Sergeant Frederick George DUNHAM


Regiment/Service:
Sherwood Foresters
(Notts and Derby Regiment)
Unit:
2nd/6th Battalion (Territorial Force)
Service Number:
26776
Date of Death:
30 November 1917 - Killed in Action
Age:
25
Cemetery / Memorial:
Memorial Reference:
Panel 8.


Personal History:

Frederick was born at Potterhandworth, Lincolnshire on 28th January 1892, the son of Joseph (Platelayer) and Hannah of Station Cottage, Skellingthorpe, Lincoln (June 1915). He had two older brothers, Charles W. and Joseph, a younger sister, Mable, and a younger brother, Thomas A. (1901 Census RG 13/3057) All four brothers served in the Army during the Great War.

In 1911 (Census RG 14/19705) he was lodging at Doddington, Lincoln, employed as "Second Waggoner On Farm". There is no record of Frederick marrying. At the time of his enlistment, however, Fred was working in Buxton as a Police Constable, where, according to 'The Buxton Advertiser', 5th January 1918, he was "..respected and esteemed by all who knew him".


Military History:
Frederick enlisted into the Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment) on a Short Service attestation at Buxton on 2nd June 1915, aged 23 years 4 months. At the time of his enlistment he was employed as a 'Police Constable'. He was 5' 9½" (1.76 m) tall and weighed 10 st. 2 lbs. (64.4 kgs) and of "Excellent" physical development.

Initially he was appointed to the 16th Battalion, where he was promoted to Lance Corporal on 13th July 1915, acting Corporal on the 31st, Acting L/Sergeant on 27th August and Acting Sergeant on 4th September. He was posted to France on 6th February 1916, where he stayed until 12th October 1916, before returning home with a gun shot wounds to the arm and head, suffered on 9th October.

After spending a short time at Étaples he returned home and from 14th October to 10th November 1916 he was admitted to Bradford Hospital, then to recuperate at the Command Depot, Ripon, staying 92 days until 2nd March 1917. He was posted back to France on the 26th July 1917, where, on the 17th August he was transferred to the 2/6 Battalion. He had been made a full Sergeant on the 2nd March 1917.

He was again wounded in action on the 26th September 1917 with a gun shot wound to the thigh. After treatment at St Omer, Boulogne and Calais he again rejoined his unit just a month later, on the 26th October 1917.

This very brave man was killed in action only 35 days later on the 30th November 1917, after 2 years and 182 days service. The War Diary shows that on the 25th the Battalion had moved into billets at Équancourt and the next day marched into trenches at the Hindenburg support line. On the 27th and 29th they were engaged digging trenches.

On the 30th November Frederick's Battalion moved to the Hindenburg Line to join the 20th Division and on that day he was killed in action. The Diary for that time reads:

"Digging defensive line on Highland Ridge and moved to Hindenburg Line R16. Battalion in reserve and out of the line since the 6th November when it was in the Lens canal sector". The following day, however, the right flank was heavily attacked at about 3.00 p.m. and the Battalion formed a defensive flank. Without bombs, however, they could not counter-attack.

In reporting his death 'The Buxton Advertiser' of the 5th January 1918 quoted a letter from an Officer of the Battalion to Frederick's parents:

"It may console you to know that your son's death was caused by a shell, and was absolutely instantaneous. As a sergeant he was excellent and commanded the respect of both officers and men, and mainly because of his great self-respect. Not long before his death I had the pleasure of recommending him for a commission. I feel sorry that he has not been spared to accomplish the task, for I am certain he would have made a capable office. I had his body conveyed with the company when we moved, so your son will have a proper burial and the place of internment will be marked."

If this latter promise was indeed carried out, in the subsequent movements of War the location was lost and now Frederick has no known grave and is commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial. Thirty men from Frederick's 2/6th Battalion were killed in action during the three day period, 30th November to 2nd December 1917. They are all, like him, commemorated on the Memorial.

Sources:
· The Buxton Advertiser, 5 January 1918
· I am grateful to Martin McNeela for the War Diary extract.
· .... and also to Pierre Vandervelden for the photograph of Frederick's name on the Memorial

Commemorated on:
Link to CWGC Record
The Cambrai Memorial
Fred Dunham's name on the Memorial
poppy