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Francis William was the eldest son of Frank and Annie Julia Fletcher (née Lewingdon) of Cherington, Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire. His parents were married in Cherington parish church, Cherington, on 22 October 1889 (O/N/D Shipston on Stour Warks). Frank (24) was the son of the late William Fletcher, a labourer, and Annie Julie (25) the daughter of the late Allen Lewingdon, a butler. According to the information provided by Frank Fletcher on the 1911 Census he and his wife had had nine children, all of whom survived, but only seven have been traced on the census between 1891 and 1911. All the children were born in Cherington and their births registered in Shipston on Stour: Francis Wiliam b. 1890 (O/N/D) bap. Cherington 11 January 1891, Allen (Alan) b. 1892 (A/M/J) bap. Cherington 8 May 1892, Emily Norah birth registered 1895 (J/F/M), Marjorie Annie b. 1897 (O/N/D), Thomas Henry Lewingdon birth registered 1899 (J/F/M), Hilda Lucy b. 1901 (A/M/J) and Agnes May b. 14 May 1903 (A/M/J). There is also a registration of the birth of an Edith Lizzie Fletcher, mother's maiden name Lewingdon, in 1896 (J/A/S Shipston on Stour) but no other records have been found for this child. Frank and Annie were recorded living in Cherington on the 1891, 1901 and 1911 Census. In 1891 they had the one child, Francis William (under one year), but by 1901 had five children of whom only four, Francis (10), Allen (9), Marjorie (3) and Thomas (2) were in the home on the night of the census. Emily (6) was registered as a visitor in Evesham in the home of Edmund Mobbs and his family. By 1911 all the children except Francis were still living with their parents; Allen (19) was a house painter while the other children were at school. Francis had left the family home and was a boarder at 18 Langborough Road, Wokingham, and working as a nurseryman. Francis later moved to Nottinghamshire to work on the Welbeck estate at Hunciecroft Paddocks and in the gardens.
In 1911 he was a gardener in Wokingham. He later worked on the Welbeck Estate at Hunciecroft Paddocks and in the gardens.
09 Aug 1915
696114 - CWGC Website
9th Bn Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment)
Francis enlisted at Worksop. His battalion was sent to the Balkans, sailing from Liverpool in early July 1915 for Gallipoli and landing at Suvla Bay 7 August 1915. Francis became one of the casualties who were killed just two days later on 9 August 1915. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Helles Memorial.
Mansfield Reporter, 10 September 1915: ‘Welbeck’s Heroes. Many Portland Estate Employees Fall. Sympathy of the Duke and Duchess. News has reached Welbeck of the death of a number of men who enlisted from the Duke of Portland’s estate, and most of whom are in the Sherwood Foresters. The battalion took part in the fight at Gallipoli, early in August and suffered severely. Among the dead are Lance-Corporal JH Michie, son of his Grace’s wood steward, and Privates William Johnson, Frank [Francis William] Fletcher, Everitt, and Cyril Hancock, all of whom were employed at Hunciecroft Paddocks and in the gardens. Private Arthur Williams is missing, and Private Hayes and Tom Milner are wounded. The sad news has come from Corporal Grant, one of the garden staff, to Mr J Gibson, the Duke’s head gardener. It is a touching letter, and it is easy to discern that it was written under a sense of great personal loss. Corporal Grant writes: ‘Dear Sir, I am writing to confirm the sad news I sent you of those who met their death on the -, It is more than sad to tell you that there is no doubt of the worst having happened to Jimmy Michie, Everitt (from Hunciecroft), Frank Fletcher, William Johnson, and Cyril Hancock. Arthur Williams is missing, and I fear the worst. I have tried several times to find tidings of him but have failed. Hayes from the stable, and Tom Milner are wounded in the legs and are on their way to England. The battle on the , when these men fell was terrible, and the regiment suffered severely, and if you could only have seen the heroism of many of the Welbeck men and others you would have felt more than proud of them. There is no doubt that their behaviour in face of almost certain death, and their coolness was a help to others. Poor lads, they were buried as near as possible where they fell, and a cross on each grave is now all that indicates their last resting place. They fell like heroes. God bless them. The report of Lance-Corporal Michie’s death is confirmed in a letter which Mr and Mrs Michie received from Sergeant Ward, of the 9th Battalion. ‘Just a line,’ he says, ‘to let you know how very sorry I am to inform you of your son’s death. But I am very pleased to say that he died a soldier’s death and was buried by his comrades and we placed a little wooden cross on his grave. He was shot through the heart, death being instantaneous. As you will see by the papers, the Battalion lost very heavily, your son being one of those killed. His loss will be felt by his comrades as he was as good a soldier as could be wished for. I hope you will excuse me taking the liberty of writing to you and letting you know. I can assure you that in your sad sorrow you have his comrades’ sympathy.’ The Duke and Duchess of Portland and members of the family have written to the relatives of the men, expressing sympathy and admiration of their heroism.’ (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk)
Remembered on