Sergeant Fred Worrall
(12th April 1890 – 5th March 1976)
1st Manchester Pals Regiment
3, Brookside Road
Memoir Written: January 1973
Fred’s memoir, as far as I can see, was not published and the memoir was written in transcript form. It is comprised of 7 pages with a rough estimated word count of 2, 000 word. The memoir was written in January 1973, and there is no title to the memoir.
He was Born in Seedley, near Manchester, being the third in a family of seven brothers and sisters, two of whom died in infancy. At the time of writing, he had one surviving brother and sister. (The brother lost an arm in 1914 during World War One.)
Fred left school at the age of 14 to work at the Great Northern Railway Office in Manchester, then moved onto a Solicitor’s firm in which he was an engrosser, where he engrossed documents with the stamp “And whereas” and “This Indenture Witnesseth.”
Fred and his friends would visit the Manchester hippodrome some Saturday nights to see a show, which featured a water spectacular. He often visited the socialist cafe in Market street, Manchester called “The Clarion.” Fred and his friends would also visit the Parish Hall some days to participate in the local village dance, where “Admission was sixpence with a cup of tea and a cream cake provided.” (P. 2)
In September 1914, he enlisted in the 1st Manchester Pals, 16th Battalion regiment in World War One. He received his training with his regiment in Heaton Park, where he trained for a few months, before moving to Grantham and from there to Salisbury Plain, a place which Mr. Worrall called “A dreadful place to spend the winter – cold and sticky clay everywhere.” His regiment arrived in France at the end of 1915, in which between September 1914 and November 1915, “We had only fired fifteen rounds of live ammunition.” (P. 3)
When the 1st Manchester Pals got to France, they were posted at Hebuterne, near Gommecourt on the Somme. The regiment were under constant shell fire from the Germans, and they went over the top three times, in which all three times they suffered grevious casualties. Fred Worrall recounts helping to bury and strip his fallen comrades, “An unpleasant job especially if you knew the comrade.” (P. 4) As the war dragged on, Fred was promoted to Sergeant at Brigade headquarters, in which he was given a mule, a typewriter and a stencilling machine. He occupied a dugout at central HQ, although he still suffered from constant shell fire. During one of his home leaves, Fred was able to marry his future wife, whose name he does not give, but through his memoirs it is clear he loved her dearly. For his services in the war, Fred was awarded the Meritorious Service medal, his recommendation being:
“For over three years this N.C.O. has displayed great zeal and devotion to duty. He has performed his duties in a most highly proficient manner and his services have been most valuable. Sergeant Worrall is most thoroughly deserving of reward.” (P. 6)
When he returned from the war, Fred went back to his job at the Solicitor’s office, where he was able to command a decent salary and he became first a managing clerk and then a Managing Conveyancing Clerk until his retirement at 64. Unfortunately, his wife died in 1963, and his only daughter, who was an invalid, died in July 1972. Fred suffered from arthiritis in his later years, meaning he couldn’t go places as much. Despite these hardships, Fred remained in good spirits. As he said, “I have a comfortable home and colour television, a home-help and enough money to see me through.” (P. 6) He enjoyed a good pipe and sherry and he always made the best of things, as he cheerfully quips at the end of his memoir, Fred recounts watching a T.V. show called “What shall we do with Grannie?,” (P. 7) which to Fred, should be changed to “What shall we do with this old soldier?” (P. 7) Fred Worrall died 5th March 1973 of Myocarsitis disease, aged 85, leaving behind his memoir, which is a detailed and vivid account of a wonderful human being.