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War Memorials

In Memory of
Private 60682
1st/8th Battn/Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby) Regiment
Who Died of Wounds on Monday, 3rd September 1917
Age 35

Plot XXII R 2
Etaples Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France

Commemorated in Perpetuity
by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Remembered with Honour
Etaples Military Cemetery

Etaples Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France1

Arthur Percy Frettingham (usually known as 'Percy') was born in Beeston in 18812, the third of four children and younger son of William Henry and Ethel Miller (née Hogg) Frettingham. William Henry Frettingham (1848-1915) was the latest in the family to work the nursery gardens that had been started by his grandfather, George Frettingham (1786-1853) and continued by his father, Henry Frettingham (c1819-1884). The business appears to have started in Chilwell - where the family originated from and where it continued to hold land - but, by the second part of the 19th century, its main focus was in Beeston, on land between Moore Gate and what is now Queens Road. The family were Baptists and George had been one of the original trustees of the Baptist church at Beeston, built in 1806 on land adjacent to the Frettingham's nursery on Moore Gate3. William Henry Frettingham also served as a trustee from 1885 until his death in 1915. After his father's death in 1884, as the only son, he had taken charge at the nursery and moved, with his wife and their four children, to live at 22 Moore Gate4. By 1901, both of his sons, including Percy, then aged 19, were working in the business5. By 1911, when Percy's eldest sister and his brother had married and moved to live elsewhere, he remained living and working there with his parents and younger sister6.

Although his Army Service Record has not survived, it appears that Percy enlisted, probably as a conscript, in September 19167. Having first joined the 15th Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment) for training, he then joined 1/8th Battalion in France, probably in the spring of 1917. The battalion had originally landed in France in May 1915 with 139th Brigade of 46th Division and had taken part in several actions on the Western Front in 1915 and 1916. After the terrible winter of 1916/17 on the Somme, which became a matter of survival from the rain, snow, fog, mud, waterlogged trenches and shell-holes, the battalion took part in the operations on the Ancre during the first three months of 19178. In particular, the battalion was intensely involved at Gommecourt in the area of Pigeon Wood9. This series of actions, designed to uncover remaining German positions in the Ancre valley and to break its hold on the village of Serre, were an overall success and resulted in German withdrawal of as much as 25 miles to the Hindenburg Line. Although we cannot be sure, this may have been Private Frettingham's first exposure to action.

From April, the battalion was in action on the Pas-de-Calais area around Lievin and Cambrin, east of Bethune, often in support of the 7th and 5th Sherwoods. Although we again cannot be sure, it seems likely that it was in August - when the battalion diary reported only "few casualties" - that Private Frettingham was one of 22 other ranks wounded during that month10.

After receiving basic emergency treatment in a nearby Regimental Aid Post he would have been passed back to an Advance Dressing Station, then to a Casualty Clearing Station which would organise transfer to a military hospital - in Private Frettingham's case in appears likely that he was moved to No 7 Canadian General Hospital11. This was one of the large group of hospitals then operational at Etaples which together could deal with 22,000 wounded or sick at its peak by the end of the War. Sadly, despite everyone's best efforts, Private Frettingham died from his wounds on 3rd September. He was buried in the nearby Etaples Military Cemetery. This cemetery, the largest Commonwealth War Grave Commission cemetery in France, contains 10,771 Commonwealth burials of the Great War. It also contains 119 burials from the Second World War and 662 Non Commonwealth burials, mainly German.

Percy was posthumously awarded the British Medal and the Victory Medal12. His financial effects of 6 1s 6d were paid to his sole legatee, Annie Griffin on 16 July 1918 and she received his War Gratuity of 3 10s on 5 March 192013. A notice of his death, inserted by a friend, "H.V.R"14, appeared in the Nottingham Evening Post :

frettingham 1917

For the Frettingham family this was a further tragedy in a series of terrible events that had hit them. Percy's mother had died in December 1913, followed by her husband, William Henry Frettingham, in March 1915. William Henry had been vital to the operation of the nursery gardens and his loss was exacerbated when, not only Percy but his brother William Henry were conscripted into the Army in 1916 leaving the business essentially without management. In William Henry's case, he had joined 560 Agricultural Company of the Labour Corps in June 1916 but was hospitalised with bronchial problems in 1917 and eventually, in 1919, with pneumonia, resulting in his discharge in April 191915. John Moodie. the brother of Rebecca, the wife of William Henry Frettingham, was killed in action with the Lancashire Fusiliers in October 191616. With William Henry apparently unable or unwilling to continue with the nursery business, it was offered for sale in the Nottingham Evening Post, at an attractive low price, in March 1918 :

frettingham 1918

In fact, the business as such never recovered and the land it had occupied was very soon taken over for housing use. The war had destroyed, not only individual lives - including that of William Henry who died in 192417 - but a family business that had thrived in the area for more than a century. It was a catastrophe at every level.

1The photograph of the Etaples Military Cemetery, Pas de Calais. France is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
2His birth was registered, in Basford Registration District (of which Beeston was then part) in Q4 1881 (Ref 7b 157)
3This chapel building still stands on the south side of Nether Street West and is now occupied as a children's day nursery.
41891 Census, Piece 2671 Folio 107. Arthur Percy's siblings were Edith Miller (b. 1876, William Henry (b. 1880) and Florence Ellen (b. 1884).
51901 Census, Piece 3153 Folio 90.
61911 Census, Piece 20427 RD429 SD3 ED7 Sched 41.
7His approximate enlistment date has been calculated based on the amount of his War Gratuity.
8Details of 1st/8th Battalion's formation and deployment in 1914-1917 are from The Forces War Records website (www.forces-war-records.co.uk/units/319/sherwood-foresters-nottinghamshire-and-derbyshire-regiment)
9There is a fuller account of the operation around Gommecourt by battalions of the Notts & Derbyshire Regiment on the Derbyshire Territorials in the Great War website at https://derbyshireterritorials.wordpress.com/the-great-war-1914-1918/1917-2/foncquevillers-gommecourt-advance.
10Details of the battalion's operations in August 1917 are from its War Diary, available on ancestry.com.
11Based on a note with his entry in the Army Register of Soldiers' Effects which states that he died at 'L Can Gen Hosp, France'.
12Percy's medal awards are recorded on his Medal Card and the Medal Rolls, available on ancestry.com.
13Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929, available on ancestry.com. The identity of 'Annie Griffin' has not been confirmed.
14Probably Harold Vincent Richardson (1883-1962). In 1911 he was living with his parents at 11 Park Street, Beeston and, like his father, was working as a joiner with an horticultural builder, probably Foster & Pearsons in Beeston.
15Details from his Army Service Record which is available on ancestry.com.
16John Moodie's memorial page can be seen here 17William Henry Frettingham died in Burton upon Trent Registration District in Q2/1924 (Ref 6c 364). Although his father had left an estate valued at 4,724 in 1915, it seems likely that the value was in the nursery itself, which became devalued by the tragic circumstances. Consequently, William Henry junior appears to have died leaving little or no estate. His widow lived out her life in Beeston, apparently in modest circumstances, where she died in March 1962. She is buried with her parents in Beeston cemetery.

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