Fred Matthew Oakes, Private 87174, 3rd Coy. Machine Gun Corps (Infantry)
Killed in action 28th March 1918 in France, aged 32
Fred Matthew Oakes was baptised on 12 August 1885 at Hurdsfield Holy Trinity Church, Macclesfield, the son of Sarah Hannah and Walter Oakes, a stonemason of Hurdsfield. He was known as Matthew.
Before enlistment in the Army, Matthew was employed as a drayman by the Goods Dept of the Great Central Railway at Hibel Road Station, Macclesfield.
Matthew attested on 28 August 1916 and was mobilised on 27 November 1916, joining the 4th battalion of the Cheshire Regiment. He stated that he lived at 60a Hurdsfield Road, Macclesfield, and was 28 years of age.
He was transferred to the Machine Gun Corps on 11 March 1917 and made the journey to France a few weeks later on 25 April, travelling via Folkestone and Boulogne.
On 30 January 1918 Matthew was admitted to 142 Field Ambulance Hospital for three days, suffering from deafness and towards the end of February was allowed to return to the UK for a few days’ leave. Shortly after returning to duty, he had an attack of laryngitis and was admitted to 102 Field Ambulance Hospital for two days on 18 March 1918.
Private Oakes was killed in action on 28 March 1918; his death was reported in the Macclesfield Times on 19 April 1918:
Unofficial news has reached Mrs Oakes, 60a Commercial Rd, Macclesfield, that her son, Pte Matthew Oakes, Machine Gun Corps, attached Cheshire Regt, was killed in France on April 3rd. Mrs Oakes had not heard from her son for three weeks and a letter conveyed to him was returned by the officer, who conveyed the information. Pte Oakes was 28 years of age and was educated at Duke Street School. In civil life he was employed at Hibel Road Station. He joined the Army nearly two years ago and was posted out to France eleven months back. His brother, Gunner George Oakes, Royal Field Artillery, is stationed at London.
Private Matthew Oakes has no known grave and is commemorated on panel ref. Bay 10 of the Arras Memorial, France. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private Matthew Oakes, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
Mill Street Mission held a memorial service to Private Oakes on Sunday 28 April 1918, as reported in the Macclesfield Times on 3rd May 1918:
A memorial service to Private Oakes, Machine Gun Corps, recently killed, was held at Mill Street Mission, Macclesfield, on Sunday. Mr N B Storey referred to the deceased’s connection with the Mission, and described him as a quiet, plodding young man who could always be depended on…
WWI British Army Service Records 1914-1920 (Find My Past)
WWI Fallen Railwaymen database (National Railway Museum)
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Lives of the First World War website
Macclesfield Times: 19 April 1918, 3 May 1918, 30 September 1921