Fred Ashness, Private TR/4/79924, 53rd Bn. Welsh Regiment
Died of influenza 13th October 1918 at Kinmel Park, North Wales, aged 18
Fred Ashness was born in Macclesfield and baptised on 13 November 1900 at Hurdsfield Holy Trinity Church, Macclesfield, the son of Mary Ellen (nee Gower) and Thomas Ashness, a cotton spinner of 26 Fence Street, Macclesfield. In 1901, six-month-old Fred was living at that address with his parents and siblings John W (6), Arthur (4), and Eliza (2). By 1911 the family had moved to 18 Fence Street and included Nellie (7) and Hilda (2); Eliza was listed in the census as Elsie.
The family later moved to 65 Union Street, Macclesfield. Fred’s mother died in 1918 before he joined the Army, and his father died in 1919.
In his service records, Fred stated that he was employed as a silk dresser.
Fred enlisted in Chester on 21 September 1918 and was appointed to the 53rd (Young Soldier) Battalion of the Welsh Regiment. Four days later he was sent to Kinmel Park, Bodelwyddan, near Abergele, north Wales for training.
On 8 October 1918, Private Ashness was admitted to the Military Hospital, Kinmel Park, with a temperature of 101 degrees, complaining of a cough and severe chest pain, and was diagnosed with influenza. Private Ashness died in Kinmel Park Military Hospital at 5pm on 13 October 1918, just 23 days after being conscripted into the Army. His body was transported back to Macclesfield for burial at Hurdsfield Holy Trinity Church.
The burial of Pte Ashness was reported in the Macclesfield Times on Friday 1 November 1918:
PTE F ASHNESS, Welsh Regt, son of Mr T Ashness, 65 Union Street, Macclesfield, who died of pneumonia while under training in England, was buried with military honours at Hurdsfield Church. He was 18 years of age and was formerly employed at Mrs Leech’s dyeworks, Pearle Street.
Private Fred Ashness is buried at Hurdsfield Holy Trinity Church, Macclesfield, Cheshire, in grave ref. New Yard. K. 19. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private Fred Ashness, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
Locally, Private Fred Ashness is commemorated on the Park Green, Town Hall and St Michael’s Church war memorials, and on St John’s Church roll of honour. The floral tributes laid when the Macclesfield Park Green War Memorial was unveiled on 21 September 1921 included one with the words “In loving remembrance of Private Fred Ashness.”
Brother of Arthur Ashness, who served as (acting) Lance-Corporal 290103 (formerly Private 1424) with the 7th Cheshire Regiment; and of John W Ashness, who served as Gunner 85412 with 154 Siege Battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery and was discharged as being unfit for service on 27 July 1916.
GRO (England & Wales) Index: Births, Deaths
Census (England & Wales): 1901, 1911
WWI British Army Service Records 1914-1920 (Find My Past)
WWI Absent Voters Lists (FindMyPast): Macclesfield Parliamentary Division
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Lives of the First World War website
Macclesfield Times: 1 November 1918
Macclesfield Courier: 24 September 1921 (list of floral tributes)