Fred Chambers

Area: Brotherton
Born: 1889
Died: 8.11.1918
Service number: 66993
Rank: Private
Regiment / Service: King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry

War Service

Fred enlisted in the 1st battalion of the K.O.Y.L.I. This was a regular battalion that had been in Singapore at the outbreak of the war. It returned to England and landed at Southampton on 9 November 1914, then moved to Hursley Park and on to Harwich on 18 November.

On the 17 December 1914 it returned to Hursley Park and was attached to 83rd Brigade in 28th Division. Then, on the 16 January 1915 they landed at Le Havre. But by 26 October 1915 the first units left Marseilles for Alexandria (Egypt) five days later and all units were there by 22 November. The Division was then ordered on to Salonika and completed its disembarkation on 4 January 1916. It is highly probable that Fred joined the 1st Battalion about this time as his medal entitlement did not include a 'Star' meaning he was not in a 'theatre of war' until after the end of 1915.

1916

  • The occupation of Mazirko (2 October)
  • The capture of Barakli Jum'a (31 October)

1917

The capture of Ferdie and Essex Trenches - near Barakli Jum'a (15 May)

The capture of Barakli and Kumli (16 October)

1918

20 June 1918 the 1st left the Division and moved to France, landing at Taranto (Italy) 2 July 1918. On the 16 July 1918 it was attached to 151st Brigade in 50th (Northumbrian) Division. The Division had by then taken part in the three great battles against the German offensives of 1918. It had suffered heavy casualties and was exhausted. A decision was taken to rebuild the Division. The original infantry units left and others arrived to take their place, including the 1st Battalion KOYLI.. It was not until October that the Division was once again considered to take the field.

  • The Battle of the St Quentin Canal (29 September - 2 October)#
  • The Battle of the Beaurevoir Line#
  • The Battle of Cambrai 1918 (8-10 October 1918)#

The battles marked # are phases of the Battles of the Hindenburg Line

  • The pursuit to the Selle
  • The Battle of the Selle (17 - 26 October)+
  • The Battle of Valenciennes (1 November)+

The battles marked + are phases of the Final Advance in Picardy.

There were many smaller skirmishes during the final days of the war including the one for Dourlers village which was in German hands during almost the whole of the First World War. Situated east of Cambrai and South of Mons, it was taken on 7 November 1918, after heavy fighting by the 6th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and the 1st K.O.Y.L.I.

It is likely that Fred Chambers was killed in this area on 8 November 1918 and he is one of 147 casualties in the Dourlers Communal Cemetery Extension.  He died just three days before the Armistice was signed and the guns fell silent.

Fred Chambers' name is on the War Memorial in the All Saints churchyard in Pontefract.

Family Life

The Chambers family moved around but must have spent at least 8 years living in Brotherton between 1889 and 1897. Fred's father was Thomas Chambers, a ''miner', who came from Walsall in Staffs (born about 1849) and married Jane from Barnsley (born about 1861).

By 1881 they were living in Normanton where they had the first 4 of their 9 children. They were Timothy Orieil (1881), Solomon (1883), Robert W. (1885) and Benjamin (1887).

From Normanton they moved to Brotherton where the rest of their children were born – Fred (1889), Ellen (1891), Melinda (1893), Thomas (1895) and Florence (1897).They lived in Rob Yard off the High Street.

However, by 1901 they had moved to Tanshelf in Pontefract. Thomas was still mining and all four of the eldest sons were employed as 'Pony Drivers - underground'.

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We Will Remember Them Project

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