Photograph of Frank in Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre. Reference: MRP/6D/010
(L to R) Military Cross and Bar; 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal; 1939-45 Star; France and Germany Star; 1939-45 Defence Medal; 1939-45 War Medal
Frank was born between April and June 1893 in Ashton-under-Lyne, which was then in Lancashire. His father was called Fred and his mother was Susan Mary. He was their youngest child; Lucy, Amy and Arthur were his siblings.
In 1901 the family lived at 10 Norris Back Terrace in Heaton Norris, part of Stockport in Cheshire. Fred was self employed as a nurseryman, growing and selling plants from their home. Ten years later he worked for a company involved in this trade, and he was a foreman. His children had all found work; Frank was a cutter's apprentice for a wholesale clothing firm. In April 1911 the family lived at 157 Chapel Street in Edgeley, Stockport.
Later that year Frank left home. He had decided to join the Army and enlisted in the 6th Dragoon Guards (The Carabiniers). This was a Cavalry Regiment so Frank will have been taught to ride if he couldn't already. He was given the service number D-6329. They served in Canterbury, Kent from 1912 until the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914.
Although the 6th Dragoon Guards crossed to France later in August, Frank did not join them until the 27th December. We don't know why. They served at the Battle of Neuve Chappelle in March 1915 and at the Second Battle of Ypres during April and May. They played a small part in the Somme Offensive fought between July and November 1916. In April 1917 they were involved in the Battle of Arras.
The conditions on the Western Front meant that cavalrymen like Frank had very little opportunity to carry out traditional mounted roles such as scouting or fast advances. Instead they often fought dismounted. They held sections of trench and took part in raids just like the infantry. During large attacks cavalry regiments were often held in reserve in case the infantry broke through the German lines.
At some point Frank was selected to be trained as an officer. He was commissioned into the Manchester Regiment as a Second Lieutenant on the 30th January 1918. Frank joined the 2nd Battalion at Barly on the 26th April. The Manchester Regiment was an infantry unit.
The Allies launched a large attack on the 8th August. This was very successful and they began to advance rapidly. During what would become known as the Hundred Days Offensive Frank carried out 2 acts of bravery that were recognised with the award of the Military Cross. We don't know exactly when or where the 2 acts took place.
Frank's Military Cross was published in the London Gazette on the 8th November 1918. This is his citation:
For conspicuous gallantry and ability during an attack. He led his platoon with great skill and determination and also led a fighting patrol into a village and returned with invaluable information with regard to the dispositions of the enemy, which was a direct means of protecting the exposed left flanks of the most advanced line reached in the day's fighting.
Frank received the Bar to his Military Cross on the 11th January 1919, for this act:
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. This officer was most energetic in clearing a wood of machine gun nests, which threatened the flanks of the battalion. Later, when the advance of 2 companies was checked, he led a section forward, charging a cement emplacement, killing 2 of the enemy and taking the remainder prisoners.
The 2nd Battalion's last action was on the 6th November, and the war came to an end on the 11th. They then moved to Bonn in Germany as part of the British Army of Occupation. Most of the soldiers who had served during the war were returned back to civilian life in early 1919 and by early April the 2nd Battalion had been reduced to just over 80 soldiers, known as a cadre. Frank was a member of this cadre, which returned to the UK on the 8th April under the command of Charles Stapledon. His medals are also in the Museum of the Manchester Regiment collection.
Frank was promoted to Lieutenant on the 30th July 1919. The 2nd Battalion moved to Tipperary in Ireland that November, but we don't know whether Frank went with them. He left the Army on the 7th April 1920 and was granted the honorary rank of Captain.
We don't know much about Frank's life during the 1920s and 30s. In the early 1920s he lived at 289 Waterloo Road in Hightown, Manchester. By 1927 he had returned to Stockport to live at 23 Peter Street in Hazel Grove. He later moved to 4 Belgrave Crescent in the town.
We believe Frank served with the 6th Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment, a Territorial Army unit based in Stockport, during this period. They were converted to a Royal Artillery unit in the early 1920s. Frank also joined the Manchester Regiment Old Comrade's Association (OCA) in the mid 1920s. This meant he was able to keep in touch with men he had served with. He attended several annual reunions before the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939.
Frank had remained a member of the Royal Army Reserve of Officers so he was recalled to the Army after war was declared. We know very little about where he served (he spent time at the Manchester Regiment Depot in Ashton and at Dunham Park in Altrincham) and nothing about what he did. He was transferred from the Manchester Regiment to the Loyal Regiment (North Lancashire) on the 22nd July 1940, and then to the Pioneer Corps on the 16th October 1941. Frank reached the age limit and was discharged on the 29th August 1945. He was granted the honorary rank of Major.
Pioneers carried out a wide variety of tasks. They handled stores, constructed roads, bridges and airfields and helped to move the wounded and bury the dead. Frank served with a Pioneer unit in North West Europe at some point between the D-Day invasion on the 6th June 1944 and VE-Day on the 7th May 1945.
After he left the Army Frank again returned to Stockport, and 4 Belgrave Crescent. He would live there for the rest of his life. He continued to attend reunions, and kept his close friend James Barratt in touch with the regiment. James and Frank had been officers together in 1918. James had retired to Birmingham, and was only able to attend 3 reunions before he died in 1951. Frank made it possible for James to attend these.
We believe Frank was married, although we don't know his wife's name or whether they had any children.
In later life Frank became ill. He eventually had to go and live at Fernlea Nursing Home in Heaton Moor, Stockport, and he died there on the 13th February 1963. He was 69 years old. The 'courage and cheerfulness' he had shown during the war were 'maintained when stricken with his fatal illness'. His friends remembered that 'Frank always seemed to have a perpetual smile and radiate 'bonhomie''. His funeral was held at Stockport Crematorium, and his medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in May 1963.