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Fred Marsden was born at number 23 Spring Gardens in Leyland on the 14th December 1892 to Daniel and Ann Marsden (nee Blundell). His parents married in the church of St. James in Leyland on the 10th September 1881. Later information states that Daniel and Ann Marsden had twelve children and of those only four had survived and Fred was the youngest of four surviving brothers, the others being; John (1884), James (1886) and William (1887).

In 1901 the family was still living in Spring Gardens and Daniel Marsden and his two eldest sons, John and James all worked in the India Rubber Works in Leyland, Fred`s mother Ann was a cotton weaver and Fred and his brother William were both attending school.

On the 13th December 1910 at the age of eighteen Fred signed up for four years with the Territorial Force. He was allocated the service number 761 and he joined the 4th Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. He listed his father Daniel Marsden of 12 Broad Street Leyland as his official next of kin. Daniel`s home address was later amended to 2 Towngate, Leyland.

By 1911 Fred, his parents and brother William had moved to 12 Broad Street in Leyland and Fred`s paternal grandmother eighty six year old Elizabeth Marsden had moved in with the family. Fred and his father both worked in the mixing department at the Dialene Rubber Company in Leyland while his brother William was employed at the motor works as a fitter`s labourer. Fred continued to attend his annual territorial camps until the outbreak of war and then on the 5th August 1914 he signed his agreement to serve abroad with the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment.

After approximately eight months of training Fred sailed to France with the 1/4th Battalion as part of “B” Company on the 4th May 1915. According to later information Fred was wounded on the 15th July 1915 but whether he was out of action for very long is unknown and his service papers are not much help in this regard either.

In late July 1915 the Battalion left the Flanders area and moved down to the Somme where they stayed for some months. Sadly, on the 30th October 1915 Fred was posted as missing in action.

Extract from the Battalion War Diary 27 – 30th October 1915 – AVELUY

27th – Fur coats were issued to the Battalion.

1.30pm – The first platoon and headquarters left for the trenches. The remainder of the Battalion followed and relief was completed at 3.18pm. A C and D Companies in the fire trench. B Company in support at POSTE LESDOS.

28th – Scottish Rifles on our left and 1/8th Liverpool Irish on our right.

29th – Enemy bombarded the wire and fire trench along the front held by our three companies between 7.10am and 9.30am. Considerable damage was done to the wire in front of the wood held by C Company, and the trench in the same place was blown in for about 100 yards between AINTREE ST. and MERSEY ST. About 30 yards of parapet was badly damaged in A Companies section immediately north of AINTREE ST. During the day parties were engaged in clearing the trench, including a party of 1 Officer and 20 other ranks from the K.O.R.L. Regiment from Brigade reserve. At 7pm a party of 3 Officers and 133 men from the 1/4th from the K.O.R.L. Regt. arrived and worked until 5am on the wire and parapet. The garrison was withdrawn from the damaged section of the “wood trench”, and used to thicken the flanks, while 1 Officer and 40 other ranks of the reserve company were taken up in support of C Company in the communication trench running N and S behind the damaged section.

12 mid – A Company reported their parapet in a fair state of repair.

29/30th – The desultory shelling of the working party continued. Salvos of H.E., H.V. shells were sent over about hourly. Major H. Nickson being killed during one of these bursts. Sec. Lt A.B. Bratton and 6 other ranks wounded.

30th – Work was continued all day on the damaged trench. A considerable amount of rifle machine-gun fire was reported from the enemy. A party of 3 Officers and 100 other ranks from the 1/4th K.O.R.L. reported at 8pm and worked until about 12.30am on the damaged trench and wire. Enemy artillery and machine-guns were more active than on the preceding night. The supporting company remained at POSTE LESDOS during the night. There were a few casualties; (1 O.R. Killed and 2 O.R. wounded) among the Kings Own working party during the night.

MAJOR H. NICKSON Killed, 5 other ranks wounded, 1 other rank missing

Several months passed before the Military Authorities eventually confirmed that Fred had died on the 30th October 1915 after which his family had the following notice inserted into the local newspaper.

761 Private Fred Marsden

After his death Fred was originally buried in Courcelette Communal Cemetery but during the course of the war his grave was lost and so he is now remembered on a Special Memorial in Delville Wood Cemetery at Longueval.

Photo by Janet Davis – July 2016

Photo by Janet Davis – July 2016

Fred was later awarded the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals in recognition of his service and sacrifice for his country.

Rank: Private
Service No: 761
Date of Death: 30/10/1915
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment,”B Coy” 1st/4th Bn.

Janet Davis
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