Lance Corporal Frederick Pratt
30314 7th Bn., Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers who died on 16 August 1917
Frederick Pratt was born in Ruddington, Nottinghamshire in 1887. His parents were John Pratt who worked on the railways as a gas stoker and engine driver, and his wife Hannah. Frederick had eight brothers, William, George, John, Thomas, Percy, David, Frank and Walter and a sister Gertrude. By 1891 the family had moved to Leicester and were living at 214 Avenue Road Extension, Knighton and by 1901 on Welford Road.
In 1909 Frederick married Florence Ada Dixon of Hinckley. At this time he was a shoe hand, living at 18 Knighton Fields Road, the home of his eldest brother William. Sadly Florence died within the first year of their marriage and was buried in the churchyard of St Mary Magdalen, Knighton on 23 February 1910.
Certificate of Frederick’s second marriage to Hilda Esther Lane in 1913.
On 12 May 1913 Frederick remarried Hilda Esther Lane, the daughter of Oadby carter James Stanhope Lane, at St Peter’s Church, Oadby. Their banns were read in St Peter’s on 20 April 1913
Frederick’s service record no longer exists but we know that he initially joined the Leicestershire Regiment. At some point Frederick was transferred to the 7th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and was promoted to Lance Corporal.
The 7th Inniskilling Fusiliers was a service battalion of volunteers, formed in Omagh in October 1914. It formed part of the 16th (Irish) Division. After basic training the battalion landed in France in February 1916. First combat was during an action at Hulluch, 27-29 April 1916. By May 1916 the division had lost a third of its strength and was reinforced with new drafts from England. It is likely that Frederick Pratt was transferred to the Inniskillings in the late Spring of 1916. The 16th (Irish) Division served with distinction on the Somme at the Battles of Guillemont and Ginchy.
Their next major action was at the Battle of Messines, between 7 and 14 June 1917. This was a prelude to the Third Battle of Ypres, also known as Passchendaele.
The Third Battle of Ypres began on 31 July 1917 and the Battle of Langemarck, from 16 to 18 August, was the second Allied general attack against the German 4th Army. Both sides were hampered by unseasonable August downpours and heavy bombardment which destroyed the drainage channels in the flat landscape. The ground became a quagmire which did not begin to dry until September. Lance Corporal Frederick Pratt was killed in action at the Battle of Langemarck on 16 August 1917.
Front line after Battle of Langemarck, 16–18 August 1917
A British soldier surveys the landscape from a captured German blockhouse at the Battle of Langemarck
Lance Corporal Frederick Pratt is Buried with Honour at Dochy Farm New British Cemetery, Langemarck-Poelkapelle, Belgium. He is also honoured on the Oadby War memorial and his name appears on the Lane family memorial in Oadby Cemetery, alongside that of his wife Hilda.
Frederick’s headstone at Dochy Farm New British Cemetery, Langemarck-Poelkapelle, Belgium
Frederick Pratt and his wife Hilda are remembered on the Lane family memorial in Oadby Cemetery.