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Fred Talbot

Fred TalbotPrivate Fred Talbot, 25234, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, 10th Battalion

Fred Talbot was the Son of Luther and Mary Talbot, of 5, King's Yard, Healey, Ossett; husband of Annie Elizabeth Talbot, of 6, Low Mill Rd., Healey, Ossett, Yorks. In 1911, Fred Talbot was unmarried and still living with his parents at home with two sisters, a brother and a boarder; a total of seven persons, in a house with just two rooms.

Private Fred Talbot of the 10th Battalion, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry was killed on the 25th of September 1916 whilst fighting in Picardy during the Battle of the Somme. He was 23 years of age and married, leaving a widow and two young children. In civilian life he was employed as a mill-hand having worked at Messrs Fawcett and Firth's (Ltd) factory at Healey, where his father Mr. Luther Talbot, has been employed for many years.1

10th (Service) Battalion, KOYLI was formed at Pontefract in September 1914 as part of K3 and came under command of 64th Brigade in 21st Division. The Battalion moved to Berkhamsted and then to Halton Park (Tring) in October 1914, going on to billets in Maidenhead in November. They returned to Halton Park in April 1915 and went on to Witley in August. In September 1915, they landed in France. on the 13th February 1918 the battalion was disbanded in France, with at least some of the men going to 20th Entrenching Battalion.

The deceased used to be actively associated with Healey Celtic Football Club and other recreative organisations in the borough. Joining the colours in August 1915, he had seven months training, before going to the front in March 1916, and though he has always been in the thick of the fighting, he always wrote home in a cheery, thoughtful strain. In his last letter, written from the trenches, he spoke of having a very rough time recently, though he said it did not shake his confidence in the belief that he would see the war to a finish.

Towards the end of last week, the Rev. A. L. Burnham, vicar of South Ossett, received a letter from a comrade of the deceased, who said that he felt it his duty to state that, with many more of his comrades, Private Talbot had given his life for King and country. The writer added that he knew the deceased in civil life and that he was "one of the best."

Private Fred Talbot is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial,2 Pier and Face 11 C and 12 A. The Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave. Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916.

On 1 July 1916, supported by a French attack to the south, thirteen divisions of Commonwealth forces launched an offensive on a line from north of Gommecourt to Maricourt. Despite a preliminary bombardment lasting seven days, the German defences were barely touched and the attack met unexpectedly fierce resistance. Losses were catastrophic and with only minimal advances on the southern flank, the initial attack was a failure. In the following weeks, huge resources of manpower and equipment were deployed in an attempt to exploit the modest successes of the first day. However, the German Army resisted tenaciously and repeated attacks and counter attacks meant a major battle for every village, copse and farmhouse gained. At the end of September, Thiepval was finally captured. The village had been an original objective of 1 July. Attacks north and east continued throughout October and into November in increasingly difficult weather conditions. The Battle of the Somme finally ended on 18 November with the onset of winter.

Healey Celtic circa 1911

Above: Healey Celtic Football Club, Ossett circa 1911. Fred Talbot is on the back row, fourth from the left.

References:

1. "Ossett Observer", 30th September1916

2. Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site