Private 16529 Frederick Willetts

Died Mediterranean on Thursday, 19th August 1915, age unknown.
Commemorated on Panel 33 to 35 of Helles Memorial, Turkey.

8th Bn., Northumberland Fusiliers. 34th Brigade of 11th Division.

Son of Mr & Mrs Willetts of Wood Street, Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Wolverhampton, Resident: Unknown.

First landed Balkans, 10th July 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Not commemorated on any Tipton memorial.
Commemorated here because identified as Tipton on 'Soldiers Died in the Great War'.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/684487/

Genealogical Data

1901 Census
64 Owen Street, Tipton, Staffs.
Frederick Willetts (37, School Master's Assistant, born Dudley), his wife Jane (39, Glass & China Dealer, born Tipton), and their 7 children: Annie (11, born Dudley), Jennie (9, born Tipton), Frederick (7, born Tipton), Samuel (6, born Tipton), Harold (4, born Tipton), George (2, born Tipton), and Maud (6 months, born Tipton).

1911 Census
168 Wolverhampton Street (School House), Dudley, Worcs.
Frederick Willetts (47, Caretaker, born Dudley), his wife Jane (48, Caretaker, born Tipton), and their 7 children: Annie (21, Book Binder , born Dudley), Jennie (19, Assistant Caretaker, born Tipton), Frederick (17, LNW Railway Number Taker, born Tipton), Samuel (16, Fitter - Pumps, born Tipton), Harold (13, School, born Tipton), George (11, School, born Tipton), and Maud (10, School, born Tipton).

Personal Data

None Available.

Action resulting in his death

The initial Gallipoli landings in April 1915 at Anzac and Helles resulted in large casualty lists and little progress. To re-start the campaign a further landing was planned, the aim was to capture the Sari Bair Ridge which overlooked the Anzac landing. The landing was to be at Suvla Bay, five miles north of Anzac.

The 8th Northumberland Fusiliers (8/NF) landed at Suvla Bay late on the night of 6 August, under Turkish shrapnel and rifle fire. Over the next 24 hours the troops failed to make any real progress due to the fierce Turkish resistance and lack of drive from the British Commander, Stopford. On 10th August the 8/NF supported an attack on the Anafarta Spur, but this ended with no progress. For the next week they alternated between holding the line and being in divisional reserve; even in reserve they were in range of Turkish guns and took casualties.

On 17th August, the 8/NF took over the front line, holding this until ordered to attack the Turkish trenches facing them at 04.00hrs on 19th August. This is best described by quoting the 8/NF War Diary for 19th August.

"Ordered to attack entrenched position about 700 yards in front of our line, and 1000 yards south of 'W' Hill. Moved out 4am with 'X' and 'Z' Companies front line and 'W' and 'Y' in support. Advanced almost up to enemy trenches, unable to capture position owing to heavy fire of machine guns and rifles; occupied a gully and were caught in closed order at dawn by shrapnel. Had to retire. 2nd Commanding Officer (Major E.E. Williams D.S.O.), Quarter Master and Machine Gun officers killed, 5 officers wounded and three missing. Other ranks - 23 killed, 141 wounded, 88 missing, 2 wounded and missing. Marched back to reserve trenches."

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission shows 111 men of the 8/NF killed on 19th August. All of the men have no known grave and are commemorated on the Helles Memorial with the sole exception of Major E.E. Williams, who is buried in Green Hill Cemetery. Two Tipton-born men were amongst the 111 men of the 8/NF to lose their lives that day: Privates Frederick Willetts and Samuel Sherwood.

Newspaper Cuttings

Tipton Herald May 5th 1917
Mr & Mrs Willetts of Wood Street have 5 of their sons serving with the forces.