RFA West Lancs Bdes
681468 GNR. F. J. SLATER. R.F.A.
Frederick Johnson Slater was born on 3 December 1895 in Toxteth, Liverpool, and baptised on 12 January 1896. His father was Frederick Slater (b. 1868 in Liverpool), a cab driver. His mother was Isabella Mason (b. 1866 in Toxteth). Frederick snr and Isabella were married in 1890 and they had four children: George (b. 1891), Dorothy (b. 1894), then Fred jnr, and finally John (b. 1898). Isabella died in 1908. In 1911, Fred snr was living with his 3 sons at 87 South Street, Toxteth. Fred jnr was working as a clerk in a cotton broker’s.
Fred enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery in 1915 and around the same time he married Frances Louise (Fanny) Banks (b. 1891 in Liverpool). Fanny already had a daughter Margaret Louise (b. 1910), born out of wedlock, but Fred and Fanny then had a son, Frederick William (b. 1916). The couple lived at 19 Moses Street, Dingle, Liverpool.
Fred was assigned service number 681468 and posted to “D” Battery of 286 Brigade. D Bty was a howitzer battery. 286 Brigade landed in France in February 1917 and spent the spring and early summer in the defence of Armentières.
In June 1917, 286 Brigade were defending Armentières and the War Diary reports regular enemy bombardment of the town and the artillery batteries. 286Bde were engaged in wire-cutting and general harassment of the enemy, but suffered retaliation. On 11 June, the Diary records: “1 Other Rank D/286 wounded. A/286 Bde position heavily shelled with 5.9s. C/286 Bde 2 O/R killed in action, 14 O/R wounded. Wire-cutting. S.O.S. – Enemy succeeded in entering our front-line trench but did not get out again”. The following day, 12 June, there was a premature burst of a howitzer shell which caused an explosion and 4 men from “D” Battery were wounded. Fred may have been wounded in this accident or possibly in earlier action, on 8 or 11 June. He died of wounds at 54th Casualty Clearing Station on 14 June. He was 21 years old (though CWGC records his age as 23).
Service No: 681468
Date of Death: 14/06/1917
Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery, “D” Bty, 286 Bde.
Cemetery/memorial reference: I. B. 28.
Cemetery/Memorial: MERVILLE COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION
Additional Information: Husband of Frances L. Slater, of 19 Moses Street, Dingle, Liverpool.
Fred’s brother, George, served in the army during the War. He enlisted in the Manchester Regiment in October 1915 but was transferred to the Lincolnshire Regiment. He was 22614 LCPL. G. M. SLATER. George survived the War; he married in 1920, and died in Liverpool in 1964.