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Person Details
19 Nov 1894
Newark on Trent Nottinghamshire
William Fretwell was the son of Ralph and Mary Jane Fretwell (née Wright). His father Ralph was born in 1854 at Newark. His mother Mary Jane was born in Nottingham in 1853 (J/A/S Basford), the daughter of Richard and Mary Wright. The family was living in Newark in 1861; Mary's father was a publican. Ralph and Mary Jane were married on 8 Apri 1878 at Newark St Mary Magdalene. They had nine children, all born in Newark and all but one of whom survived infancy. Seven of the children were baptised at St Mary Magdalene: Richard Samuel b. 19 November 1878; Harry b. 14 February 1881 bap. 26 April 1895; Charlotte Mary b. 16 October 1882 bap. 26 April 1895; Annie b. 13 January 1885 bap. 26 April 1895; Ralph b. 19 April 1887 bap. 26 April 1895; Nellie b. 21 September 1889 bap. 26 April 1895; William b. 19 November 1894 bap. 26 April 1895; Mildred b. 4 April 1898 bap. 1 July 1898 and Elsie b. 1892 (A/M/J Newark) d. 1892 (O/N/D Newark). In 1881 Ralph and Mary were living at 9 Market Place, Newark, with their children Richard (2) and Harry (under 1 year). Ralph was a stonemason and also an eating house keeper and employed one femaie domestic servant. By 1891 the family was living at 5 Charles Street, Newark. Their youngest daughter, Elsie, was born the following year but died before her first birthday. They were still at the same address in 1901 and of their eight surviving children only seven were still living at home: Richard a machinist in an iron foundry, Harry a wood turner, Charlotte (18) a packer in a laundry, Ralph (13) an errand boy, Nellie (11), William (6) and Mildred (2). Also in the household was Samuel Wright (34), Mary's brother, who was a mess room steward at an iron foundry. The second daughter Annie was a domestic servant at a hospital and living with her aunt and uncle, Thomas and Jessie Wright, in Wisbech Cambridgeshire. Thomas was a caretaker at an 'infectious hospital' and Jessie a nurse. Ralph and Mary had moved again by 1911 and were living at 3 Coronation Street, New Balderton. Only William, a core maker, and Mildred were still living at home. There was also a boarder, Ernest Hodgson (30 b. London) who was a letter carrier. Harry and Ralph were living in Coventry in 1911 and their parents also moved to Coventry, along with other members of the family and were living at 3 Mason Road, Foleshill, Coventry, when William was killed in 1916. Mary died in April 1918 (see 'Extra information') and Ralph in August 1930; he was still living at 3 Mason Road. Of William's seven surviving siblings: Richard Samuel married Florence White (b. 10 June 1883) in 1903 (A/M/J Newark) and had six children, Thomas Leonard b. 1904, Florence b. 1905, Harry b. 1907, Lloyd George b. 1910, William b. 2 February 1917 and Samuel b. 1 June 1921. In 1911 they were living on Barnby Gate, Newark, with their four eldest children; Richard was an iron plater. By 1939 they were living on William Street, Newark, with their sons William and Samuel. Richard died in 1951 (J/F/M Newark). Harry and his brother Ralph were both living on Harnall Lane, Coventry, in 1911, boarders in the household of William and Maude Cardall. Harry was working as a borer on ordnance work. He later lived with his parents on Mason Road. Harry married Miriam E Butler in 1919 (J/A/S Coventry) and died in 1927 (O/N/D Coventry). Charlotte Mary also moved to Coventry with her parents and was living at 3 Mason Road when she married Edward Victor Walker on 8 April 1916 at St John the Evangelist, Westminster. Her husband was a cabinet maker and the son of William Sparrow Walker a cabinet manufacturer. In 1939 she and Edward (b. 3 March 1885) were living on Lord North Street, City of Westminster. Charlotte died in 1965 (A/M/J Deptford London). Annie was a staff nurse at the North Eastern Hospital, Tottenham, in 1911, the same hospital in which her sister Nellie was working as a Hospital Assistant Nurse Class 2. Annie has not yet been traced after 1911. Ralph and his brother Harry were both living on Harnall Lane, Coventry, in 1911, boarders in the household of William and Maude Cardall. Ralph was a motor body maker. He married Lilian Dean in 1928 (J/A/S Birmingham North) and died on 22 October 1959; he was then living on Middlemarch Road, Coventry. Nellie was a Hospital Assistant Nurse Class 2 at the North Eastern Hospital, Tottenham in 1911, working in the same hospital as her sister Annie. In 1939 she was living with her married sister Mildred Reid in Coventry; her occupation was given as unpaid domestic duties. She may have married Elisha Hall in 1940 (O/N/D Coventry). Mildred married William Reid (b. 24 September 1903) in 1928 (J/A/S Coventry). In 1939 she and William, a transport driver, were living in Coventry with their child, probably their daughter Mildred (b. 1929), and Mildred's unmarried sister Nellie. Mildred snr. died in 1981 (O/N/D Daventry Northants).
