891 the family is living at Low Wood, Haverthwaite, with six children under 10. His father is a labourer at the gunpowder works. Fred is 1 year old.
Lowwood Gunpowder works on the East bank of the River Leven to the northeast of Low Wood village, was a major employer in the area, operating since 1799. The gunpowders manufactured at Lowwood ranged from fine powders used for sporting and military purposes to coarse powders used for mining, quarrying and other blasting activities. Production ceased in 1935. The plant is today a historic building, the best preserved gunpowder works in the north of England.
In 1901 they are living in the same place. His father, 46, and 19-year old brother John work as gunpowder labourers, Fred is 11.
At some point after leaving school Fred lived in Todmorden, Yorkshire, where he worked for a draper. Perhaps he moved away for other opportunities in life apart from working in the gunpowder works. After more than three years there he moved to Southport.
In 1911 Fred is boarding with James and Lilian Dean at 621 Lord Street, Southport. He is shown as 24, and employed as a shop assistant in a draper’s. His age on the 1911 census, filled in by his landlord, seems to be in error. He would have been 21 years old.
In 1911 his parents with Helena, Edith, George and Harold are still found at Lowwood, where his father, 56, is still employed at the gunpowder works, and his mother is 58.
In May 1913 his brother John James was severely injured, with burns to the face and head, when 60 lbs of gunpowder exploded at the works.
Prior to enlistment he was living at at Blair Grove, Southport and was a member of the Liberal Club in Southport.
Fred enlisted in Liverpool joining the 17th Battalion (Pals) of The King’s Liverpool Regiment as Private 15975. He was transferred to the Grenadier Guards as Private 23549 before he received a Commission (which was gazetted in June 1915) and transferred as 2nd Lieutenant to the 9th Battalion of the Suffolk Regiment. Fred was wounded in the foot at the Somme before he was killed in action on 15th September 1916.
CWGC records show that Fred was buried in an isolated grave at Ginchy, and was exhumed in 1957, identified by his officer’s cloth, collar badges (Suffolk Regiment), (identity)disc, and officer’s boots. He was reburied in London Cemetery Longueval, Somme, where he now rests. Sadly the CWGC Verification Form shows ‘no trace of next of kin’.
His death was announced in the Todmorden and District News on 29th September 1916:
“Sec. Lieut. F. Wilson (Formerly of Todmorden)”
“News has been received in Southport that Second Lieutenant F. Wilson, Blair Grove, Southport, of the Suffolk Regiment, has been killed in action. In the early days of the war he joined one of Lord Derby’s “Comrades” battalions of the King’s (Liverpool Regiment) as a Private. He was transferred to the Grenadier Guards and given a commission in the Suffolk Regiment. He had been twice wounded, but only slightly. Before joining the army he was employed by a Southport firm of tailors. Prior to his removal to Southport the deceased officer lived in Todmorden for over three years. He was employed by Mr. Jas Pilling, draper, in York Street and made his home with Mr. and Mrs. J. Sutcliffe (then of Newland Villas, Stansfield Road). He attended Oldroyd Sunday school and was a teacher most of the time and a regular attendant at the services. Since leaving the district he has kept up his association with Oldroyd, and as recently as August 6th sent a substantial donation to the anniversary. Mr. Sutcliffe has had letters from him at intervals while in action in which he always wrote in a cheerful vein, and spoke in the highest terms of the men of the Suffolks. His last letter but one stated that he was the only officer left in his company that accompanied them out to action. He was a young man of a quiet, pleasant, and ambitious nature, and had gained a first-rate position in one of the most exclusive business establishments in Lord Street. Southport. His home was in the village of Haverthwaite, in Cumberland.
In one of his last letters he says:
‘You will perhaps know that I have been slightly wounded, but nothing at all serious. I shall be back with the battalion about Sunday, having had about ten days in hospital. It was a slight wound in the foot, which fractured the metatarsal. When you have time let me know which battalions the people from Oldroyd are in. I was walking down the street in an old ruined village in France, some time about the 20th of July, when a man from the R.A.M.C. came up and asked me if I remembered him. I did not until he told me he played football with us in Todmorden on Tuesday afternoons. His name was Thomas, and if I am not mistaken he was in the employ of the Todmorden Co-op. I was awfully glad to come across him and more so when I found he was one of the R.A.M.C. which is attached to our brigade. It is quite possible there might be a lot somewhere near us I could look up if I knew their battalions. Don’t get downhearted about the war. I know it is terrible, but there is a brighter outlook very near, I am sure. The price which has been paid and which still has to be paid will be very heavy, but it is all for some purpose. Please give my regards to all, and all best wishes to you both. I remain, yours very sincerely, F. Wilson, 14th General Hospital, Boulogne.’”
An honor roll found on Cumbria.gov.uk. states that Fred was mentioned in the Barrow News on 26/08/16, p.3, records that Fred was 27 years old and served in the Derby Pals (Lord Derby Pals?), Grenadier Guards, and the Suffolk Regiment. Also, an article on Page 3, on 30/9/1916. (These articles have not been found online.)
Fred is mentioned in the book, “Windermere and Grassmere in The Great War”:
“Second Lieutenant Fred Wilson, 9th Suffolk Regiment, of Low Wood, Haverthwaite, who is buried at the London Cemetery opposite High Wood on the Somme. He is likely to have fallen assaulting a German fortified trench system called the Quadrilateral near Ginchy on 15 September 1916.”
In the Westmorland Gazette on 5th May 1917, under the heading, “Posthumous Honours for Haverthwaite Officer”:
“Sec. Lieut. Fred Wilson, Lowwood, Haverthwaite, who was killed in action in France in September last year, has been mentioned in despatches. The following is a copy of a letter just received from an assistant military secretary at the War Office by his parents:-
“Sir, - I have it in command from His Majesty the King, to inform you, as next of kin of the late Lieut. Fred Wilson of the Suffolk Regiment, that this officer was mentioned in a despatch from General Sir Douglas Haig, dated 13 November 1916, and published in the second supplement to the ‘London Gazette’ dated 4th January 1917, for gallant and distinguished service in the field. I am to express to you the King’s high appreciation of these services and to add that his Majesty trusts that their public acknowledgment may be of some consolation in your bereavement.”
Fred earned his three medals and is commemorated on the following memorials -
Haverthwaite Cross Memorial
His father died in 1922, aged 67, and his mother in 1933, at the age of 80.