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200809 Sergeant Frederick Pitcher MM “B” Coy 1/4th Battalion

200809 Sergeant Frederick Pitcher MMFrederick Pitcher was born in Preston, his birth being registered in the March quarter of 1896. His parents, William and Sarah Jane Pitcher (nee Maddock) married in Preston in 1890. Frederick had four brothers and two sisters;

  • Joseph (1890)
  • Annie (1892)
  • William (1894)
  • Walter (1897)
  • Mary Elsie (1904)
  • Francis (1908)

In 1901 the Pitcher family lived at 154 Henderson Street in Preston, Frederick`s father was a cotton twister and his mother was a weaver. The family also had a servant housekeeper, Elizabeth Duckworth a widow aged 69 years old who was born in Stockport.

Frederick`s youngest sibling Francis was born in the March quarter of 1908 and not long afterwards on the 13th June 1908 an article appeared in the Lancashire Evening Post concerning his parents;


“William Pitcher (39) was charged on warrant with being in arrears under a maintenance order. His wife, Sarah Jane Pitcher stated she obtained a separation order against him on May 6th, when he was directed to pay her 10s a week. He, however, now owed her £2.10s. When she asked him for some money, he told her he would “do a month for her”. Prosecutrix remarked that she would not have proceeded against him till he got work, if it had not been for his “cheek”. Defendant said he was out of employment. The Magistrate adjourned the case until Monday and advised the prisoner to settle”.

William and Sarah Jane Pitcher were still living apart when the 1911 Census was recorded, William was boarding with George and Nellie Howles at 64 Brook Street in Preston and was working in a cotton mill. Sarah Jane Pitcher was still resident in Henderson Street with Frederick and the rest of her children. Also in the household was a three year old boy named Albert Pitcher who was said to be Sarah Jane`s grandson. At the time Joseph, Annie, William, Frederick and Walter all worked in a cotton mill.

Frederick enlisted on the 14th October 1914 at Preston agreeing to serve a term of four years and was allocated his original service number of 2926 which would later be changed to 200809. He declared he was single and had no previous military experience and his home address was 20 Henderson Street in Preston. His medical inspection noted that he was 19 years and 8 months old and he was 5`4” tall with a 34” chest. For official purposes Frederick named his parents William and Sarah Jane and his eldest brother Joseph as his next of kin.

He was duly passed fit to serve and posted to the 1/4th Battalion Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. Frederick embarked for France on the 4th May 1915 with the Battalion and was a member of “B” Company.

On the 22nd July 1916 Frederick was appointed Lance Corporal and the following month he was granted 1st Class Proficiency Pay. He was further promoted to Corporal on the 26th October 1916.

In December of 1916 the Lancashire Evening Post published a photograph together with an article about Frederick and three of his brothers. The article noting that Frederick`s eldest brother 18282 Private William Pitcher, 1st Bn LNL had been missing in action since the 18th August 1916. It also notes that 10762 Corporal Joseph Pitcher, 10th Bn LNL had recently been severely wounded and was in hospital in Manchester with `no more than 32 wounds`.

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Frederick was still with the 1/4th Battalion when on the 18th March 1917 he was sent to a Lewis Gun School for just over two weeks 18/3/17 – 3/4/17.

During June and July of 1917 the weather had been fairly dry but on the 29th July a thunderstorm arrived and the amount of rain that followed filled the shell holes with water and made the roads almost impassable due to the mud. On the 31st July 1917 the 3rd Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) began and it was during this period that Frederick, along with several other men, was awarded the Military Medal for bravery in the field. The casualties from this action had been heavy with 51 of all ranks being killed or dying of wounds, while 192 were wounded and 77 missing. The following day on the 1st August 1917 Frederick was appointed Lance Sergeant (paid).

The Battalion was relieved at midday on the 4th August and was withdrawn to the vicinity of St. Omer going into billets in the village of Audrehem for rest and retraining. They remained in billets for about six weeks but by the 15th September they had been recalled to the front line in preparation for the Battle of Menin Road Ridge, the attack scheduled for the 20th September 1917. For a full account of the attack see 2/Lt Cuthbert Blacow Holmes (click here).

Sadly, it was during this attack that Frederick sustained severe gunshot wounds to his right thigh and also a fractured femur. He was removed by field ambulance and taken to number 44 Casualty Clearing Station where two days later he succumbed to his wounds, his date of death being 22nd September 1917.

Five days later on the 28th September 1917 Frederick`s Military Medal Award was confirmed in the London Gazette.

Several weeks after his death his mother took receipt of some of her sons` personal effects, which included; 2 coins, Wristwatch with protector and strap, 1 pipe, 1 metal ring, 2 ID Discs, 1 knife, a metal matchbox cover and 1 medal ribbon.

Frederick was buried in Nine Elms British Cemetery in Belgium. His family had the following words inscribed at the foot of his headstone;


Sarah Jane Pitcher took receipt of her sons` Military Medal on the 30th July 1918. After the war she also signed for Frederick`s 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals to which he was entitled.

Rank: Serjeant
Service No: 200809
Date of Death: 22/09/1917
Age: 21
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.
Awards: M.M.

18382 Private William Pitcher 1st Battalion LNL

Unfortunately William`s service papers have not survived so the exact date of his enlistment is unknown.  William was single when he enlisted and he was issued with the service number 18382 and embarked for France on the 27th April 1915 as a reinforcement for the 1st Battalion. According to the newspaper article he was wounded three times and also gassed during his service in France. Sadly, William was posted as missing in action on the 18th August 1916 during the 1st Battalion`s involvement at High Wood in the second phase of the Battle of the Somme.

William`s body was never recovered from the battlefield and as such has no known grave and so he is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing on the Somme. After the war Sarah Jane Pitcher would have taken receipt of her sons` 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals.

The names of William and also his brother Frederick are remembered on the English Martyrs Roman Catholic Church War Memorial Panels in Preston.

Rank: Private
Service No: 18382
Date of Death: 13/08/1916
Age: 23
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st Bn.

10762 Corporal Joseph Pitcher 10th Battalion LNL

Joseph`s service papers are also not available but we do know that he enlisted into the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and was issued with the service number 10762. He sailed to France on the 3rd September 1915 with a batch of reinforcements and was posted to the 10th Battalion LNL.  At some point during late August 1916 he was severely wounded and as a result was evacuated back to England on the 23rd August for treatment at a hospital in Manchester. (This date is given on a later record).

On the 24th January 1918 Joseph transferred to the Royal Flying Corps which on the 1st April 1918 became the R.A.F. Joseph`s new service number became 133808 and his record of service for the R.A.F. states that he was 5`5” tall with brown hair and grey eyes. Joseph`s total war service amounted to 7 years and 26 days before he was finally discharged on the 26th April 1921 as `being no longer physically fit for war service`. His home address was given as 20 Henderson Street. Joseph was awarded the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals in recognition of his service for his country.

26118 Lance Corporal Walter Pitcher, Cheshire Regiment/Labour Corps

Walter enlisted on the 26th April 1915 and went to France on the 21st July 1915 and at some point joined the Cheshire Regiment. Unfortunately Walter`s service record is not available either but his MIC and the Medal Rolls indicate that as well as the Cheshire Regiment he also spent some time with the Labour Corps, number 632852. His Medal Index Card record notes that Walter also received the Military Medal (no further information). He survived the war and was discharged (sickness) on the 15th February 1919 and received the Silver War Badge number B183063. Walter was also awarded the 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals.

Janet Davis
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