Private Cecil Arthur Fearn, 57723, 10th Bn., Lancashire Fusiliers
who died on 31 August 1918
Cecil Arthur Fearn and his twin sister May were the first children of George and Lily (née Hall) Fearn. They were born on 28 November 1899. The 1901 Census shows the family living at 69 Francis Street, Leicester. Father George was a domestic gardener which may have prompted the family’s move to Oadby. In the early 1900s many large gardens were being created around the newly built homes in the Oadby Top area. The Fearns also had a daughter Elsie who was born in 1902. By 1911 the family had moved to Sandhurst Street, Oadby.
London Road looking north in 1940s. Sandhurst Street is on the left
Cecil’s service record no longer exists but we know from the Medal Index Roll that at some point he was serving with the Notts and Derby Regiment, his service number being 50492. Unless Cecil inflated his age when he attested, we can probably assume that he enlisted in this regiment sometime towards the end of 1917. He was only 18 years old at the time of his death, and he would have had to undertake a period of basic training on home soil. In theory he should not have been eligible for overseas service until his 19th birthday. However this regulation was often flouted and it is likely that Cecil was posted to France soon after his basic training was completed. He probably transferred as a replacement draft to the Lancashire Fusiliers when he arrived in the field. He was posted to the 10th Battalion and allocated service number 57723. The Lancashire Fusiliers formed part of the 17th Division.
Ruined village of Martinpuich as Cecil would have seen it in August 1918
During August 1918 the 17th Division was involved in the victorious advance across the old Somme battlefield from the River Ancre to the Canal du Nord. On the 24 August the ruined villages of Martinpuich and Courcelette were occupied without meeting any resistance. However, east of these positions the Germans offered serious opposition to the advance. Enemy counterattacks were repulsed. British artillery reinforcements arrived, a brigade of: field-artillery, 6-inch howitzers and 60-pounders. On the 26 August the 52 Brigade attacked High Wood and drove the Germans out of this strong point, taking 118 prisoners. From the 27 August there was continuous fighting. Following a pause to rest and re-organise the advance recommenced on the 29 August. The Germans kept up a heavy artillery fire against the advancing Tommies. On 31 August there was heavy artillery fire from both sides.
Cecil Arthur Fearn died on 31 August 1918, in all probability during heavy shell fire. His body was never recovered from the battlefield.
Cecil is remembered with honour on the Vis-En-Artois Memorial, France. He is also commemorated on the Oadby War Memorial and on the Oadby Council Senior School memorial now located in Launde Primary School, Oadby
Oadby Senior School Memorial
Cecil Fearn’s ‘Death Penny’ which was presented to his family along with his Victory Medal and British War Medal
Other Family Members
Cecil’s twin sister May Annie Fearn married Stanley A Bromley in 1923 and we are grateful to their son David Bromley for additional information about Cecil and photographs of family memorabilia.
May Annie Fearn’s birth certificate