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War Memorials

In Memory of
Private 201417
1st Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers
Who was killed in action on Wednesday, 26th September 1917
Age 22

No Known Grave Panel 60 to 61
Memorial to the "Missing", Tyne Cot Cemetery, Passchendaele, West Flanders, Belgium

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

Tyne Cot Cemetery, Belgium1

Fred Paling was born in Mansfield, Notts in 18952, the youngest of six children of Alfred Dixon Paling (b. c1858, Saxelby, Leicestershire) and Mary Maria, his wife (b. c1858, Beeston, née Lowe). Because Alfred worked on the railway as a signalman, the family moved to various places over the years. By 1901, he was living at 136 Salisbury Street, Beeston with his wife and their six children3. By 1911, they were living at 13 Fletcher Road, Beeston with Fred, then aged 15 and not yet working4.

As Fred's Army Service Record has not survived, we do not have a precise record of when he enlisted, but it was probably in June 19165 with the 1st Battalion, Royal Scots Fusiliers. The battalion had been mobilised in the early days of the war and as part of the British Expeditionary Force, in 9th Brigade of the 3rd Division, had taken part in many of the major actions on the Western Front during 1914 and 1915 and, in 1916, it had been part of the great Somme offensives which had caused such a great loss of lives and injury. Although again we do not have an exact date, it is likely that Fred arrived in France to join his regiment - now part of 8th Brigade - in early 1917. This would have been in time to be part of the Scarpe battles, part of the Arras offensive during April and May 1917 during which the Allies achieved very significant early advances - but with very high casualties and an eventual stalemate6. It would have been a frightening introduction to trench warfare for Private Paling.

Then on the last day of July, the three-month long series of bitter battles which made up the Third Battle of Ypres - also known as Passchendaele - with 1st battalion taking a full part in both the Battle of Menin Road and the Battle of Polygon Wood towards the end of September. At Polygon Wood, the attack was launched at 5.30am on the 26th, by 2nd Royal Scots and 8th East Yorks with 1st Royal Scots Fusiliers and 7th Kings Shropshire Light Infantry in support. The first objective was taken although some of the East Yorks came across marshy ground and had to split up to go round it. At 7am the reserve battalions took over the attack and took the western slopes of Hill 40, just short of the objective. The enemy counter attacked and force the leading troops back but 12th East Yorks attacked and retook all the ground. Private Paling was amongst the 122 men killed from his regiment on that single day.7.

As Private Paling's body was never identified he is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing within the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery of that name. The cemetery grounds were assigned to the United Kingdom in perpetuity by King Albert I of Belgium in recognition of the sacrifices made by the British Empire in the defence and liberation of Belgium during the war. On the forward slope of the Passchendaele Ridge is the largest cemetery for Commonwealth forces in the world, for any war. The cemetery and its surrounding memorial are located outside of Passchendaele, near Zonnebeke in Belgium. The Cross of Sacrifice is to be found in a central position in the cemetery, at the base of the cross a small patch of the original German Block House can still be seen, contained within a bronze wreath, while on the far side, between it and the memorial wall, is a collection of some 300 graves. These are the original battle-field burials left where they were found after the Armistice. The other some nearly 12,000 graves which stand in parade ground order, were brought in from the surrounding area after the Armistice. The stone wall surrounding the cemetery makes up the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing. On completion of the Menin Gate memorial to the missing in Ypres, it was discovered that it was too small to contain all the names that were originally planned. An arbitrary cut-off point of 15th August was chosen and the names of the UK missing after this date were inscribed on the Tyne Cot Memorial instead. The memorial contains the names of 33,783 soldiers of the UK forces and a further 1,176 New Zealanders.8.

Private Paling was posthumously awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal9. His financial effects, amounting to 5 0s 9d were paid to his mother on 11 March 1918 and she was also paid his War Gratuity of 6 on 4 December 191910.

By the end of the war, Fred's parents were living at 30 The City, Beeston11 where they were to live out their lives. Mary Maria died in 1934, followed by her husband Alfred Dixon Paling in 1942.

1The photograph of the Tyne Cot Memorial is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
2His birth was registered in Mansfield Registration District in Q4/1896 (Ref 7b 107).
3Beeston, 1901 Census, Piece 3165 Folio 111
4Beeston, 1911 Census, Piece 20430 RD429 SD3 ED5 Sched 283. Fred's siblings were David (b. c1873), George (b. c1882), Alice Maud (b. 1884), Arthur (b. 1886) and Alfred Dixon (b. 1889).
5The probable date of Andrew's enlistment has been calculated from the amount of his War Gratuity.
6Details of the battalion's deployment are based on the Forces War Records website (www.forces-war-records.co.uk/units/313/royal-scots-fusiliers).
7This account of the battalion's involvement in the Bray Dunes Sector is derived from its war diary.
8The description of the Tyne Cot Cemetery and Memorial is based on that on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
9Details from Fred's Medal Card and Medal Roll - available on ancestry.com.
10Details from "Army Register of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929" - available on ancestry.com.
11This address is recorded in the documentation relating to his CWGC record and on Alfred's probate documentation.
12The death of Mary Maria Paling was registered in Basford Registration District (of which Beeston was part) in Q3/1934 (Ref 7b 171). Probate documentation records that Alfred Dixon Paling died in Nottingham General Hospital on 16 November 1942.

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