160824 PTE. R. F. BALDWIN. R.G.A.

 

Richard Frederick Baldwin (Fred to his family) was born in the third quarter of 1892 in Leyland.  Fred’s father was Richard Baldwin (b. 1860 in Farington), a bleacher by trade.  His mother was Mary Alice Parker (b. 1859 in Farington).  The couple were married in 1880 in Preston and they had 8 children, all of whom survived infancy: John Richard (b. 1881), Mary Elizabeth (b. 1883), Thomas Parker (b. 1885), Mary A (b 1887), Harriet (b. 1889), George William (b. 1890), then Fred and finally Agnes Maud (b. 1895).  Growing up, Fred had a close association with St. James’s Church in Lostock Hall though it seems the family never actually lived in the village.  In 1911, they were living at 10 Railway Road, Chorley, and Fred then 18 was working as a laundry van man.  3 years later, in 1914, Fred married Clara Bush (b. 1887 in Oswaldtwistle) at Leyland St Ambrose.  They already had a son by the time they were married – John Bush Baldwin was born in 1912.

 

Fred enlisted at Leyland in the Royal Garrison Artillery and was assigned service number 160824.  As this is a ‘new-style’ number it is likely that he went into active service in late 1916 or early 1917.  He was posted to 195 Siege Battery, who landed in France on 28 November 1916.  195 Bty was equipped with 6 x 6” howitzers, and they came under the command of 29th Brigade, RGA.

 

It is difficult to be precise about the action Fred was involved in, but it seems he was hit by a splinter, perhaps shrapnel, and he died when the wound became infected.  He was near Étricourt which was occupied by Commonwealth troops at the beginning of April 1917 during the German withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line. It was lost on the 23 March 1918 when the Germans advanced, but regained at the beginning of September.  Fred was killed on 31 January 1918, aged 25.

 

Rank:  Gunner

Service No:  160824

Date of Death:  31/01/1918

Age:  25 (CWGC incorrectly records his age as 27, all other sources say 25).

Regiment/Service:  Royal Garrison Artillery, 195th Siege Bty.

Grave Reference:  IX. E. 27.

Cemetery:  ROCQUIGNY-EQUANCOURT ROAD BRITISH CEMETERY, MANANCOURT

Additional Information:  Husband of Clara Baldwin, of 6 George Street, Leyland.

 

Fred’s brother Tom also served in the War.  He served initially as 11166 PTE. T. P. BALDWIN. L.N.LAN.R. He enlisted in 1Bn on 17 August 1914.  Tom had first enlisted in the Army in 1901, lying about his age.  He claimed to be 18 but was only 16 but he was accepted in the Shropshire Light Infantry, with service number 6615.  He served in South Africa from 2 June 1902 to 6 January 1903.  He was transferred to the reserve in April 1904 and then completed 9 years in the reserve and was discharged in 1913. He had married Alice Hayhurst (b. 1881 in Broughton) in 1910 and by 1914 the couple had two children.  Nevertheless, Tom re-enlisted.  Tom disembarked in France on 22 September 1914.  He probably joined his battalion in the field in Belgium as they prepared for the First Battle of Ypres.  Tom was wounded in action at Ypres on 8 November 1914, when he was shot with a bullet through his back, left arm and right shoulder.  He was eventually discharged from the Army on 24 March 1915.  He and Alice had another son in 1916, but Tom was not finished serving in the Army.  On 18 May 1917, he enlisted again, this time with the Royal Army Service Corps.  He was assigned a new service number, M/322489 and promoted to Sergeant.  He did not return abroad though as his ASC service was in Scotland (Ayrshire and Edinburgh) where Tom worked as a motor driver (steam).  Tom had a fourth child, born in October 1918.  He named his son Frederick Richard after his brother Fred who had been killed earlier that year. Tom was finally discharged in 1919 and died in 1945. 

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