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Remembered Today:

Gunner Fred Butcher(s)


T8HANTS
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I have a local Isle of Wight press report of a Gunner Fred Butchers who was the last man surviving in his battery, and continued to serve his gun though wounded, until he was ordered to retire. The action was said to have taken place about the 24th of August. Although not reported I have also been told that the heroic deed was the subject of a painting that became very popular at the time in print form. As Fred was killed almost exactly a month later around about the 24th September, little extra is known about him.

Can anybody confirm the story, and perhaps give Freds Battery, or post a copy of the print.

Gareth

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This is one, not of your man, but Bombardier J.I. Nelson, DCM, 4th Highland Mountain Brigade, RGA (TF). It's a print that was done during the war and is entitled "Bombardier Nelson working a field-gun Single Handed and under Heavy Fire", depicting the actions on 6th August at Suvla Bay that won him the DCM. I believe it was from a series that was printed during the war depicting various DCM's.

That's not to say there wasn't another one of Gnr. Butchers, but this is one that depicts the lone gunner servicing the piece.

Mike Morrison

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The Last Shell and Man

Yet, as the day went on, the trenched line was wearing thin. The awful tempest of artillery fire was eating the heart out of the defence. Slowly but surely as the evening drew near the British batteries were silenced. They fought in the artillery's way to the last shell and the last man. One half battery drew the attention of the German guns by the accuracy of its fire. Several batteries combined to crush it out of existence. It was a fight between a David and half a dozen Goliaths. One by one the guns were silenced as the men serving them were killed. At last one man, Driver Butcher, was left. He went on working, doing his best steadily and calmly. He was ready to fight the whole massed force of German artillery by himself, and it was only with reluctance that he retired when an officer called him off. The calmness was not his alone. The whole of the superb corps was imbued with it. When another battery was put out of action, an officer, apparently oblivious of the torrent of shell bursting about him, walked from gun to gun, making each useless. At another point, rather than lose their guns, two drivers took their horses through a storm of shell, limbered up, and brought them away safely.

There was no date given for this action in the article, but as it was during the retreat from Mons, 24/8/14 seems reasonable.

Taken from

http://www.greatwardifferent.com/

Neil

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68287 Fred Butcher, Driver and Gunner, DOD 15/09/14, 60th Battery, 44th Brigade RFA (XLIV), (from Brighton a howitzer Brigade so ties in nicely with Isle of Wight). There is a war diary for the 60th at the NA under WO95/5077 but only runs from Dec 1915, the Brigade one WO95/1327 however also exists from August 1914, which is a rare occurrence for an RFA battery, so you might just be lucky and get a mention. Strangely there doesn’t seem to be a gallantry medal card for him in the MIC’s, but his standard MIC might show otherwise.

Regards

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Thanks guys

Perhaps I misunderstood illustrated to mean a picture representation, rather than written up in an "Illustrated" magazine.

Gareth

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  • 7 years later...

Thats interesting, the only copy of the illustration I ever found was this sepia postcard. I wonder if this is a case of the local paper getting things in a muddle at the time.

Gareth

post-890-0-51195600-1393770532_thumb.jpg

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