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fraser1Arthur Fraser`s Grandparents were originally from Edinburgh. His Grandfather Adam James Fraser married Sarah Laing in about 1865 and by the following year they had moved to Preston and started a family. Adam James Fraser was a Watch and Clockmaker and he eventually started a family business in Lune Street in Preston and then later moved on to a more prominent position on the main street at number 86 Fishergate.

Adam and Sarah`s eldest son was Henry Fraser born in 1866 in Preston. Henry Fraser followed his father into the clock and watchmaking business.

On the 1st August, 1890 Henry married Elizabeth Hannah Ford at St. George`s Church in Preston. They went on to have five children, Doris (1891), Henry James (1893), Thomas (1895), Arthur was born in 1898 and he was followed by Francis in 1900.

In 1911 Arthur was living with his parents and siblings at 184 St. Thomas`s Road in Preston. His father Henry was working as a jewellers assistant probably for his father Adam in the family business. His eldest brother Henry James was a Clerk and his brother Thomas was a Chemist`s apprentice. Arthur and his younger brother Francis were still at school.

The following year Arthur`s Grandfather Adam James Fraser died and he left a will amounting to £7,882 11s 1d which would indicate he had quite a successful business at the time. As the advertisement below shows, the business had expanded extensively since it first started. After Adam Fraser died Arthur`s father Henry continued with the family business in Fishergate.

fraser2

After war broke out Arthur Fraser went to enlist at the recruiting office in Preston. Unfortunately his service papers have not survived so the actual date is unknown; however it was very likely to have been in 1914 or early 1915. He was allocated the number 2690 and posted to “A” Coy in the 1/4th Battalion.

Arthur`s medal index card indicates that he sailed with the 1/4th Battalion on the “SS Onward” arriving in Boulogne on the 4 May, 1915. He was born in the July quarter of 1898 so he would have been just about seventeen years old which suggests he lied about his age at the time of his enlistment. However, despite his young age Arthur must have impressed because at some point he was promoted to Lance Corporal.

The 1/4th Battalion were in the 51st (Highland) Division in the 154th Brigade. The 1/4th was soon to see their first major action of the war just about a month after they landed in France. They were to take part in what became known back in Preston as “the great charge at Festubert”.

Extracts from the Regimental History

At 6pm on the 15th June the attack was launched by the 4th Loyal North Lancashire and the 6th Scottish Rifles. The attack was at first successful; the west end of the German salient was carried, and the attack pushed on to the main German line near the Rue d`Overt, and for a time the third German trench was occupied and held. Unfortunately the attack by the Division on the right of the 51st made little or no progress, and when night fell the 154th Brigade had penetrated the German line on a narrow front, but had both its flanks in the air. The attack consequently failed, but as stated in the Divisional History, “great praise is due to the 154th Infantry Brigade for their advance in the face of heavy artillery and close range rifle and machine gun fire. There is little or no doubt that had the operations on the flanks been successful, they would have had every prospect of holding their gains”

Sadly, this is where Lance Corporal Arthur Fraser`s war ended, he was posted missing on the 15 June, 1915. The casualties from the action totalled 431 men either killed, wounded or missing.

The local paper the Preston Guardian reported extensively on the events of the 15th June, extracts from letters from some of the men who had taken part in the action were also printed. One such article mentions L/Cpl Arthur Fraser;

“Amongst the numerous cases of “reported missing” connected with the 4th LNL is that of Lance Corporal A. Fraser (A Company), one of the 2 sons of Mr. Harry Fraser, jeweller, Preston, now in the service.

In a letter to his parents, Private George Clarke states that he himself last saw L/Cpl Fraser when the latter bravely led a section down the communication trench into the firing line to establish a temporarily lost connection. He was afterwards seen along with Private Bert Gorst close to the German entanglements, both of them untouched”.

Then most likely in an attempt to give some hope to Arthur`s parents, Private Clarke continues:

“he may have been wounded and taken prisoner, and that one Corporal who was taken that night had his wounds dressed and was sent back to the lines, so the enemy facing us were not that wholly treacherous”

Arthur`s parents would eventually be informed that for official purposes their son Lance Corporal Arthur Fraser was killed in action on the 15th June, 1915. Arthur was awarded the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals. His body was never recovered and so his name is remembered on the Le Touret Memorial in France alongside many of the men from the 1/4th Battalion.

Interesting to note that the CWGC have Arthur Fraser`s age recorded as 20 years old when he died, he was actually just 17 years old so it would seem he probably did lie about his age when he enlisted.

Rank: Lance Corporal
Service No: 2690
Date of Death: 15/06/1915
Age: 20 (17*)
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.
Memorial: LE TOURET MEMORIAL

Additional family information

13179 Private Thomas Fraser, 7th Battalion “D” Coy, Preston Pals. Thomas enlisted at Preston probably in early September, 1914. He went to France with the 7th Battalion on 17 July, 1915.

Thomas was killed in action during the Battle of the Somme on the 10 July, 1916. He received the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals and his name is remembered with honour on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing, Somme, France.

Unfortunately Thomas`s service papers have not survived so no further information is available at this time.

Note: Another photograph of the Fraser family jewellers shop in Fishergate can be found in the Preston Digital Archives: www.flickr.com/photos/rpsmithbarney/3980337228/

Janet Davis

Janet Davis

Janet Davis has been researching her family history for many years and through this she discovered many relatives who served in WW1. This interest then led Janet to do many walking the battlefield tours with her husband. In April 2013 she discovered this website and volunteered to help. Janet believes that there are lots of stories still to be told, most of them very sad but at the same time they are a fascinating insight into the men, their families, what they did and where they came from.
Janet Davis

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