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Frederick Keen was born in Grimsby, Lincolnshire in about 1882.

Frederick married Sarah Ann Stringfellow at St Lukes Church, Preston in 1907. In 1911 they were living at 43 German Street, Preston. Frederick was employed as a butcher.

At the time of the 1911 census, they had had two children, both of whom had not survived. In the following few years they moved to 34 Fletcher Road, Preston; and had two more children that had thankfully lived.

In 1916, Frederick joined the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and was posted into the 10th (Service) Battalion, number 25724. He sailed to France to join them in the field.

The Battalion War Diary details the attack on Greenland Hill at Arras, after which Private Frederick Keen was reported missing;

27th April 1917 – Arras

During night moved to companies into Cuba (trench) and brought support companies into new trench in front of Clasp Trench. Attended conference at Brigade Headquarters.

Received orders to attack Greenland Hill at dawn next day. Made all the necessary arrangements and decided the Battalion should ‘go over’ in two waves. In the meantime getting my first wave which was already in Cuba out into the open about 100 yards in front, so as to get a good start and escape any enemy fire which might be brought to bear on it, my second wave remaining where it was.

28th April 1917 – Arras 

04:25hrs – Barrage opened, Battalion being already in position for attack. The enemy did not put up much of an artillery barrage so I immediately brought my second wave into the new trench.

04:27hrs – The Battalion attacked and reached a point where a trench had been begun by the enemy. By this time the Battalion had suffered heavily and one one officer (2nd Lt. Jones was left).

The Battalion immediately commenced to dig in into this newly begun trench as they were so heavily enfiladed with machine guns from the right flank (Chemical Works).

There were several batches of the Regiment still further advanced in shell holes. These wisely remained there all day, sniping and doing as much damage as the could. By the time the Battalion was dug in, between 50 – 60 were all that remained.

During the advance, a few of the East Lancs, Bedfords and Warwicks joined my Battalion and dug in with us.

 

Thoughts as to why the attack on Greenland Hill failed; Lt Col E. A Cameron, Officer Commanding 10th Bn LNL;

This attack on Greenland Hill once more failed although we did gain some ground. Undoubtedly the Chemical Works was the main reason for this failure, but I cannot help thinking that if my Battalion had been supported in a more determined manner, we might have got to the enemy’s trench, but they were so few in numbers they were killed or wounded.

There was a great delay and much confusion at the time of the start, amongst the supporting Battalion, which I myself witnessed and tried to rectify. I am afraid this delay was a great hamper to the leading Battalion as the wave which should have been the first evidently never started, or if it did, it didn’t support my Battalion. Only the second wave appears to have got through, so naturally, there was a gap between the front waves and the supporting ones. Still, on the whole, I am afraid the ‘right flank’ was the main reason for our failure.

keen2

The following article appeared in the Preston Guardian on 9th March 1918;

Pte. Frederick Keen (35), L.N.L, who has been missing in action since the 28th April last year, is now officially assumed to have been killed. He leaves behind a widow and two children, residing at 34 Fletcher Road, Preston. Prior to joining up, two years ago, he was a butcher employed at the Cattle Market.

 

 

In 1919 Sarah remarried John Joseph Ollerenshaw.

Rank: Private
Service No: 25724
Date of Death: 28/04/1917
Age: 35
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 10th Bn.
Memorial: ARRAS MEMORIAL

Unfortunately his service papers have not survived.

* His medal index card wrongly spells his surname as KEIN.

Paul McCormick
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Paul McCormick

Paul McCormick is the creator and administrator for the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment website. Since 2010 he has been researching the soldiers that served during the First World War and sharing their stories on his website. You can contact Paul through the website 'Contact Me' page or on Twitter and Facebook.
Paul McCormick
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