Private Frederick C G Mould
27838 7th Bn. Leicestershire Regiment who died on 28 October 1917
Frederick Charles Garner Mould was born in Wigston Magna in 1884. He was the son of Arthur and Eliza Ellen (nee Garner) Mould and one of six children (a seventh child died in infancy). In 1901 the family was living at 66 Leicester Road, Wigston with Arthur working as a railway platelayer and Frederick as a hosiery worker.
Leicester Road, Wigston Magna at the junction of Aylestone Lane
Leicester Road, Wigston Magna c.1904
Frederick enlisted on 3rd June 1901 aged 17 in the 3rd Battalion Leicestershire Regiment. At the time he was a shoe hand employed by Toone and Blacks of Wigston. In 1903, he transferred to the Northumberland Fusiliers. His service record notes he was 5ft 5 inches and had a tattoo of a girl’s head and hat on his right forehand. Although promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal in August 1903, he reverted to Private at his own request in September. No details are given in his record but Frederick was discharged as medically unfit in April 1904.
Toone and Blacks Shoe factory, Wigston
He returned to Leicester and on 10 July 1909 he married Ellen Kirk. Their son Albert was born later that year. When war broke out Frederick was a framework knitter living in East Street Oadby. In 1911 the family were living in Albion Street.
During the autumn of 1915 The Derby Scheme required all men of military age to attest to their willingness to serve if called upon. They received a day’s pay for attesting and were placed on the Reserve awaiting call up. Frederick attested on 4 December 1915.
Frederick was called up in early 1916 to the 3rd Leicesters and posted to Patrington Camp near Hull. He underwent basic training and, on 16 November 1916, embarked from Folkestone for service overseas. He was posted as a replacement draft, first to the 11th Battalion and later to the 7th Battalion Leicestershire Regiment.
Fredrick’s service record for this period no longer exists but it is probable that in the spring of 1917 he was a member of the Leicester service battalions (110th Leicester Brigade) ordered to pursue the Germans who had retreated to the Hindenburg Line. In their withdrawal the Germans had conducted a scorched earth policy, destroying villages and crops, booby-trapping roads and buildings and contaminating wells.
2nd Lieutenant Frank Pitts of the 8th Leicesters wrote home, ‘what does the Boche leave behind him in his retreat? Nothing, absolutely nothing. Every village we pass is just a mass of bricks and wood, blown to atoms. Wells have been poisoned….not a civilian anywhere, but instead dead British and Germans!’
The ordered destruction even distressed the perpetrators: Captain Rudolf Binding, a German staff officer, admitted that ‘The expulsion of the inhabitants from their little towns and villages was a heart rending business, more ghastly than murder’.
As the 110th Brigade progressed across this barren landscape Dick Read of 8th Leicesters described finding a well in a destroyed farm house ‘….but the appalling stench drove us away – it had been fouled with excreta. I think at these moments we felt more bitter about the enemy than at any other time before or after’. Further dangers lurked in booby trapped ruins and roads. On 4 April the infantry reached the formidable Hindenburg Line.
The 7th Leicesters saw action at Scarpe and around Bullecourte during the spring and summer of 1917 and then retired to divisional reserve until entering the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) in September 1917.
Destroyed landscape of Polygon Wood 1917
Duckboard paths on the Passchendaele battlefield
On the night of 30 September the 110th brigade marched along duck boards across the muddy Passchendaele battlefield to Polygon Wood to relieve the 32nd Australian Division. D A Bacon of 9th Leicesters recalled that at 5.30am, ‘the enemy launched a determined infantry assault against our positions, through a smoke screen.’ The attack continued in waves throughout the day and although the 7th Leicesters were held in reserve positions the The 8th and 9th Leicesters sustained heavy losses. The next few weeks saw the battalion holding the line at Polygon Wood.
Medical orderlies attempt to move an injured man from the Passchendaele battlefield
In October 1917 the 7th Leicesters formed part of the force advancing on the village of Passchendaele. Unfortunately the pages of the battalion war diary for the period 26 to 30 October are missing with the note ‘The remaining portion of the October diary will be forwarded when the Battalion comes out of line’. The location is unknown but Frederick suffered shrapnel wounds on 27 October and died at a casualty clearing station on 28 October.
He is Remembered with Honour at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Poperinghe, Belgium and on the Oadby War Memorial.
In 1919 his widow Ellen Mould married Charles Granger.
Private Frederick CG Mould’s headstone at Lijssenthoek Cemetery, Poperinge, Belgium
Photographs of Old Wigston Magna are reproduced courtesy of the Greater Wigston Historical Society