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Fred Whittaker was baptised at St. Matthew`s Church in Preston on the 3rd December 1896 the son of Thomas and Mary Jane Whittaker (nee Chapman). Fred`s father was originally from Longridge and his mother was from Liverpool, the couple married in St. Matthew`s in Preston on the 23rd December 1893. Fred had three brothers and four sisters; Mary Jane (1894), Elizabeth (1898), George (1900), Edith (1903), John (1905), Thomas (1907) and Winifred (1912).

When Fred was born the family was living in Wilbraham Street in Preston but within a couple of years they had moved to Owtram Street which is where they were living in 1901. Thomas Whittaker was employed as a cotton twister in a mill owned by Messrs. Horrockses, Crewdson & Co. By 1911 fourteen year old Fred had joined his father in the mill working as a creeler and the family was still resident in Owtram Street.

Unfortunately Fred`s service papers are not available so the date of his enlistment isn`t known but later information suggests that he enlisted at some point during November 1914 and was allocated the number 10672.

He wasn`t the only member of the Whittaker family to enlist, his proud paternal grandparents John and Mary Whittaker of 11 Derby Square in Preston published photographs in the local paper of their 6 sons, 2 grandsons and 2 sons-in-law who had all enlisted;Whittaker

Left to right top row; Thomas Whittaker (Fred`s father) William Whittaker, 2nd West Lancs R.F.A., James Whittaker R.A.M.C., John Whittaker, R.A.M.C. (POW in Sennelager, Germany), Elijah Whittaker 1st Bn LNL (POW in Wittenburg). Second row; Doctor Whittaker, A.S.C., Gunner C. Blackwell and Gunner J. Whittle both sons in law, Grandsons Fred Whittaker and William Jackson.

Fred sailed for France on the 4th January 1915 with a batch of reinforcements for the 1st Battalion. On the 12th January 1915 the Battalion war diary records `360 men and 3 Officers joining` which would have included young Fred from Preston.

Private Frederick Whittaker was killed at Beuvry just fourteen days later, 26th January 1915. He was 18 years old.

1st Battalion War Diary: 26th January 1915

“At BEUVRY. A quiet night for us but heavy and continuous firing in the direction of GIVENCHY. The companies were re-allotted to billets in the village on account of the fact that the Germans had shelled it the day before.

At 9.30hrs, orderly room was being held in `D` Companies billets in a paved yard surrounded by buildings. It was a particularly large orderly room on account of yesterday`s being interrupted by our sudden move from BETHUNE.

A high explosive shell almost perpendicularly struck the yard in the midst of us and detonated with great violence. The havoc was awful.

2/Lt G.E. Bunderkin was killed, Lt J.G. Halstead wounded (in legs and arms), 2/Lt M.E. Callard very seriously wounded in both legs.

Sergt. Major T. Hodgson, Sergt. Veacock, Sergt. Haggerty, Coy Sergt. Major Marsh, Coy Sergt. Major Melia and seven other ranks were killed on the spot. There were eighteen wounded, one of whom Coy Sergt. Major Curtis died of wounds the same day.

This is a terrible disaster and a severe blow to the Battalion. We all regret the death of 2/Lt Bunderkin he was a most reliable officer and Sergt. Major Hodgson particularly”.

A few weeks later the following photograph and article appeared in the local paper;Whittaker 1

Fred was buried in Lievin Communal Cemetery Extension where he lies alongside ten of his comrades from the 1st Battalion who also perished on that day.

After the war his next of kin would receive his 1914/15 Star, British War and Victory Medals.

Rank: Private
Service No: 10672
Date of Death: 26/01/1915
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st Bn.

Janet Davis
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2 Responses to 10672 PTE. F. WHITTAKER. L.N.LAN.R.

  1. Steven Blackwell says:

    Fred Whittaker is a distant first cousin of mine, I am the great-grandson of Charles Blackwell and Mary Whittaker (Fred’s aunt)

  2. Patricia Stafford says:

    Wonderful that a comment I made about WWI on Facebook led to a picture of my father Elijah Whittaker in his younger days! (He married my mother when he was 60 years old.) If you are collecting regimental pictures I can attach an older picture in Uniform which maybe pre-war, possibly taken went he was sent to Cork Barracks in 1902 or when he was in South Africa post Boer War. (I know nothing else about his soldering except that he joined up to escape a women who bossed him around when he worked in the mill!)

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