Fred Whitaker was born in 1890 in Idle the son of John Arthur and Mary Jane, nee Bland.After a spell in Gomersal, by 1911 the family had returned to Idle to live at No. 11 Town Lane. Fred, at 20 years of age, was working as a worsted twister. He was also the organist at the Unitarian Church in Idle. When he enlisted the family were living at 40 Tower Street, Undercliffe. He enlisted on the 15th of September 1916, unit and number
not known but at some point he joined the Royal Engineers in the Inland Water Transport Section and after March 1918 the transportation troops were given a new number and Fred became Sapper WR/553051 serving in Mesopotamia (Iraq). In the summer of 1916 all non-transport work in Mesopotamia became a part of the Inland Water Transport Directorate’s responsibilities, and during 1917 its scope was extended to cover Inland
Water Transport and Dock Working in Egypt, in Salonika, and in other theatres of war. In Mesopotamia the land is for the most part desert and very flat. There were no roads so all transport had to be by boat along the rivers. Fred was still working in Mesopotamia on the rivers in 1919 when he contracted malaria and died on the 30th of May. He was 28 years of age.He is buried in the Basra War Cemetery in Iraq. The graveyard
has been left without a single one of its 4000 headstones still standing after the fall of Saddam Hussain and after the withdrawal of British Troops from the city in 2007 it was too dangerous for the Common-wealth War Graves Commission to send teams to repair the damage.He left his effects to his father John Arthur who received £15.10.0d on the 5th December 1919 and a claim of £8.0.0d on the 3rd March 1920.
Researched and written by Jean Britteon, to whom many thanks