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Frederick William Helm was born in Preston and baptised on the 26th January 1896 at St. Peter`s Church in the town the son of William and Ann Helm (nee Hardiker). William Helm was the son of a tailor Cain Helm and he married Ann Hardiker, daughter of Timothy Hardiker a bolt maker at St. Peter`s Church in Preston on the 16th August 1890. The couple had seven children including Frederick although sadly two died in infancy;

⦁ Mary Elizabeth (1890)
⦁ William Cain (1894-1894)
⦁ Frederick William (1896)
⦁ Elsie (1897-1897)
⦁ James (1899)
⦁ Kate Edith (1902)
⦁ William (1903)

Frederick was born at 83 Old Lancaster Lane in Preston and this is the address where the family would remain for many years. In 1901 Fred`s father was a cotton weaver but by 1911 he was working in the warehouse of a cotton mill and his mother was a sewing machinist working from home. Fred and his elder sister Mary Elizabeth were both employed as cotton weavers and his youngest three siblings, James, Kate and William were all still at school.

Fred enlisted into the Army at Preston on the 1st October 1914 agreeing to serve a term of 4 years with the Territorial Force. He joined the 4th Battalion Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and was issued with the service number 2768. Prior to his enlistment Fred had been employed as a weaver at Shelley Road Mill in Preston and his home address was 91 Old Lancaster Lane.

The 1/4th Battalion sailed to France on the 4th May 1915 and Fred went with them as a member of “C” Company. A week after landing in France the Battalion became part of the 154th Brigade of 51st (Highland) Division. Towards the end of May they had their first experience of the trenches and also incurred their first casualties but on the 15th June 1915 they were ordered to take part in their first major action, attacking enemy positions between Rue d`Overt and Chapelle St. Roch in what would become known later as the “great bayonet charge”.

Extract from the Regimental History
“At 6pm on the 15th June 1915 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”.

The Battalion had paid a heavy price, after being relieved what remained of the Battalion assembled at Le Touret where a roll call was taken. After their first general action 431 men had been killed, wounded or were missing and sadly, young Frederick Helm`s name was one of those on the missing list. After being informed, his parents notified the local paper;

In the case of men listed as missing it would normally take a number of months, sometimes even up to a year before the Military Authorities would finally confirm the death of a soldier, Fred`s death was no exception, his family had to wait for almost eleven months before his death was finally confirmed for `official purposes`.

After hearing the news the family informed the local paper and the following article appeared on the 9th May 1916.

Frederick Helm`s body was never recovered from the battlefield where he fell and as such he has no known grave and so his name was later added to the Le Touret Memorial to the Missing. After the war his parents would have received Fred`s 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals to which he was entitled and would also have received his Memorial Plaque and Scroll in recognition of his sacrifice.

Rank: Private
Service No: 2768
Date of Death: 15/06/1915
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, C Coy, 1st/4th Bn.

Janet Davis
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