Photograph and letters courtesy of Carolyn & Dane
Born: 17th April 1891, 15, Friars Bridge Road, Ipswich.
Died: 6th May 1917; age 26; KiA in the first Battle of Arras.
Enlistment Location: Ipswich; Date: 1914.
Date of Entry Therein: 1st June 1915 – France.
Rank: Sergeant; Service Number: 93841.
Regiment: Royal Field Artillery, ‘C’ Battery, 63rd Brigade.
Medals Awarded: Victory, British War & 1915 Star + Military Medal – For putting out a fire under a field gun before it could spread to ammunition. By risking his own life he saved the gun and the ammunition and potentially saved the lives of several comrades who could have been killed or wounded in any explosion.
Pas de Calais,
1901 146, Wherstead Road, Ipswich.
Wilfred was 9 years old and living with his mother, step father & step sisters.
William Frederick Hutchinson, 37, a Corn Merchant – Office Messenger, born Chelmsford, Essex.
Alice Mary Ann Hutchinson (nee Howard), 31, born Ipswich.
Dorothy Alice Hutchinson, 5, born Ipswich – died 1902, Ipswich.
Emma Elizabeth Hutchinson, 2, born Ipswich.
1911 5, Craig Court, Upper Orwell Street, Ipswich.
Wilfred was 19 years old, a Carman – Pickford Movers. He was married and Head of the Household.
Dorothy, 11 months.
On the 8th May 1910, Ipswich Register Office, Wilfred married, Rosa Chittock, born August 1890, Stowmarket, Suffolk.
They had 2 daughters:
Dorothy Rosa Howard, born April 1910, Ipswich.
Ruby M. Howard, born 1911, Ipswich – died 1913, Ipswich.
Soldiers’ Effects to Rosa Smith – widow.
April 25th 1917
Dear Mother and Father,
Just a few lines to let you know that I received your very nice letter and parcel for which I thank you very much. The parcel came in very handy I can tell you as we had been on biscuits for over a fortnight, so you can tell how we enjoyed the contents. I was glad to hear that you are all alright as it leaves me in the Pink at present. We are having very nice weather out here at present for which we are very thankful. I suppose you have read about our little bit of an advance. I don’t think we did so bad in a day or two do you? We are about four to five miles in front of where we were so I think we did a little bit of good. It was a grand sight to see the guns open out on that Monday morning and from where we were in position we could see the Barrage open out on Vimy Ridge. It was a very fine sight I can tell you and then as we advanced the Cavalry were cantering into action, it was a glorious sigh I can tell you. We saw the Calalry go over the Ridge to take Monchy, but they didn’t half get cut up. The Bosche put up a barrage of about twenty rounds per minute so you can tell what they went into and they still shell the place like the devil. There isn’t hardly a house left standing. Our Generals had some papers printed thanking us for what we had done. I have sent them home to Rosa and told her to show them to you and I think you will agree with me that we didn’t do so bad especially on such a strong part of the line as we are on. The Bosche must have spent months making dugouts, some of them are over forty feet down and are built of concrete and iron also in all his gun positions he has got trenches and dugouts and ammunition pits at least forty to fifty feet down. It is a marvellous sight to see them, still more marvellous to see how our heavys pasted them. There isn’t a square yard in places where there isn’t a shell hole. It knocks the Somme and Loos into a mere nothing. I think this is all I have to say at the present so I must now close with the best of love to all from your loving son,
P.S. Thank Emmie very much for her card.
This letter is typed exactly as written with exact number of kisses by my grandfather, Wilfred C. Howard to his parents. Two weeks later he was killed, May 6, 1917 the Battle of Arras, France
MEDAL PRESENTED TO SOLDIERS WIDOW
The Military Medal awarded to the late Acting Sergeant Wilfred C. Howard (of Ipswich), of the 63rd Brigade R.F.A. was presented to his widow Mrs. R. Howard by Brigadier-General D. Campbell at a parade of the 217th Infantry Brigade in Christchurch Park, Ipswich, on Friday.
The General after greeting Mrs. Howard and her little daughter, said: We have gathered together here today to honour a very brave and gallant soldier. His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to award the Military Medal to the late Sergeant Howard, R.F.A. for putting out a fire in his ammunition wagon under heavy shellfire. It was the fourth or fifth day of our advance, and the Huns shelled the battery pretty heavily. The first shell fell alongside the wagon (filled with ammunition), which was next to his gun, and the wagon was set on fire immediately. This would have probably ended in the gun and wagon being blown up, had not Sergeant Howard put it out. He did not worry, but went straight and put it out, while the Huns were shelling, for he was a very cool person under fire, and did not seem to know what danger was. I am sure (the General added) that you will all regret, as I do, the fact that Sergeant Howard has since been killed in action, and has not lived to wear his medal. It is my honour and privilege now to present it to his widow, Mrs. Howard, and to express our deep sympathy with her great loss, hoping that the fact that his Majesty has recognized her husband’s gallantry, and that he has had such a glorious death will be some consolation to her in the future. It is deeds like this that set the example which we should all follow – self sacrifice and devotion to duty, and I hope all you young soldiers who will shortly be called to take your place at the front will set before you the high standard Sergeant Howard put before him, and that his example will be an incentive to you all.
Brigadier-General Campbell was accompanied by Major Webber and Captain Lammie. The band of the Royal Fusilier played an appropriate selection after the presentation.
Newspaper article of Rosa & Dorothy taken at Christchurch Park c1917.
Wilfred is remembered on the war memorial at St. Mary Le Quay Church, Ipswich.