Frederick Charles's Story.
Son of Mr. Walter Lancaster and Mrs. Hannah Lancaster, of 29, Moor Lane, Congleton, Cheshire. He had one sister, Maud Lancaster, along with one brother, Walter Lancaster. He was employed as a Shop Assistant in a Fruit Business in 1911.
Gunner Frederick Charles Lancaster enlisted in the Royal Garrison Artillery at Fort Brockhurst, Gosport on the 10th of December 1915 at the age of 19. He was posted to No 2 Depot on the 31st of May 1916, then to the 184th Heavy Battery on the 31st of May 1916 followed by a move to the 112th Heavy Battery on the 9th of October 1916. He left for France on the 30th of September 1916. Gunner Lancaster was near a dug out in the vicinity of Beaumont Hamel when a shell fell close to him and killed him instantly.
Extract from the Congleton Chronicle 1917
Mr. and Mrs. Walter Lancaster of Moor Lane, Congleton on Thursday last received the sad news that their eldest son Gunner Fred Lancaster of the Royal Garrison Artillery was killed on Saturday afternoon last. The letters written by his Officers convey to the family their deepest sympathy at the loss of such a fine young soldier, who had made many friends in the Company. On his last leave, which he spent at home in August 1916, he rescued an old gentleman (the late Mr. Dale, of Mill Street) from drowning in the River Dane. Yet he claimed many friends in Congleton, who were shocked at the news of his death. He had a cheerful disposition and by the letters he sent to his parents never a word of complaint. In the last letter he was destined to write he urged those at home not to worry about him (as he was quite alright and still living). He mentioned I have not seen any of my pals yet, it would be nice to see someone from Congleton, I may do one of these days. He passed through all the classes in the Wagg's Street Day School. He was a round intelligent lad and was very regular in attendance. Like all lads of his age, he got into boyish scrapes, but he possessed one great qualification, one could always rely on his perfect truthfulness, even if it should be against his own best interests at the time. He also regularly attended Sunday School and took a special interest in Foreign Missions, being a very successful collector for this very deserving cause. The sad news of his death was conveyed in the following letter from his Major,
Dear, Mrs. Lancaster,
I very much regret to have to inform you that you son No 92255 Gunner F. Lancaster was killed in action yesterday afternoon the 27th of January at about 15:00 hours. I have known him some three or four months since he joined my Battery and I have always found him very good and keen on his work and ready to turn his hand to anything. It may be some slight satisfaction for you to know that your son was killed while actually in the performance of his duties and also that he suffered no pain in his death, in my opinion it being instantaneous. He was buried this morning Sunday the 28th of January by an Army Chaplain in a recognised Military Cemetery and the Graves Regulation Committee will mark, register and care for the grave. I wish to offer you my deepest sympathy in your great loss and to tell you how I feel for you. If I can give you any more information, please don't hesitate to write to me. Your late sons belongings and effects will be forwarded to you in due course.
Lieutenant Waite also pays a glowing tribute to the young soldier and writing on the 28th of January says, it is with deep sorrow that I find it my duty to break the sad news to you of the loss of your boy. He was killed while working with a dug-out party. It has been a dreadful shock to us all and what it will be to you I dare not think. In my position as his Section Officer I had more to do with him than any other, in fact, he has been with me during most of his training in England, at any rate, since the end of July last year, finally coming out with my section to join this Battery. Since then, although most of the men were changed about, he still remained in my section. I always had my eye on him, as he seemed such a really good fellow and very keen to do his duty. This he has done and paid the full price. I can only say he was making an excellent soldier and will be much missed in the Section, where he was very popular. Apparently, he was digging well down in a pit and a shell burst some distance beyond it, a fragment flying right back, killed him instantly. So, he did not suffer at all. We buried him in a soldier’s cemetery where many others have been laid. The Chaplain who is attached to several Batteries took the service, twelve of his chief friends and members of his Sub Section being present in addition to his Sergeant (under whom he had trained), his Major and myself. Many of the other men who could be spared came too, but we had to send them back as thing were not too safe. I have told you everything, as I feel sure you would like to know. Should there be anything else I can do, please do not hesitate to write to me. It is dreadfully sad, as he was so young and full of promise and I pray that you may be helped to bear this blow.
As has been intimated Gunner Lancaster was closely associated with Wagg's Street Sunday School and his parents have received the following letter of sympathy from Mr. H. Berisford on behalf of the school.
Dear, Mr. and Mrs. Lancaster,
On behalf of the Sunday School I beg to convey to you our deepest sympathy in the great sorrow which has fallen upon you by the death of your son Fred. For many years now he has been associated with us in our school life and we feel that we lost a comrade whom we had learned to love and respect. For years now he has been keenly interested in and done splendid work for the great missionary cause and we know that in this we have lost a willing and devoted worker. It has been my pleasure to receive many letters from him since he joined the forces and each one testified to his strong adherence to the principles of true religion. He has indeed laid down his life for his Country and now has earned the victors crown. May the God of Peace comfort you in your sorrow, which we share.
Mr. Berisford has received a letter from Gunner Herbert Hall of Congleton, a lifelong friend of the dead soldier expressing his sorrow at the loss of such a steadfast friend. Gunner Hall was present when the mortal remains were committed to the earth.
Cheshire County Memorial Project would like to thank John and Christopher Pullen for this information on Frederick. Headstone picture taken by Cheshire County Memorial Project.