Fred Walsh MM
Rank: Signaller
Number: 348333
Unit: 12th Brigade Royal Canadian Field Artillery
Date of Death: 27th October 1916
Age: 21
Cemetery: Bapaume Post Military Cemetery, Albert, Somme, France

Fred was the son of Mr & Mrs William Walsh, 12 Mill Lane, Adswood, Cheadle Hulme. He had been educated at All Saints School, Cheadle Hulme and Stockport Secondary School. He had also furthered his education by attending the local Wesleyan Sunday School.

In 1911, he had emigrated to Canada to take up fruit farming. On 1 September 1915, he married 22-year old Cora Pearl Hartley at Milton (to the south west of Toronto) where they lived. He enlisted, in Canada, on 1 November 1915. His unit landed in England on 6 January 1916 and they were stationed at Shornecliffe until they went on active service on 23 July 1916.

Fred's attestation papers, from when he enlisted, are still held by the Canadian government and, from these we learn that he had been born on 20 November 1894. He was 5 feet, 8 inches tall with a chest measurement of 36 inches and weighed 135 pounds. His hair and eyes were brown and he was described as having a fair complexion.

Research into Fred's military service was initially problematical. The only information was his obituary in the Stockport Advertiser which reported that, on 17 September 1916, he had undertaken an act of bravery for which he had been awarded the Military Medal. At the time, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission was wrongly showing him as serving with the 12th Brigade, Canadian Horse Artillery. The Canadian Government has now made available, on-line, the War Diaries of most units serving in France and Flanders during the Great War. The Diary for the 12th Brigade, Canadian Horse Artillery is very detailed and comprehensive, yet it makes no mention of Fred's bravery and, in fact, records that it was not in action on 17 September. Similarly, on the day he was killed there is no mention of this in a Diary which even records the names of wounded troops.

A full copy of Fred's service has been obtained from the Canadian government and it is clear what has happened. A simple clerical error has recorded him serving with the wrong unit. Certainly, Fred  served with the Horse Artillery, before the War as a territorial soldier. The papers then show that, after arriving in France, he was posted to 12th Brigade, Canadian Horse Artillery. The next day, however, the papers correctly show being taken on to the strength of 12th Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery - an entirely different unit. All the subsequent documents correctly refer to him being part of the CFA. The War Graves Commission has recently updated its database and has corrected the error.

The official papers also suggest that the date that Fred won the Medal was 6 October 1916. On the date mentioned by the Stockport Advertiser, the Brigade was only firing irregularly and the war Diary records nothing of note. On 6 October, although Fred is not mentioned by name, there is an indication that men were undertaking the repair of telephone wire. This was often a dangerous task as they were out in the open, away from the protection of the trenches. Fred was a signaller and was almost certain to have been involved.

On 27 October, the Brigade was near Pozieres and was firing regularly at the enemy throughout the day. Such days usually provoked a response from the enemy artillery and it is likely that Fred was killed by an incoming shell.

On 19 February 1919, Cora married a Mr Wrigglesworth and went to live in Georgetown, Ontario. Either she or other members of the family arranged for Fred's name to be inscribed on the Milton War Memorial,

(NB: Original research by John Hartley for the Cheadle & Gatley War Memorials website.)

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