Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

Frederick George Walton

Frederick George Walton :

Frederick George Walton : (L to R) Military Medal; 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal

(L to R) Military Medal; 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal

We don't know anything about Frederick's early life or family, although we believe he grew up in Leeds, Yorkshire.

By 1913 Frederick seems to have lived in Manchester. During the autumn of that year he enlisted in the 7th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. This was a unit of the Territorial Force based at Burlington Street in Manchester. Frederick kept his civilian home and job and trained as a soldier during evenings and weekends. There was also an annual training camp, lasting around 2 weeks. He was given the service number 1760.

The First World War broke out in early August 1914 and the 7th Battalion was called into service. On the 10th September it set sail for Egypt. Frederick went with them and arrived in Alexandria on the 25th. Half of B Company did not land in Egypt and were sent to Cyprus; the rest of the battalion was sent to Khartoum in Sudan. Frederick continued to Khartoum.

In January 1915 Frederick was a member of either 3 Platoon or 14 Platoon. These two units played each other at football on the 4th. The match was reported in the 7th Battalion's newspaper, the Sentry, in the form of a poem. 'Fred Walton he held Kershaw well in hand' was the writer's assessment of Frederick's game. Unfortunately the writer didn't record which team Frederick played for, or the score!

The renamed 1/7th Battalion went to war on the 6th May 1915 when they took part in the invasion of Gallipoli. They took part in heavy fighting during June, July and August. The rest of the year was quieter, but still dangerous.

Towards the end of the year there was again time for football. Frederick was a member of the 1/7th Battalion team as they played the 1/6th, the 1/8th and the 1/10th Battalions, and a unit of the Royal Army Medical Corps.

The team was 'fortunate enough to escape casualties' during periods in the front line, but at times games had to 'await the Turks until they had finished shelling the ground. Shells actually dropped right into the centre of the playing pitch and even through the goals'.

The 1/7th Battalion left Gallipoli on the 21st January 1916 and returned to Egypt. They moved into the Sinai Desert and began preparing defences to protect the Suez Canal against a Turkish attack.

In March 1917 Frederick and the 1/7th Battalion was sent to the Western Front in France and Belgium. At around the same time soldiers serving in Territorial units were given new service numbers: Frederick's became 275604.

The 1/7th Battalion fought at Havrincourt during April 1917 before moving north to take part in the Passchendaele Offensive around the Belgian city of Ypres (now Ieper). Frederick took part in this campaign and fought at Nieuport (now Nieuwpoort) on the Channel coast. In November the battalion returned to France and by the end of the year they were stationed near Givenchy.

On the 21st March 1918 the Germans launched a major offensive aimed at defeating the Allies before large number of American soldiers could enter the war against them. The 1/7th Battalion did their best to slow down the attack as they retreated through Bucquoy and Gommecourt. They were relieved in early April.

By the summer of 1918 the Allies had defeated the German offensive. On the 8th August the Allies began their own attack. This would become known as the Hundred Days Offensive and it led to the end of the war in November 1918. Frederick had been promoted to Lance Corporal by this time.

During this offensive Frederick was awarded the Military Medal for bravery. The award was published in the London Gazette of the 13th March 1919. This is his citation:

On 27th September 1918, South East of Havrincourt during the attack, seeing that the company was held up, this Non Commissioned Officer dashed forward 100 yards under very heavy fire with a Lewis Gun and 4 magazines and opened fire on the enemy with great effect. Owing to his gallant conduct the Company was able to reach its objective.

The 1/7th Battalion continued to advance until the end of the war. Frederick was demobilised and returned home a few weeks later, on the 26th January 1919.

The rest of Frederick's life remains a mystery. We know he married and had at least one son, but nothing else. His medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in October 2011.

Museum of the Manchester Regiment
c/o Portland Basin Museum
Portland Place
Heritage Wharf
Ashton-under-Lyne
OL7 0QA

Telephone: 0161 343 2878
Email: Portland.Basin@tameside.gov.uk
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Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council