Frederick Proffitt, Private 19774, 8th Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers
Died of wounds 29th April 1916 in Mesopotamia (Iraq), aged 40
Frederick Proffit was born in 1876 and baptised at the same time as his sister Emily at St Michael’s Church, Macclesfield, on 9th October 1878, the son of Isabella and Thomas Proffitt, a weaver of Macclesfield.
In 1881, 5 year old Frederick was living with his parents and sister Emma/Emily (aged 2) at 3 Baker Street, Macclesfield. Ten years later, the family had moved to 4 Spitalfields, Macclesfield, and Frederick had two more brothers – Ernest, aged 5, and Thomas, aged 2. Another brother, John Charles, was born on 10th November 1894 and baptised at St Michael’s Church on 12th February 1896, when the family was living at 19 Newgate. Frederick’s father Thomas died later that year.
Following the death of his father, Frederick found work as a dyer for Mr Lee of Burnley and on 8th July 1897, whilst living at 8 Carey Street, Burnley, he joined the 3rd (Militia) East Lancashire Regiment as private 7842. He stated that he was 18 years of age, and was described as 5 feet 3¼ inches tall, weighed 112 pounds, with a 33 inch chest, and had a fresh complexion, brown hair and brown eyes. He must have decided he liked army life as following month he joined the Army Service Corps as a driver (of horses) with service no. 2/13396, stating that his occupation was a carter, and his next of kin was his sister, Emily Proffitt, of 19 Newgate Street, Macclesfield.
Frederick joined the regiment at Woolwich on 11th August 1897, but was reprimanded for various misdemeanours including being absent without leave on several occasions, and eventually, on 22nd April 1899, he was discharged from service.
On 10th March 1900, Frederick married Eliza Gee at St Michael’s (temporary) Church. At that time, Frederick was a silk weaver living at 33 Daybrook Street and Eliza lived at 15 Jordangate. Their fathers, Thomas Proffitt (silk weaver) and Isaac Gee (quarryman) were both deceased and the marriage was witnessed by John Thomas Gee and Fanny Gee. The following year they were recorded in the census living at 78 Daybrook Street.
Ten years later in 1911, Eliza was recorded in the census lodging with John and Mary Booth at 19 Green Street, Macclesfield, while Frederick spent the night at a Church Army Labour Home at 32 Marsland Street, Portwood, Stockport.
Frederick enlisted at Shotton, near Flint, with the 8th Royal Welsh Fusiliers which formed part of the 40th Brigade, 13th (Western) Division. After a period of training, Frederick joined his Battalion at Gallipoli, in the Lala Baba area, on 1st October 1915.
The Battalion was evacuated on the night of 8th January 1916, from W beach in the Helles area of Gallipoli. They spent two weeks in camp at East Mudros on Lemnos before embarking for Egypt on 24th January, transported by SS Grampian and disembarking at Port Said on 30th January 1916. In February 1916 the 8th Battalion was sent to Mesopotamia (Iraq) as part of the force involved in an attempt to relieve the troops besieged at Kut al Amara.
It is not known where and how Frederick was injured, but he died on 29th April 1916.
Frederick’s death was reported in the Macclesfield Times of 19th May 1916:
“I came Out to do my Bit” – Mrs Proffitt, 19 Green Street, Macclesfield, has been officially informed that her husband, Private Frederick Proffitt, Royal Welsh Fusiliers, died of wounds received in action, at a place not stated, on May 6th [sic].
Private Proffitt was 40 years of age and had previously served in the Royal Horse Artillery. At the commencement of the war he enlisted in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, being then in the employ of Messrs J & T Brocklehurst & Sons Ltd. He was educated at the Mill Street Mission. Private Proffitt, who has two brothers serving, went out to Egypt some twelve months ago, after twelve months training.
Private Frederick Proffitt is buried in Grave Ref. VI. D. 4. at the Amara War Cemetery, Iraq.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private Frederick Proffitt, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.