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                            THE PAPER TRAIL OF A SOLDIER OF THE GREAT WAR.

Isaac Wren entered this world at 86 Bolton Street. Workington, on 25th April 1898. the son of John Fisher Wren and Hannah, formerly Dockray. His father was a furnaceman at the Workington Iron Works. Isaac was christened on July 3rd of the same year at St Michael’s Church. Workington.
The life of a furnaceman was not fulfilling for John Wren, and in 1900 he attested as a Constable in the Cumberland & Westmorland Police Force. And so began the life of a Policeman’s son for Isaac, and the move every few years to another Station. A number of years were spent at Ennerdale, where they remained long enough to have three children born. Isaac attended the Ennerdale school and was apparently very popular. His name does not appear in the school Punishment Book. If it had, his father would have had something to say about it!
He must have inherited his father’s love of nature, as he won First Prize in the boys (under nine) for the best bouquet of wild and garden flowers, at Ennerdale Flower Show, in 1905.
A few years were then spent at Eskdale. A place that Isaac did not like, as evidenced by his letter to his aunt Maggie in 1915! I suppose it was too remote and not exciting enough for a youth on the verge of manhood.
In 1913 the family moved to Millom. Isaac obtained work as a clerk in the offices of the Carlisle Building Society. A clean, nicely paid job, but maybe a little humdrum for our Isaac! August 1914 brought the start of the Great War. He was still only 16 then but being fairly tall, and probably looking older than he was, he was confronted by friends and neighbours saying Are you not going to sign up, a big lad like you ! ” Then one day at home, probably in a fit of pique at some rebuke or other. he kicked the back door of the house and said he was going to sign up. He added at least two years onto his age, went to the Drill Hall at Millom and enlisted into the Army. He was initially placed in the Hussars, no. 30212. hut quickly re-assigned to the 8th Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment, no. 17178. His Army training was carried out at Halton Park, Tring, Herts. The 21 st (Yorkshire) Division were the initial occupants. the senior formation of Kitchener’s Third

 New Army. They trained there from September 1914 to August 1915, when they went to Aldershot. Isaac had had training on operating the Machine Gun, most likely a Vickers. He had joined the Machine Gun Section of the Battalion, the Machine Gun Corps not yet being formed. This training had most likely been carried out at Belton Park, Grantham. He wore a proficiency badge on his left forearm.
At 1.1 pm on the 9th September 1915 the Battalion embarked for France, disembarking at Boulogne. From then until the 25th began a series of long marches, different billets and bivouacs, and continued training. On 25th September they reached Loos-en-­Gohelle, a small town in a mining area of French Flanders. A “big push” had been planned.
The 62nd Brigade War Diary records that the 21st Division was then attached to the 15th (Scottish) Division and that the 8/East Yorkshire Regiment was to head the 21 Division as it went into battle.

The Battalion War Diary records  “ . . . . .at 3pm launched the attack at the enemy from the BETHUNE - LENS Road. The direction was for Hill 70, through Loos and over the slack heaps.....
The enemy was well prepared however and the Battalion War Diary records that machine gun tire from Chalk Pit Copse made life very difficult. “  shells of all classes were falling very thick around  the shelling was incessant    Also that rain was falling throughout the engagement . 

During the night a desperate message was sent back up the line. Enemy shelling pylons and a good number of machine guns and snipers are worrying us,   unless Artillery help us we shall suffer from heavy gunfire. Can our Artillery engage enemy ‘s Artillery and keep down fire,  have not enough men to hold position if attacked at daylight...

And so Isaac Wren came to depart this world on the Loos Battlefield, 26th September 1915. His body, like thousands of others, was never found.

His name is recorded among the names of the missing on the Loos Memorial at Dud Corner Cemetery.

      LOOS TODAY,  STILL DOMINATED BY THE SLACK HEAPS




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