Herman HELLFRITSCH (HELFRITSCH)
Rank: Private
Number: 201613
Unit: 1/4th Battalion CHESHIRE REGIMENT
Date of Death: 4 September 1918
Age: 20
Cemetery: Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, Belgium

Karl Herman Hellfritsch was born in Germany but, by the winter of 1891/2, he was living in Manchester. Between October and December 1891, he married Alice Kay. The following year, they had their first child, Lily and, two years later, Bertha. In 1898, Herman was born. Karl and Alice would have two further daughters, Alma and Lena.

At this time, the family were living in the Ladybarn area of South Manchester but they later moved to live at 37 Elms Road, Heaton Moor. Karl Hellfritsch was a skilled engineer and, at the time of the 1901 Census, he was working as a foreman turner. In April 1906, he addressed the Salford Science Students Association on the subject of "The Training of Engineering Apprentices".

Nothing is known of Herman's short life until he was conscripted into the army, at Chester. It is not known when he joined up, but his 6-digit service number confirms he did not go overseas until after January 1917. Prior to then, members of Territorial Army battalions had 4-digit numbers and Herman's records at the National Archives confirm he was never allocated one of these.

By September 1918, the Allied forces had finally started to make significant advances, after four years of war. On 3 September, the Battalion was in position north west of Kemmel Church, approximately 8 kilometres south of Ypres (now Ieper). An attack was planned for the early hours of the following morning and Herman and his mates would be in support of the Cheshires' 7th Battalion. The 7th would capture the German front line positions at Warsaw and Peckham Craters and the 4th would then pass through and advance on Wytschaete (known as Whitesheet to the British Tommies).

The 7th Battalion attacked at 4.30 am on 4 September but was held up by tough opposition from the Germans and failed to take their objectives. This meant that the 4th Battalion had to stay in their cramped assembly trenches until further orders were given. It was not until 7.30 in the evening that the orders came through that the 4th was to attack Warsaw and Peckham Craters. The attack appears to have been successful with minimal casualties. Eight soldiers were killed with a further 27 wounded. A further 16 were posted as missing, including Herman. Most of the missing were, in fact, only wounded, but there was no news of Herman. His parents appealed for information in the Stockport Advertiser of 4 October, but nothing was ever heard of him again.

His body was never found and identified and he is commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing at Zonnebeke. Locally, Herman is commemorated on the Stockport War Memorial at the Art Gallery and on the Heaton Moor Memorial outside St Paul's Church. In what must have been a final bitter disappointment for his family, the bronze plaque on the Heaton Moor Memorial wrongly spells his name as Helfritsch not Hellfritsch (as confirmed in all official documents).

   
           
   
     
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