Sergt Fred William Ashton was born in Louth, in Lincolnshire on the 3rd March 1892. He as educated at a grammar school and worked as a clerk in the London City and Midland Bank in Grimsby. On the outbreak of war he enlisted in the 10th Lincolnshire Regiment, a locally raised pals battalion and the only “Pals” battalion to be called “Chums.” The battalion joined the 101st Brigade of the 34th Division, moving to France in January 1916. They first saw action in the battle of the Somme. On 1st July 1916, the First Day on the Somme, the Grimsby Chums were in the first wave attacking the fortified village of La Boisselle, just south of the Albert-Bapaume road.
Fred had a reputation for being very cool headed, his officer remembering him sitting reading The Daily Telegraph while they were under a particularly heavy bombardment. Fred’s friend Sergt Alfred Noake wrote to Fred’s family about the day. “We attacked soon after dawn, and the men of the battalion gave a cheer as received the order to advance. I went over not far away from Fred but after a time I lost sight of him. We advanced in the face of terrible machine gun, rifle and shell fire and it is a great wonder I am living to tell the tale. I can assure you it as terrible to see the poor old boys falling right and left. We had to get on as no one as allowed to stop with wounded. In a very short time we had lost nearly all our officers and NCOs and we that were left had to carry on with the work. when we got into the German second line there was about 30 of our company left, including one officer and myself. After a while word was sent to us that we had to go over again and bomb out some Germans who were enfilading us with machine gun fire on our left. We went over again, but only a corporal, four men and myself got there. I left the officer lying in a shell hole with a bullet in his stomach and he told me to carry on. When we got into the next line I immediately gave the order for the men to dig themselves in. We consolidated the position and held it for three days for which I was awarded the Military Medal. A few days later I found out from the burying party that Fred had been shot in the head and died instantly. “
Despite Fred’s body being found by the burying party, after the war his body was not found and Sergt Frederick William Ashton is remembered on The Thiepval Memorial Somme France.