Frederic Metcalfe in WW1


Fred was the son of Emma (Webster) and fisherman Thomas Metcalfe. The family lived in Wildcroft on Holywell Front, where their trade of fishing and rush gathering was carried out for many years.

Wildcroft – the Metcalf's family home

Frederick followed in the family tradition, around 1891, by becoming a fisherman and was still in that trade in 1911. When he enlisted he gave his occupation as a gentleman's attendant. He was killed in the First World War.

He was born 19th June 1877 the son of Thomas and Emma Metcalfe and at the age of nearly 41, the oldest of our village’s fatalities. He joined the army on the 31 March 1916, aged 39 years 8 months, as a private, number G9244, in the 6th Battalion, The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment which fought in France and Belgium from 6th June 1915 until the Armistice in 1918. Prior to Fred Metca|fe’s death on 12th May 1917 his battalion had fought in the Battles of Loos, Somme and the early parts of Arras.

The Allies original aims for the Arras offensive had become unobtainable very early in the campaign with only the northern most part of the Hindenburg Line being overcome and the Allies still some 3 miles from the Drocourt-Queant Switch which they had intended to overrun in the first days of battle. Sporadic advances for strategic strong points continued into May before petering out and Allied efforts being turned to preparations for the Battles of Messine (June) and 3rd Ypres (July-November).

PoppyOn the 13th and 14th May the battle for the capture of Roeux took place. It was successful but was to be as far as the Allied line advanced in that sector. The 6th Queens part in the attack was to help prepare the way for the main assault on the 13th. On the 12th May they made an unsuccessful attack on Devil’s Trench which was in front of the village of Roeux. Fred Metcalfe lost his life in this attack, our last fatality in the Battles of Arras. His next of kin was his mother Emma whose address was given as Melbourne Place St Ives, the home of her daughter Ellen Freeman.

Frederick’s name is recorded on the Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais, France and the war memorial in Needingworth, Huntingdon. A Private Frederick METCALFE is also recorded on the war memorial in St Ives, Huntingdon. Could they be the same?

METCALFE, Pte. Fred. G/9244. 6th Bn. Queen’s. 12th May, 1917. Age 40. Son of the late Thomas and Emma Metcalfe.

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