William Seal FITTON
Rank: Private
Number: PS/9101
Unit: 23rd Battalion ROYAL FUSILIERS
Date of Death: 13 November 1916
Age: 22
Cemetery: Redan Ridge Cemetery No. 1, Beaumont-Hamel, Somme, France

The Fittons originated from Manchester where William and his three older siblings had been born. However, the family had moved to the Stockport area by the time of the 1901 Census and was living at 18 Elms Road, Heaton Moor. John Fitton worked as a manager in the coal trade and was married to Harriett. He later became a local councillor, representing the Heaton Norris South ward.

William emigrated from Britain after finishing his education in about 1911 and worked in Canada and America. He came home to celebrate his 21st birthday with the family and enlisted soon after.

The Battle of the Somme had been underway since 1 July and William would be killed in almost its final major attack. The 23rd Battalion would be held in reserve and would not take part in the initial advance for which zero hour was set at 6.30am. It would be many hours before the Fusiliers were sent forward to support the leading troops now established in the German trench system. Two companies went forward at 5pm to support a battalion of the Highland Light Infantry. At 7.30pm, the remaining two companies advanced to reinforce another unit.

William's officer later wrote to his parents telling them what had happened. The letter suggests that, although William officially held the rank of private, he was acting in a more senior position, perhaps as a lance corporal or corporal, in charge of a small group of men. "He was shot down by machine gun fire while gallantly leading his men towards their objective. His death has been a great blow to me and all the Battalion and his loss will be ever felt. He was one of my finest men and it is hardly possible to replace him. He was one of my team leaders and his death will never be forgotten"

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