RFA West Lancs Bdes
680915 Dvr Frederick Duerden MM, R.F.A.
Frederick Duerden was born on 9 November 1884 in Longridge. His father was William Henry Duerden (b. 1858 in Longridge), an overlooker in a cotton mill. His mother was Margaret Halsall (B. 1858 in Longridge). William and Margaret were married in 1878 and they had four children, though one died young. Their three surviving boys were Harry (b. 1881), Fred, then William (Bill) (b. 1894). In 1911, the family lived at 41 Mersey Street, Longridge. Fred and Bill were both cotton weavers.
There were nearly ten years between Fred and Bill but they both joined the artillery at the same time, probably May 1915. They joined the Territorials and were given service numbers 2617 (Fred) and 2621 (Bill). In fact, about 100 men, mainly from the Longridge area, all signed up at the same time and their names follow in alphabetical order in the service number list. In 1917, Fred’s number became 680915 and Bill’s was 680919. They both served in “B” Battery of 286 Brigade, though they had slightly different roles: Fred was a Driver and Bill was a Gunner (and later promoted to Lance Bombardier).
So the boys served together in France and Flanders throughout the War – at Armentières and Passchendaele in 1917, and during the German Spring Offensive and the final push in Artois in 1918. The announcement of Fred’s Military Medal was made in the London Gazette in November 1919, a full year after the end of the War. I don’t have any information regarding the action for which the award was made but presumably it was right at the end of the War.
Both Fred and Bill came home after the War but Fred did not live long: he died in 1921. Bill returned to Longridge and worked as a foreman in a cotton mill warehouse. In 1924, he married Gladys Pinder (b. 1896 in Longridge) and in 1928, they had a son, whom they named Fred. Bill died in 1957.