Walter Fretwell

south staffordshire regiment badgeLance Corporal, 24892, 1st Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment, killed in action, 6th October 1917, aged 42.

Born at Crowle in 1876, Walter was one of ten children of Frederick and Alice Fretwell. His father, from Wroot, was a farm worker and at the time of Walter’s birth was the foreman at Curlews Farm, Ealand. His mother was from Thorne.

In 1891, Walter, aged 15, was as a farm labourer at Poplar’s Farm, Jaques Bank, Medge Hall and so would have worked alongside the parent’s of Fred Key. In 1901, still a farm labourer, he and three brothers and sisters lived with their eldest brother Arthur, a widow with three children in Godnow Road. Walter was still living with Arthur in 1911 and both brothers now worked for the Peat Moss Litter Company at Medge Hall.

Walter attested for the army at Crowle, post 1915 and most likely also went through the Training Reserve, after which he was posted to the 1st Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment.  In 1917 their first involvement in the Third Battle of Ypres was the Battle of Polygon Wood in September. On 4th October they were also involved in the Battle of Broodseinde around Polygon Wood. Successful in their objective they held their position over the next few days ready to attack Passchendaele.

It was during this period consolidating in the trenches prior to the Battle of Passchendaele that Walter Fretwell lost his life. Probably buried in a battlefield grave at the time, the site of which is now lost, Walter is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.

Walter is commemorated on the plaque to former members of the congregation and Sunday School in Crowle Methodist Church. He is also remembered on his parents grave in Crowle Cemetery.