Fred Astley was born in 1895 in Royton to parents Roger and Ellen. The Astley's had lost three children in infancy and Fred was the oldest of the six who survived. The family lived at 6 Crompton Street through Fred's childhood although after his death his address was given in Varley's Royton Annual as being 8 Mellalieu Street. Fred was a member of the congregation of Royton Methodist Church on Oldham Road & worked with his father at the Grange Mill in Oldham. He was the cousin of William Astley.
Fred Astley is mentioned in the Oldham Chronicle of 4th November 1914 as having enlisted in Oldham with the King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment.He reached France for the first time on 4th September 1915.Before joining the 1st/5th Battalion he also spent time with both the 1st and 9th Battalions.
On the day of Fred's death the majority of the 1st/5th Battalion were in billets at Derby Camp, Poperinghe. D Company however were billeted in a more exposed position at a 'strong point'. A shell made a direct hit on D Company's HQ killing three men and injuring four. Two of those injured - including Fred Astley - died of their wounds on their way to the dressing station.
The four other men killed in the incident were:
Serjeant Frederick Eastwood,240154,from Blackpool
Company Quartermaster Serjeant Leonard Chase Harrison,240002,32 years old, from Lancaster.He was born in Coventry and left a widow and four children
Private Robert Leadbetter Martin,240438,22 years old,from Fleetwood
Private Joseph Slater,243065,21 years old,from Newton-in-Furness
A year after Fred's death the following appeared in the Oldham Chronicle:
In loving memory of our dear nephew,Private Fred Astley,K.O.R.L,who was killed in action on July 23rd,1917,in France.Too dearly loved to be forgotten.
Aunts & Uncles
143 High Barn Street & 147 Rochdale Road,Royton
Date of Death:23/07/1917
Regiment:King's Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment)
Cemetery:Vlamertinghe New Military Cemetery
Grave Ref:VIII. A. 3.