9 January 1915 the Oldham Chronicle published a supplement entitled ‘Our Local Heroes’. Inside were contained portraits of soldiers and sailors of the Oldham District who had been killed, and those who had gained distinction on the battlefield, which had appeared in the Oldham Daily and Weekly Chronicle up to 26 December 1914.
Private Reuben Fielding of the 1st Manchester Regiment serving in France received his copy less than a week later, writing to his brother at 124 Waterloo Street, Oldham:
‘I have received your welcome paper, and I was very pleased with the supplement. I think that every man in the regiment had seen it. It is something new for us to see, and we know some of the men, who were in our own regiment. I am glad to say that we keep in the best of health and spirits. We keep having plenty of rain yet, and I can tell you it makes things very miserable for us. We expect going back in the trenches any day now, and I think we will give a good account of ourselves again. I should think that they will have made the Chums’ Battalion up in Oldham by now.’
OC 18 Jan 1915
Reuben Fielding was called up as a reservist at the beginning of the war and went through many battles in France and Belgium along with the Indian contingent. He was later transferred to the Middle East where he died of disease on 10 May 1916, his 33rd birthday, leaving a widow and three children, who lived at 14 Portland Street. Before the war he had been employed by Asa Lees and Co for six years.
In all fourteen supplements were published, the last appearing on 23 December 1916. Reuben Fielding’s portrait appeared in the 13th supplement published on 28 October 1916.
He is remembered on the Basra War Memorial.
Sources: Oldham Chronicle