Abraham Fearn was born in Darley near Matlock on 21st June 1894, his mother was Mary Ann Fearn and he had an older brother George born in 1890.
By 1901 the family had moved and were living at Shaw Street Whittington Moor and Abrahams mother is now listed as a widow. Abraham and George have now been joined by a younger sister Elizabeth born in 1897.
The next record for Abraham is the school log for Whittington Moor Endowed School, School (later renamed Peter Websters and Whittington Moor Council School) where Abraham was admitted on 5th January 1903. The family had moved by this time and were living at 59 Duke Street Whittington Moor. The Admission book shows that Abraham left the school on 17th November 1905, reason given ‘left the district’.
By 1911 the family have moved again and are now living at 25 Devonshire Street Newbold Moor. Abraham is 17 years old and his occupation is given as ‘labourer – colliery below’. There is no indication as to which colliery he worked at.
Abraham enlisted on 10th November 1914, and joined the 10th Battalion Notts and Derbyshire regiment, his Service number was 18837, he arrived in France on the 12th August 1915.
(Abraham may have enlisted originally in the 13th Battalion but must have been transferred very early on into the 10th Battalion as the medal roll only lists him as being in the 10th Battalion. From the date of his arrival in France it is more likely he went overseas with the 10th Battalion).
The 10th (service) Battalion was formed at Derby in September 1914 as part of Kitchener’s Second New Army. They came under orders of 51st Brigade in 17th (Northern) Division. They moved to Wool and on to West Lulworth in October 1914. Main embarkation began on 12 July and units moved to concentrate near St Omer. During 1915 the Division spent most of its time in trench familiarisation and then holding the front lines in the Southern area of the Ypres Salient.
Map of Ypres Salient https://en.wikipedia.org
However, things were to change early in 1916. The War Diaries of the 10th Sherwoods for 13th-14th February 1916 describe how on the 13th the Battalion marched up to the trenches north of the Canal South East of Ypres to relieve the 7th Lincolnshire regiment. On 14th there was heavy shelling from the enemy and the battalion suffered heavy casualties.
The 10th had three officers killed, a number wounded, 23 other ranks killed, 163 missing, 148 wounded, including 31 men who remained on duty whilst injured.
Abraham Fearn was wounded on 14th February 1916. He lost his leg and foot and sustained other injuries. He would have been initially dealt with at a Casualty Clearing Station and was sent back to Woolwich War Hospital in London.
There were two hospitals in Woolwich used in WW1 as War hospitals, the Royal Herbert and the Brook War Hospital unfortunately there is no information available on-line as to which hospital Abraham was taken to.
Abraham spent quite some time in the hospital but sadly he died of his wounds on 8th May 1916 he was 21 years old. His body was returned to Chesterfield for burial, and he was buried in Newbold St John Churchyard.
The grave report below gives details of where Abraham’ grave can be found in Newbold Churchyard along with the other war graves that are there too.
(Picture Linda Bell)
A newspaper report in the Derbyshire Times 20th May 1916 describes Abraham’s funeral.
“SOLDIERS FUNERAL AT NEWBOLD MOOR”
Upwards of three thousand people gathered on Saturday to show how the nation honours the men who have sacrificed their lives at the call of country. The occasion was the funeral of Private A Fearn, who was wounded in the severe fighting in France on the 14th February, losing his leg and foot and other injuries. He was brought to England, but succumbed on May 8th in the Military Hospital at Woolwich. Private Fearn enlisted on the10th November 1914 in the 10th Battalion Notts and Derbys., and went to the front early in 1915. The funeral took place from his home in Mountcastle Street, Newbold Moor. The Salvation Army Band was present and played the “Dead March “ is “Saul” while a detachment of the Home Guards, under the command of Mr E D Swanwick and Mr W Frost, lent a military character to the proceedings. Several wounded soldiers who are at home in the district also took part in the procession”.
There was then a list of the mourners and the full excerpt can be read below. The address given for Abraham is Mountcastle Street, but a few months later Mrs Fearn was definitely living at Newbridge Street in Old Whittington, either Abraham was living separately from his family or his mother moved shortly after he died.
Abraham was awarded the Victory and British war Medals along with the 14/15 Star Medal.
Abraham Fearn is remembered on several War Memorials, Newbold War Memorial, Old Whittington and the Brushes Memorials. He is mentioned in the “Tribute to the Fallen” in the Derbyshire Times 30th October 1920, written at the time of the unveiling of Newbold War Memorial. He is also mentioned amongst the “Honoured Names” in the Derbyshire Courier 17th September 1921, which represents the men who are honoured by the cross erected at Whittington Moor.
Sadly for the Fearn family on 31st July 1916 George, Abrahams older brother, was killed in France, his story can be read at
Derbyshire Times 20th May 1916