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  • Christina Drummond

Private Frederick Whittaker, 1st Battalion, the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1915, Private Frederick Whittaker, 1st Battalion, the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, was killed in action at Beuvry, south-west of Bethune in France.

He was one of eight children of a cotton twister in the textile company Messrs. Horrockses, Crewdson & Co. in Preston. By the time he was fourteen he was working in one of the local mills as a creeler.

Private Whittaker enlisted in the army in November of 1914 – his father, five uncles, two cousins, and two uncles-in-law also served.

He sailed for France on the 4th of January in 1915, with reinforcements for the 1st Battalion, consisting of three hundred and sixty men and three officers. Two weeks later he was killed in action at Beuvry, and the events of that night are to be found in the battalion’s war diary: “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…. This is a terrible disaster and a severe blow to the Battalion.” An officer and seven men from other ranks were killed instantly, including Private Whittaker; two officers and eighteen men from other ranks were seriously wounded that day, one dying within a few hours from his wounds. Private Whittaker is buried in the Lievin Communal Cemetery Extension near Lens on the road to Givenchy in France.

Frederick, from Preston, was 18 years old.

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