Private Fred Dearden

OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPH TAKEN ON THE BRITISH WESTERN FRONT IN FRANCE. THE BATTLE OF THE RIDGES. Men of the Coldstream Guards sitting on the German Artillery. A newly captured gun is shown, taken in the Allied attack on the outskirts of Houlhurst Wood.'

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Service no. 12288

Born in 1894, Private Fred Dearden was the fifth child and third son of Thomas and Margaret Dearden. His father was the licensee of the Shooters Arms and then the New Inn, Nelson. Aged 20, Fred was apprenticed to an electrical manufacturer in Oldham. At the outbreak of war he enlisted in Nelson and joined the 1st Bn., Coldstream Guards, serving with the Expeditionary Force in France.

He died 13th April 1915, age 21, at Richebourg, France and is remembered on the Rolls of Honour of St John's church and Southfield chapel, and on the family gravestone in St John's Churchyard - Plot I269

Private Emmott of Trawden, a cousin, wrote a letter to Mr and Mrs Dearden which said,

Just a few lines to let you know of your son?s death. He was killed by a bullet yesterday as he was going to get some potatoes for his dinner. Whilst he was getting them he must have been shot by a sniper. The bullet hit him straight beside the ear and killed him instantly. He never moved, and I went for him at night and fetched him down on the stretcher. Just beside him was a pack of potatoes, which had been half filled when he was knocked over. I will try and get a photograph of his grave and send it to you. Bert Davies, his friend, attended the funeral. They have got all his belongings except his ring, so I took that off his finger because I knew you would want it for a keepsake.

Private Bert Davies was also a Guardsman and friend of Fred Dearden. The following are extracts from letters he wrote home to his brother:

Thursday, April 15th.

Dear Walter, I have some terrible news to tell you. Fred Dearden was killed on Monday, the 12th, and I got special permission to write to his people. Now I am looking after his private belongings and I shall forward the same to his father as soon as I can. He went out in an exposed place with an N.C.O., getting potatoes. He was shot through the brain and died instantly. I went to the burial service at 10 the next morning and the parson gave a short service. All that could be done to his grave has been done and I cannot improve it in any way. We came out of the trenches last night, and this is my first opportunity of writing you I have had since his death. It only points out how we go under, but I hope for the best and keep their spirits up at home. It was a bad knock-out for me, but I shall try to keep a good heart. I received a parcel whilst in the trenches, and another dated the 10th this morning. Both arrived in good condition. I will close now, as I am in poor form for writing. Bert.

Friday, April 16th.
Dear Walter, you will also get my letter of yesterday at the same time. I suppose with my letters being delayed two days, Fred's people will have got my letter and also our officer's message. Well it is best not to dwell on the subject, as you know, and will understand. We are back after our 8 days in the trenches, and are having a fortnight's rest, which we deserve. Boots and puttees on for eight days make your feet no better. Anyway, they are much better now, and I don't just remember whether I said in my letter about receiving the parcel dated April 10th. It is a parcel of real stuff and my convoys are acknowledged to be the best. The eggs were A1. Ask ma (I have just got her letter of the 11th) to make me an Eccles cake and send one every week if she can. A chap here gets some sent and they are a treat. Otherwise I have everything I want. Your brother Bert.

Fred Dearden's brother, Albert, died of pneumonia on the 16th December 1918, whilst serving with the Royal Field Artillery. He is also remembered on the above two Rolls of Honour. Another brother, Tom, was wounded near the time of the Armistice and was in hospital at Canterbury.


Coldstream Guards Badge

jwhalifax [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

Private Frederick Dearden was awarded the 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.

He is buried in Rue-des-Berceaux Military Cemetery, Richebourg-L'Avouep 1.C.10 France.

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Sources
Commonwealth War Grave Commission.
The Nelson Leader 23rd April 1915, page 3
1911 Census

St John's Churchyard

St John with St Philip Church
Barkerhouse Road
Nelson, Lancashire
BB9 9EY

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