Frederick Arthur Dunkling

Frederick Arthur Dunkling

Born in 1889, Frederick was the eldest of four sons and two daughters born to Arthur, and Sarah Ann (née Noble). Frederick was born at 16 Green Street, St Ives. At that time his father was a bricklayer's labourer. By 1901 the growing family had moved to Kings Yard, St Ives. Frederick was employed at Fuller and Sons in St Ives as a coach painter in 1911.

In 1912 Frederick married Ethel Parfitt. Two children quickly followed, Stanley in 1913 and Freda in 1915. In 1913 Frederick was a member of the Territorials, recorded with mediocre sharpshooting results in the Hunts Post of 18 April 1913. At a recruiting meeting in St Ives reported on 8 January 1915 he signed up along with fifteen other men from the town.

Frederick served in the 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment, and experienced some of the heaviest fighting of WWI. He survived several phases of the Battle of the Somme, one of the bloodies battles in human history with more than a million men wounded or killed. The ground, sodden with rain and broken up everywhere by innumerable shell holes, was a morass of mud, almost bottomless in places.

The Somme battlefield
The Somme battlefield, a morass of mud
The last of the Somme engagements was the Battle of Transloy in October 1916. On the morning of Thursday 12 October 1916 the situation was so dangerous that Lt Col H S Poyntz was injured whilst explaining the plan of action for the day to Company Commanders.

The attack was to commence at 2pm. At 11am two German officers and about fifty men appeared without arms and made signs of surrender. They hesitated to come over to the British trenches for fear of being shot. Lt. Fyson went out and spoke to one of the German officers. Having got back into his trench, someone fired a shot at the German and the chance of surrender and the saving of many lives, including Frederick's life, was lost.

The attack started on schedule in the afternoon. By the evening the Battalion had already suffered heavy casualties, including the death of Lt. Fyson. Having gained up to 200 yards of ground, the British soldiers were dug in only fifty yards from the German defenders and under heavy enfilade fire.  Part of the Battalion was isolated and several runners were either wounded or killed.

It was during the evening's engagement that Frederick was wounded. Bandaged by his Corporal and moved under cover, he died about thirty minutes later aged 26yrs. Frederick's death was reported on 3 November 1916. His parents inserted a memorial in the Hunts Post of 11 October 1918. He has no known grave and is commemorated at Thiepval Monument, Somme, France.

Two of Frederick's brothers also fought in the war. On 8 March 1918 George was reported suffering from severe trench fever and Arthur was home on leave from the Front. George was again reported hospitalised on 4 October 1918.

Arthur, George & Fred Dunkling
Arthur, George & Frederick Dunkling
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Source materials
Click any of the links below to view original source materials.
War diary for 12 October 1916, 2nd Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment

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