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Captain, 2nd Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps.

Died 12th July 1917, age 30.

Buried in Coxyde Military Cemetery, Belgium.

Former student of medicine.


 

Wilfred was born on 15th March 1888. He was the middle son of Henry Andrews Sneath, a Corn merchant, and Elizabeth Sneath of Bowthorpe Park near Manthorpe, Lincolnshire. A very intelligent youth he won a scholarship to Grantham Technical College and later went on to study medicine at Manchester University alongside his younger brother Alec in 1906, after winning a scholarship. He distinguished himself as a scholar graduating with 1st Class Honours, and gaining another scholarship and in 1911 becoming a Demonstrator in Anatomy at Manchester University. Harry Sneath, his older brother, recalled of him: “He was a marvellous fella. Oh, he read a book, he could repeat it almost from beginning to end. Had a marvellous memory. And, he never did any revision, and he passed everything he sat with Honours. Wonderful fella, he was.” In late 1913 he became a House Surgeon at Manchester Royal Infirmary before going into private practise in Ashton under Lyme.

On the outbreak of War in august 1914 Wilfred immediately enlisted and was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Royal Army Medical Corps. By November 1914 he was with the Army in France serving initially with 19th Field Hospital, Royal Army Medical Corps in Calais. In a letter to the Grantham Journal that month he wrote: “We have now settled down very well and have got about 120 beds opened. Later we hope to have 200. We are working very hard, and doing with very little sleep. Last night I did three operations. At present we have only one operating theatre, but we have equipment for two, and shall have another when we get a room suitable. It is rather heart breaking work here as we get the very worst cases, and many die within a few hours of admission. The number that we operate on is comparatively small, as  ordinary bullet wounds in chest and abdomen do better if left alone, but the shrapnel and shell wounds are awful, and how the nurses do their duty is a mystery. They are real heroines.”

In March 1915 Wilfred was attached to a Territorial Battalion, 6th Welsh Regiment, as their Medical Officer joining them in the trenches. In May 1915 he was mentioned in dispatches for bravery, and was promoted to Captain in September that year. In 1916 he was awarded the Military Cross for bravery, the citation of 22nd Septemeber 1916 read: “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during operations. He was out every night tending the wounded under fire. On one occasion he went out 200 yards in advance of our front line and dressed a wounded man under machine gun fire, afterwards bringing him in.”

On 10th July 1917 Wilfred had just returned the day before from home leave when, while inspecting the lines, he was caught in shell fire and seriously wounded. Evacuated he unfortunately died of his wounds in a Belgian hospital just behind the lines on 11th July 1917.