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Frederick was born in Stockport, the son of Arthur and Charlotte. In 1901, when the national census was taken, the family was living at 28 Grimshaw Street. Arthur worked as a painter’s labourer. Fredeick was the 3 and a 1 year old sister, Annie.

By the time of the Great War, the family had moved to 43 New Zealand Road and Frederick was working for the Cheshire Daily Echo. He enlisted in June 1916, no doubt as soon as he was old enough. He is understood to have originally joined the King’s Liverpool Regiment (service number 49025), but never served abroad with them. It was probably at the end of his training that he was transferred to the Loyals.

In January 1917, the 2nd Battalion arrived in Egypt, having previously served in South Africa. It would remain there for the rest of the war. Frederick was probably on his way to join the Battalion, on active service. On 3 May 1917, the 14,315 ton Anchor Line ship, Transylvania, left Marseilles bound for Alexandria carrying about 200 officers and 2,860 troops – her full complement – escorted by two Japanese destroyers – the Matsu and Sakaki. The next day the ship was torpedoed, close to Cape Vado in the Gulf of Genova, by German Submarine U-63. The Matsu came alongside the Transylvania and began to offload the troops whilst the Sakaki circled to force the submarine to remain submerged. After a second torpedo hit, the Transylvania sank immediately. In total 414 men lost their lives.

The bodies recovered at Savano (just north of Cape Vado), were buried two days later, from the hospital of San Paulo, in a special plot in the town cemetery. Others are buried elsewhere in Italy, France, Monaco and Spain. Savona Town Cemetery contains 83 burials from the ship. Frederick’s body was never found and identified and he is commemorated on the Memorial to the Misisng in the Cemetery.

The local Stockport newspaper, reporting his death, also noted that Arthur Oldham was also serving. Arthur would then be in his late 40s and, at that age, it is unlikely that he was fighting in the trenches.

Frederick OLDHAM
Rank: Private
Number: 36263
Unit: 2nd Battalion Loyal North Lancashire Regiment
Date of Death: 4 May 1917
Age: 19
Cemetery: Savona Memorial, Italy

This article has been reproduced with kind permission from the Stockport 1914-18 website.

Paul McCormick
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