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Fred Byton

Date of birth: 21.1.1897
Date of death: 2.9.1916
Area: Wrenthorpe
Regiment: King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (1st/4th Battalion)
Family information: Son of Noah and Mary Byton of Wheel Hill, Bradford Road, Wrenthorpe
Rank: Private
Service number: 3976

War Service

In 1916 Fred was Private 3976 in the KOYLI 1st/4th Battalion when he was killed in action on 2nd September 1916. He was buried in the Lonsdale Cemetery, Authuille and awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal.
His death was reported in the Wakefield Express September 16th 1916
“WRENTHORPE SOLDIER KILLED Mr and Mrs Byton of Wheel Hill, Wrenthorpe has received intimation that their son Pte Fred Byton, Wakefield Territorials was killed on September 2nd. He was only 19 years of age and previous to enlistment in December 1915 he worked at Lofthouse Colliery. He was a brother-in-law of Private G Pursglove who was recently killed.”
In the Battalion war diary, it states that they were in Aveluy Wood on the 1st September 1916 “furnishing working parties digging parallels. Casualties 3 O.R. Killed, 10 wounded.” There are no more details of casualties until 4th September when the Battalion had moved up to North Bluff and one more man was killed. Fred was probably in the former number and the officer had lost track of dates. Presumably some days the diary was written after the date if they had been particularly busy.

Family Life

Fred Byton was born on the 21st January 1897 to Mary and Noah and baptised at St Anne’s on the 24th February. Their address was given as Bragg Lane End.
The 1901 census records them as living at Wheel Hill, Bradford Road with 60-year-old Noah and 49-year-old Mary having 11 children still at home! Eldest son Tom was 26 and worked in the pit, Clara at 20 and Florry 17 worked in the woollen mill. There were no occupations given for Emily aged 14 and Phoebe aged 12 while Lilly aged 10, twins Edith and Mabel aged 8 and 6-year-old Ernest would be at school. The two youngest children were Fred aged 4 and 1 year-old Miriam. In 1911 the census reveals that Mary has had 17 children in her 39-year marriage to Noah, although 3 have already died. Twins Edith and Mabel were twisters in the worsted mill while Ernest was working at the band walk and Miriam was still at school. Fred was working at the colliery as a coal screener (picker). They still lived at Wheel Hill, Wrenthorpe.

Photo of Lonsdale Cemetery Authuille. Rows of white headstones with a central grass path leading to a cross monument. Lonsdale Cemetery Authuille

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