SKELTON, Fred

War
1st World War
Date of Birth
Date Attested
Attested at
Valcartier, Quebec
Regimental Number
457442
Rank
Private
Date of Death
Age at Death
27 years 6 months
Cenotaph
Biographical Summary

DIVISIONAL UNIT:        3rd Canadian Infantry Division
                                             9th Infantry Brigade
                                             58th Battalion  -  Central Ontario
                                             “D” Company
                                             Canadian Infantry Corps
SERVICE NO:                   123293
DATE OF BIRTH:            June 12, 1893
                                             Plumbley - Derbyshire - England
DATE OF DEATH:           October 8, 1916                   23 years     3 months
MEMORIAL:                    Vimy Memorial – Vimy                  
                                             Pas de Calais – France
CEMETERY:                    Bairds Cemetery – Stanley Township – County of Huron - Ontario
PARENTS:                         Mr. Frank and Elizabeth Skelton – Brucefield - Ontario
Occupation:                        Butcher                                 Religion:     Church of England
Enlistment:                         September 15, 1915 – London – Ontario in 70th Battalion
Enlistment Age:                 22 years     3 months

Fred was born on the family farm at Plumbley in the County of Derbyshire and in the early 1900s the family moved to Laughton – Rotherham in South Yorkshire and it was here that Fred worked in the family butcher shop serving the workers of the newly opened Dinnington coal mine. 
In early May of 1911 Fed embarked from England an on May 19, 1911 Fred arrived alone from England on the SS Victorian at Quebec City.  He lists his profession as a butcher and indicates his destination is Hensall, Ontario and that his intended occupation will be a farm labourer. Once in Hensall Fred found employment on the farm of Arthur and Jennie Caldwell at Lot 8 ½, Concession 3, in Tuckersmith Township which was located noth-east of Hensall near Kippen.  Fred had neighbours one or two farms away and all are the same age. Being so close we assume they were good friends.
The Skelton family followed their son to Canada and the father arrived in 1912 and moved to the Hensall area. Some time later the remaining members of the family came to Canada and the family then moved to Brucefield.
His two friends joined the 161st Huron Battalion – Edward Cecil Dilling and Warren Livingood. All three friends wrre killed during the war.
Fred wanted to join the Army and enlisted in 1915
Private Skelton went aboard the SS Lapland in Halifax and embarked from Canada on April 24, 1916 and arrived in Liverpool on May 5, 1916. He visits family and is especially fond of his cousin Dora who he sent cards and gifts to. Dora kept all of the gifts and cards she had received from Fred all of her life. 
Private Slelton transfers to 58th Battalion, goes oversees and joins his unit on June 21, 1916. This day was when the Brigade would attack the enemy held Regina Trench. The weather was…winds southeasterly, fair and warm.
“D’ Company was left attack. Each Company had one section of Trench Bombers and 2 Lewis guns. The Battalion on the 58th left was the 43rd Battalion.
At 4:50 the Brigade artillery came down on the enemy positions and the battalion advanced. As they passed through “no man’s land” the Company took heavy casualties from the enemy machine-guns. Between 30 feet and 60 feet out from Regina Trench they encountered barbed wire about 4 feet high and 4 feet deep. The Briade artillery had not damaged or cut the wire. They could not enter the trench. They were subject to very heavy enemy machine-gun and rifle fire as they tried to find a way through the wire. The Company made numerous attempt to get through the wire but each attempt was causing the loss of more men.
They had to advance over 400 yards of No Man’s Land and enter the enemy trenches. The longer it took them to cross this barren landscape the more time the enemy had to leave their deep dug outs, man their positions and prepared to meet the advancing troops. They were unable to run as they moved over rough and wet ground carrying 100 pounds of ammunition, weapons, grenades and water and their uniforms were wet and caked with heavy mud. What enery would they have had when they reached the barbed wire?
The attack could not continue, and those still living dragged themselves and the wounded back to shell holes where they waited to be evacuated which took place in the darkness hours.
They had started the day with approximately 500 officers and men.
What was left of the Company then took shelter in shell holes and as they withdrew they went from shell hole to shell hole and baqck through “no man’s land” to the original jumping off trench under the cover of darkness the following night.
Of all the officers who went forward only one returned unwounded. The total was 30 men killed, 111 men missing and 141 men wounded. That totalled 282 men. 
This day of battle is when Private Skelton was killed in action and was listed as missing and never found.