19 Year old Private Frederick Whatmough died on this day 100 years ago. Records show his grave in Chippily Communal Cemetery Extension in a plot adjoining Private J Redfern of the 16th Battalion, who died on 20th June 1916.
Frederick’s Medal Index Card identifies he died, rather than being killed in action. John Hartley’s painstaking research Stockports Soldier Frederick WHATMOUGH finds Frederick drowned while swimming at Chippily. This is south east of Albert, and west of Vaux, down the river Somme. The Battalion had withdrawn from Vaux trenches the day before to a camp at Bois Celestine. Frederick was in VI Paltoon of B Company. John Hartley (see 17th Manchesters by John Hartley) recounts a letter from his OC, Captain Norman Vaudrey (see 1st July 1916 Anniversary – Officers)
“I very much regret to have to break the news to you of the death of your son, Signaller Whatmough, who was drowned whilst bathing here – a few miles behind the firing line – yesterday afternoon, June 2nd. Though a strong swimmer he must, we think, have been seized with cramp and despite efforts made by his comrades, particularly a man named Hassall, he sank and was drowned. We worked hard to recover him, but it was too late when we did. He will be buried with military honours tomorrow. Since being out here he has always been good at his work and anxious to do his duty; and a favourite amongst his comrades. As you know, he joined right at the beginning of the War, and has been with us all the time, and although his death did not actually occur in the face of the enemy, he died for his country which he served so well. We fully realise how much you will feel this blow and I hope you will accept the sympathy of the officers and men of his company.”
The Regimental Number of 8959 indicates Private Whatmough was one on the original 2nd City Pals to enlist in September 1914. He must have been 17 years old at that time. Casualties of the MANCHESTER REGIMENT 04/08/1914 to 31/12/1916 tells us Frederick was the Son of Frederick W. and Ellen Whatmough, of 9, St. Paul’s St., Stockport. Prior to hostilites, Fred had been employed by Peel Watson & Co of 6 Parker Street, Manchester. 7 men enlisted from the firm, as shown on the Roll of Honour. This includes Harry Hudson, who been at Manchester Warehouseman and Clerks Orphans’ School with Arthur Bell’s brother Douglas.