Fred Haughton: The next chapter

When I first wrote the blog about Fred Haughton, I never considered the possibility that I will get to know so much more about him after I’d finished writing it. I was happy with what I had written and I was happy to let the whole world know about Mr Haughton and how much of a hero he was during WWII.

If you haven’t read my original blog then please do read that blog which you can find here,

Some weeks ago I received a message from Mr Haughton’s son, Charles Frederick Haughton, who has always been referred to as Fred, explaining that he was Fred Haughton’s son who had been to Buckingham Palace with his father to receive his Distinguished Service Medal.

Fred told me a lot more about his father, much more than I could have ever found out without his input.

Fred was generous enough to provide me with many different things such as a wedding picture of his mother and father back in 1925.

Fred Haughton Wedding
Photograph courtesy of Charles Frederick Haughton.

Fred Haughton, whilst on leave in 1924, walked into the Lord Nelson public house on Derby Street Bolton and met Doris Ann Lee, the landlady’s daughter, who would become Fred’s wife. They were married on 15 August 1925 at Emmanuel Church Cannon Street Bolton.

They were married until Fred Haughton’s death in 1978.

Fred was also kind enough to send me his father’s naval records which show that he served on 11 different Royal Navy ships. In 1920 he joined the Navy on board the HMS Vivid 3 and left the navy on board HMS Rodney.

Fred served in every major campaign the Royal Navy undertook in WWII, ranging from The Atlantic to the D Day Landings.

Fred (Charles) told me a little more about his father’s role within the navy and about how much of a highly skilled job he had, considering he was only educated up to the age of 11.

His role included repairs and maintenance to  enormous and heavy pieces of equipment which included to the 15” and 16” guns which were onboard the major vessels that Fred served with.

He would have had to repairs these guns whilst the ships were docked and also during a naval battle.

Whilst Mr Haughton was repairing the Prince of Wales he was offered a job by one of the largest engineering companies of that time, Vickers Armstrong. Once he had completed the work with Vickers Armstrong on the Prince of Wales he was officially taken on board as a crew member with the ship. On leaving his temporary work with Vickers he was given a commemorative box of tools  for his work.

Charles informed me during our lengthy phone call that after his father received his Distinguished Service Medal, and on leaving Buckingham Palace, the news reporters were asking his father lots of questions. Frederick had nothing to say other than what was discussed between him and the King was going to remain private.

Charles informed me that on board the Prince of Wales was also the King’s cousin who died when the ship went down. Some may say that this is why he had such compassion on the people who had survived the original sinking.

One thing Charles did say was that the original newspaper article with Mr Haughton’s Horwich record card states that he lived at Cobham Avenue, I guess the newspaper writer didn’t do enough research. The news reporter probably assumed that Fred lived there because his family lived there. This was not correct.

Even though the war ended in 1945, the effects of the war went on for many years. Fred Haughton was unlucky enough to be troubled by the war even a year after it ended. Charles told me that his father was complaining of an eye problem and with Fred not being one to visit his local G.P. he went and saw a private eye surgeon. On his way home from the surgeon he collapsed and was off work for a couple of months. The doctor’s diagnosis was a nervous breakdown due to his war experience. All the years of fighting in the Second World War had eventually affected Mr Haughton.

There are a lot of people who didn’t speak of their experiences in the Second World War, and they chose to keep those memories to themselves. Charles told me of the two times his father had ever spoken to him of his experiences in the Second World War. These stories are ones of courage in the face of hardship, and also stories that are only ever depicted in very graphic war films such as Pearl Harbour and Saving Private Ryan. It’s not surprising that they affected him such as they did.

So after the war Fred Haughton, went back to work at the Horwich Loco Works as a charge hand. Like many heroes of the Second World War, his history faded away like nothing had ever happened. It has been an honour to be able to make Fred Haughton’s story come alive again.

Fred Haughton War Hero
1900 – 1978