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WW1 Centenary
Serjeant Walter Augustus Fernyhough 20004 6th (Service) Battalion Loyal North Lancs
Walter was born "about 1890" in Mickle Trafford Cheshire, one of 15 children. His father was 53 at the time of Walter's birth. His mother was Mary. His birth was recorded in the July/August/September register. His father's profession is listed as farmer / milkman. Following the death of his father Walter was sent to Wansted Orphanage as an "inmate/orphan" aged 11 where "orphan children of once well-to-do parents in reduced circumstances are brought up and educated until 15 years of age" After receiving his early training, he attended Llanferres School. The Rev. O. Bowen Price saw that he was "a boy of great promise and superior abilities, and generously undertook to continue his studies. He came to the Rectory for two hours in the early morning on five days of the week continuously for three years or more". In the village he was a member of the church choir and usually read the lessons. He was an assistant at Llanferres school before moving to a parish school in Preston, although, oddly his profession is listed as "farmer" in the 1911 census. His family at that time were living at Pwll-y-Blawd in Loggerheads. He resigned his post in Preston as Assistant Master after four years and enlisted with the Loyal North Lancs in January 1915, 6th (Service) Battalion, 38th Brigade, 13th (Western) Division (known as the "Iron Division") and undertook his basic training at Tidworth and then Blackdown Camp on Salisbury Plain (now Deepcut Barracks) The Rector of Llanferres received an appreciation of his school work from a Mr Fitton at Preston "This was no sudden decision. Many times since the outbreak of war, duty called to him in a threefold way - to his home, his country and his scholars. His duty to his country prevailed for in his own words "in my duty to my country are included to home and scholars" With him duty was everything and where duty and inclination fought their battles duty prevailed without exception" The Loyal North Lancs was formed in Preston in August 1914 (Army Order 324 which authorised the raising of 6 new Divisions) as part of the K1 (Kitchener) armies (the first 100,000 - raised in less than one week, including 30,000 on a single day). On 7th June 1915, orders were received to prepare to move to the Mediterranean and they left Avonmouth on the "Braemar Castle" on the 17th, a journey of 6 days to Gallipoli via Malta, Alexandria and Mudros (Greece), landing at Cape Helles on the Southern peninsula; Walter probably joining his battalion later when they returned to Mudros on August 31st for relief. They returned to Gallipoli on 4th August and bivouacked in Victoria Gully (Lone Pine) further up the Peninsula off Anzac Cove. The battalion was almost immediately involved in action on the 8th / 9th August attempting to relieve New Zealanders who had held a low ridge called Sari Bair for 3 days and only finally called for assistance when their water ran out "as they wanted the glory of taking it for themselves" - [extract from War diary] The Turks attacked at night in great numbers with bombs and despite the first two lines being cut down by machine gun fire the third line gained the trenches and drove out the defenders after fierce hand to hand fighting. The trenches were almost impossible to defend with a field of fire less than 10 yards in places. A second line was formed but was again overcome despite three bayonet charges. Casualties were heavy with over 450 missing or known killed in action. The battalion War diary states "The Loyal North Lancs had only 3 companies engaged on 9th August the others being in reserve. Thus we were stronger than the rest of the units in the Brigade (after the battle). Those 3 companies were practically exterminated except for odd men such as cooks, batmen etc - Battalion 150 strong plus 6 officers" The Turks also suffered heavily in the battle as the Diary states:- "The dead here were so thick that Captain Mann was hard put to it to find a bare spot to sit down on his shooting stick afterward" Following the setbacks at Sari Bair ridge, a more modest objective was set to capture nearby Hill 60 in support of ANZAC forces at the end of August, which failed despite assaults over a week. It was around this period that Walter was seriously wounded by shrapnel whilst on fatigue duties after his battalion relieved the Dorchester and Manchester Regiments at Kazlar Chair near Hill 60 off Anzac Cove. A few days before his death his mother had received a letter from him saying he had been promoted to Serjeant. On the 3rd September 1915 he wrote to his mother "in faint blackened lines" from a base hospital ship, complaining of sleeplessness but full of cheer, hope and love, and thinking that the ship was on its way to England. On the 8th September he succumbed to his wounds and died. Walter is commemorated on the Helles Memorial on Gallipoli and on a plaque in Llanferres church. He is likely to have been buried at sea. His old schoolmaster at Preston wrote "We all regret his loss, but our loss is his gain, and we feel fully assured that in his case, death meant merely the change from one sphere of activity to another. Fernyhough was a man and he has given his life for others. The teachers, scholars and school managers unite in expressing their sympathy for the bereaved, for indeed his scholastic duties were always carried out in a most exemplary manner. Our director of education, Mr. J.A.Berry, M.A. has asked to be associated in all I write to you concerning Walter. We propose to erect some suitable memorial to him on the walls of our schools" Walter was posthumously awarded the 1915 Star, the British War Medal, and the Victory medal - known colloquially as "Pip, Squeak, and Wilfred" Article by Noel Headley of Llanferres. You can contact Noel via the contact page
Plaque in Llanferres Church
Plaque in Llanferres Church
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