Fred Vickerstaff, Private 210377, 2/1st Cheshire Yeomanry
Died of pneumonia 28th May 1917 in Morpeth, aged 29
Fred Vickerstaff was born in Macclesfield in 1888, the son of Mary Hannah and Alfred Vickerstaff, a grocer’s assistant. In 1891, three-year-old Fred was living at 41 Peel St, Macclesfield with his parents and siblings Lilian (16), Henry (14), Alfred (11), William (8) and Percy (6). Ten years later in 1901 he was at 154 Bond Street with his sister Lilian, her husband Percy Rathbone and three young children Phyllis (2), Annie (1) and four-month-old baby Arthur, just a few doors down the road from his parents and brother Percy, who lived at 160 Bond Street.
Fred was educated at Christ Church School, and after leaving school was an apprentice at the “K” Boot Shop in Mill Street. Fred later found employment as a salesman with Messrs. Jackson’s, gentleman’s outfitters, in Stockport.
On 29 March 1910 Fred, then living at 25 Fullerton Rd, Heaton Moor, married Melinda Hall of Higher Hurdsfield, Macclesfield, by license at St Martin’s Church, Norris Bank, Stockport. The marriage was witnessed by Fred’s brother Alfred and his wife Olive, who lived in Heaton Norris, Fred’s mother and father having died in 1907 and 1909 respectively.
In 1911 Fred and Melinda were living at 24 Celtic Street, and Fred was employed as a shop assistant in the boot trade. Fred was later transferred to Bolton, and subsequently worked in Warrington.
Fred enlisted in Warrington in October 1916, joining the 2/1st Battalion of the Cheshire Yeomanry, which, during October-November 1916 became the 6th Cyclist Brigade, based in Morpeth, Northumberland. Men from bicycle units were used as messengers and scouts, and carried out some roles which previously used men on horseback.
During his training, Fred became ill with pneumonia and was sent to the 6th Northumberland Red Cross VAD Hospital at Borough Hall, Wellway, Morpeth, where he died on 28 May 1917.
His death was reported in the Macclesfield Times of 8 June 1917:
DEATH WHILE IN TRAINING – CHESHIRE YEOMANRY CYCLIST
We regret to state that Private Fred Vickerstaff, Cheshire Yeomanry Cycling Corps, youngest brother of Mrs P Rathbone, 68 Bridge St, Macclesfield, died in Morpeth Hospital, Northumberland, on May 28th, from pneumonia. Private Vickerstaff was 29 years of age, being the son of the late Mr A Vickerstaff, who formerly carried on business as a grocer in Buxton Road, and grandson of Mr William Vickerstaffe, late of the firm of Vickerstaffe and Burgess, at one time trading as tailors at the top of Mill Street. The deceased soldier was born in Macclesfield and received his education at Christ Church Day School. He was connected with St George’s Church. On leaving school he served his apprenticeship to the boot trade at the “K” Boot Shop, Mill Street. From there he took up a position with Messrs. Jackson’s, gentleman’s outfitters, Stockport. Later he was transferred to Bolton, and subsequently to Warrington.
Private Vickerstaff responded to the call in October, 1916, and was in training in Morpeth, Northumberland. He leaves a widow and one child. Two brothers are serving in the Army, namely: Private Harry Vickerstaff, Cheshire Regt (now expected to return to the front after being in hospital [for] five months suffering from shrapnel wounds); and Private Percy Vickerstaff (serving with the Liverpool Regt in France). The latter was a well-known local runner, and carried off a large number of prizes.
The interment of Private Vickerstaff took place at Morpeth yesterday week. The funeral procession was an imposing one, and many people gathered en route to the churchyard to witness the passing of the cortege, which was headed by the Cheshire Yeomanry firing party. The coffin, covered with the Union Jack, was borne on a transport waggon drawn by four horses. The chief mourners were: Mrs Vickerstaff (widow); Mrs Stanway (sister-in-law); Lance-Corpl W Hall (brother-in-law); Private Peers, Private Combs and Mrs James Brown (Morpeth); and others present included Major Barbour and Captain Cowie (Cheshire Yeomanry), the Commandant of the VAD Hospital, the Matron, Nurses MacDowall, Wilkinson, Young, Hudson, Poynting and Coble, and Corpl. Tarrant.
After Fred’s death, Melinda married Harold Dykes and moved to 73 Hurdsfield Rd, Macclesfield.
Private Fred Vickerstaff is buried in grave ref. 1st Extn. F.6. in Morpeth St Mary & St James Churchyard. His widow asked for a cross and the words “Thy will be done, O Lord” to be added to his headstone.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private Fred Vickerstaff.
Brother of Henry (Harry) Vickerstaff, who served as Private 56497 with the Cheshire Regt, was injured by shrapnel in 1917, and later served as Private 331788 with the Labour Corps; and Percy Vickerstaff, who served as Private 78477 with the Liverpool Regt and Private 53845 with the Labour Corps.
GRO (England & Wales) Index: Births
Census (England & Wales): 1891, 1901, 1911
WWI British Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Macclesfield Times: 8 June 1917
Find A Grave: Photo of Fred Vickerstaff’s grave courtesy of Thomas Hunter Brown