HOYLE Frederick

Frederick HOYLE

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Frederick Hoyle. Photo Halifax Guardian

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ST. SEVER CEMETERY, ROUEN

Frederick was the youngest of William Henry and Elizabeth Hoyle’s eight children (6 boys and 2 girls).  William Henry was a Professor of Music and the census shows that the family moved around between Northamptonshire and Yorkshire. In 1911 the family lived at 126 Holgate Place, West End, Queensbury.  Frederick was then aged 14 and attended Salt’s Grammar school.

The Halifax Courier, 27th April 1918 reports the death of Frederick and gave details of his military service:

“Second Lieutenant F H Hoyle, West Yorkshire Regiment of West End, Queensbury died from a wound in the head, a large piece of shrapnel which had penetrated his brain was successfully removed and hopes were entertained of his recovery, but last week gangrene was discovered in his system and he passed away as stated. He was aged 21.

Joining the 1st Battalion, Bradford pals as a private at 17 years of age he served with that unit in Egypt and France, he was severely wounded in the Somme battle of 1st July 1916.

He is the second member of the family to be killed, his eldest brother J Hoyle, Artists Rifles having made the great sacrifice on April 5th. There are two other brothers serving.”

On 6th April the Courier had reported that Frederick had been admitted to hospital and was dangerously ill with a gunshot wound (shrapnel was included in gunshot wound) to the head.  The article also informs us that he had received his commission in March 1917.

Frederick had been a choir boy at Holy Trinity and in May 1916 he wrote a letter to councilor Midgley which was read out in church, the letter appears in Courier dated 27th May 1916 and can be read below.

Frederick Hoyle of the 2nd Battalion. West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Own) died of wounds on 20th April 1918, he is buried at ST. SEVER CEMETERY, ROUEN (Officers, B. 6. 18).  The inscription on his grave reads: “Whiter thou goest, I will go, thy people shall be my people, thy god my god”.

LOCAL WARRIOR STORIES (letter to Courier 27th May 1916)

FIXING BARBED WIRE. SOLDIER’S PICTURE OF “NO MAN’S LAND.” One of the most graphic letters written from the front, giving pictures of never to be forgotten experiences, fixing barbed wire out in No Man’s Land, between the front-line trenches, was read at the Queensbury Church gathering on Saturday.

Private Fred Hoyle, Prospect-place, Queensbury, a member of the choir, out with the Bradford “Pals” sent the letter, and Councillor W. H. Midgley, who read it, spoke of it as a model. The extracts given are but a small part of a narrative; It must not be inferred that the writer is downhearted. He confesses otherwise, but says he wants to let people know exactly how things are.

He writes: ”In this stretch you do only four days in the front line instead of, I believe, the usual eight. You wander in sometimes by night, through seemingly endless communication trenches, winding in and out, falling on the “corduroy” (the herring-bone like woodwork with which some of the trenches are lined) or tripping up, whispering fiercely when you wish to say anything, for if the enemy get to know you are relieving, you are in for it. There are frequent stoppages and much ducking involuntary as the German flares go up well in front. Just when you have about, given up all hope, you stop in front of a little hole hung with sacking, through which a candle shows. You wonder idly what it is about, and then you are told that you have to do two days here in the reserves, and that the little hole is the entrance to your dug-out, what piffle! Fancy anyone living behind there.

Anyway, you lead in after tying yourself into a knot, and settle down in your home for a couple of days. It is a long narrow place dug out of the chalk, perhaps 100 feet long, but only about four high. The roof is protected as well as supported by rough tree trunks worn smooth with the frequent rubbing, passing to and fro. You have no blanket or anything of that kind, but you try and settle down. You might as well try and fly, as the rats run over you quite unconcernedly, and it is very cold. Someone digs up an old brazier and half a sack of coke with which a fire is started a mixed blessing for the smoke has no outlet, however its warmer. The whole thing reminds you of Dante’s Inferno as you look down through the fearful smoke at the line of figures just visible by the light of one or two candles which burn yellow and ghostly.

At three o’clock in the morning you are all bundled out to “stand to.” Standing to consists of standing on the firing step until day breaks. It is cold, and the rain starts. You stamp your feet in the slime and shake yourself to try and keep warm as you look out unto the breaking dawn. The time seems interminable, and you wonder if home is not some ridiculous dream. Meanwhile you heap maledictions on the heads of “Fritz” and all his tribe. There is an end to all things, however, and the order comes “Stand down.”

You climb stiffly down and clean out your rifle with half-frozen fingers, after which you receive your tot of rum. Things begin to brighten!! You draw rations in sandbags, get the brazier going, and make a very decent meal with bacon, biscuits, and hot tea. All day you go out with parties mending the trench sides here and there, baling water out, etc, you are warned for a “wiring party” that night.

After a fearful wait the order is given, and the first man leads over the parapet. Over the parapet you scramble, and then down you go! A shell hole full of water looms in front of you. You side step gracefully, and then fall full length into another one. No matter though, you cannot get any more wet. Suddenly there is a little “pop,” and something like a rocket flies up into the air from the German lines, bursting into brilliant flames as it travels. Down you go all in a heap, in a shell hole, on the barbed wire, anywhere so long as you get down. You and your next door neighbour lie in a puddle with your noses just showing out of the mud, your faces just a few inches apart. Your eyes meet, and suddenly you feel as though you must get up and roar, with laughter, such a wealth of meaning is contained, in that face! Perhaps-four seconds and the flame dies out, you struggle to your feet and then off another goes. Those German beggars seem to know that something is afoot and for half an hour the sky is never dark. Occasionally a machine gun rattles spitefully, and you think you are seen. But no! It is not aimed at you; After a while the Huns seem to get more settled and satisfy themselves with just sending one up occasionally.

The wire is reached at last, and you set to work on your own roll. It is caught somehow and refuses to come undone then you are treated to such a flow of language, aimed at Fritz in general that you are immediately comforted. The wire is at last cut loose, and you begin. Clothing is of no importance, in the morning sundry rags will be seen in the breeze corresponding in shape to some holes in your trousers, etc. The gloves what are left of them are no good and your hands get badly lacerated, but you are too cold to feel the cuts, afterwards the dirt will get in and the places will fester. For a couple of hours, you work steadily away, until the wire is done, plenty of grousing when you fall into shell holes etc, no excitement, and certainly no fear. You are not in a condition to be frightened, you are obsessed with one object, and that is getting out of the unceasing rain. At last the job is finished. You gather your tools up, grope your way back to the trench, and start on your weary return journey.

The dug out is at last reached, and you lie in your wet things until 3 o’clock when you put on your great coat (the last dry stitch you have) and go out to stand to. Strange to say, no ill effects are felt, no colds or anything. You get accustomed to going through the mud and never feel your wet legs and feet. Everyone else but our Company has got a pair of rubber trench waders reaching up to the thighs. Someone has blundered, and you have to suffer. The shrapnel helmets arrive at last, made of steel like nothing so much as a saucepan without handle, heavy, but still fine things.