He was a core maker (milling machinist)
18 Oct 1916
750247 - CWGC Website
Wiltshire Regiment (Duke of Edinburgh's)
Private William Fretwell enlisted in Coventry where he lived with his parents. He served initially in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (service number 1479) but later transferred to the 2nd battalion Wiltshire Regiment. William landed in France on 13th May 1915 and was killed in action the following year on 18th October 1916. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France (Pier and Face 13 A). He qualified for the 1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.
William's birth was registered in the fourth quarter of 1894 so he may have been 21 years old when he killed. 'City of Coventry Roll of the Fallen A record of the men of Coventry who fell in the Great War 1914-1918' by Charles Nowell: William Frettwell is named in the book, details include his date and place of birth and his occupation. Coventry Herald, 9 November 1916: ‘Faced Danger Cheerfully’ (text as 10 November 1916) Coventry Herald, 10 November 1916: ‘Private W Fretwell. News has been received by Mrs Fretwell of 3, Mason Road, Foleshill, that her son, Private W Fretwell, Wiltshire Regiment, was killed in action on Oct. 17 (sic). His company sergeant in writing to the family says: ‘I am sure no soldier could have fought more gallantly or faced danger more cheerfully than your dear son, our gallant comrade. Your son was in my Platoon for a long time and I never knew him to shirk a duty, but was always ready to do anything or go anywhere. On the morning of the battle he fought as if it were mere child’s play and when I saw him hit I felt that I had lost a brother. He will be generally missed by all comrades who knew him. A favourite with his Officer, who also fell, he was loved by everyone.' (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Article published 18th November 1916 in the Newark Herald :- 'Youngest son of Mr & Mrs Ralf Fretwell, late of Newark. Enlisted about six months before the war in the Royal Warwick's and was transferred to the Royal Wiltshires the following year. He had his first escape when he was blown up by a heavy shell and he, with the rest of the platoon was buried. Only a few survived. Was in the Battle of Loos, when he was hit by a machine-gun bullet in the right shoulder, but recovered.' Birmingham Daily Post 24 November 1916: 'Casualty Lists ... Fretwell 19645 W (Coventry)' Coventry Evening Telegraph, ‘In Memoriam’, 16 October 1917: Fretwell. In loving memory of Pte W Fretwell Wilts Regiment, who was killed in action, Oct. 17th (sic), 1916. Sadly missed by his mother, father, brothers and sisters. Gone, but not forgotten’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Coventry Evening Telegraph, 8 April 1918: ‘Foleshill Woman’s Death. Taken ill in a meat queue. An inquest was held this afternoon at the Coventry Police Court by the Coroner of Mary Jane Fretwell (65) wife of Ralph Fretwell monumental mason, 3 Mason Road, Foleshill … Witness notice deceased in a trembling condition, and, becoming worse, she was taken into a house. The ambulance was sent for and deceased was removed to the Hospital … the doctor expressed the belief that deceased had some hemorrhage (sic) on the brain, which produced coma, from which she died.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Coventry Evening Telegraph, ‘Thanks’, 20 August 1930: ‘The family of the late Mr Ralph Fretwell, 3, Mason Road, desire to thank all friends and neighbours for their kind sympathy and floral tributes in their sad bereavement.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk)
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