Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

Frank Quincey

Frank Quincey :

Frank Quincey : 1914-15 Star

1914-15 Star

Frank was born between July and September 1883 in Salford, Lancashire. His father was called William Edwin and his mother was Mary Jane. We don't know whether he had any brothers or sisters.

William worked as a moulder at an iron foundry. In 1891 the family lived with Joseph Pilling, his wife Frances Alice and their family at 12 Mary Street in the Ordsall area of Salford. Frances was Frank's aunt and William's sister. Frank's widowed grandmother Myra also lived with the Pillings.

Mary Jane died at some point over the next 10 years, but William, Frank and Myra still lived with the Pillings in 1901. They had moved to 8 Dawson Street in Pendleton, Salford. Frank had begun to work as a striker at a blacksmith's. It was his job to hammer metal into the correct shape for the item being made.

In 1909 or 1910 Frank married a woman named Sarah Alice. We don't know her last name. When the 1911 Census was taken they lived at 1-3 Back Kid Street in Middleton, Lancashire. They had a son, named Frank, who had been born in around August 1910. Frank senior was a cotton cloth dyer and Sarah worked as a cotton polisher.

The First World War broke out in August 1914 and Frank joined the Army on the 17th December. He chose to enlist in the Oldham Battalion of Comrades. This was a 'Pals' unit being formed by the men of Oldham so that they could serve together. It became the 24th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment and Frank was assigned to XI Platoon in C Company. His service number was 14766.

When Frank enlisted he was 5 feet 3 inches tall. He was working as a labourer and lived at 44 Chapel Street in Middleton. He named his aunt Francis as the 'person to be informed of casualties'. We don't know why he didn't name his wife.

The 24th Battalion began life at Chadderton Hall Farm near Oldham (in 2013 a park). In early March 1915 the battalion moved to Llanfairfechan between Conwy and Bangor on the North Wales coast, and then moved again to Grantham, Lincolnshire 2 months later. They stayed there until September and then moved one last time to Larkhill in Wiltshire. From there Frank and the battalion moved to France on the 8th November.

During their first few months in France the 24th Battalion spent time holding the front line trenches around Albert and Arras, as well as being used as labour for various construction and excavation projects behind the lines. They saw some fighting, but were not involved in any large battles.

During May 1916 the 24th Battalion was given the new role of Pioneers. They would now focus on work such as digging trenches, building roads and buildings, and moving supplies. They were still equipped and trained to fight as infantry, but this was no longer their main role.

As Pioneers the battalion supported the Somme Offensive that began on the 1st July. They followed the attacking infantry and began to build new trenches and dug outs in captured areas. The battalion lost 3 men killed and 5 wounded on the 1st July.

Their next operation was on the 14th. This was at Bazentin-le-Petit, again in support of a large British attack. They were constructing trenches in captured positions when they were asked to spare some men to help another unit drive some Germans out of a nearby wood. The rest of the battalion kept working, under German shellfire. Eight men were killed and 44 wounded on this day. This was typical of the role of a Pioneer Battalion.

After they left the Somme sector in September the 24th Battalion moved north to Armentieres near the Belgian border.

Whilst he was here Frank was either wounded or fell ill. He was admitted to hospital in Rouen on the 7th January 1917. He was discharged on the 28th and sent to Number 2 Convalescent Depot, also in Rouen, to finish his recovery. After 4 days he was well enough to move to an Infantry Base Depot at Etaples. He will have rejoined the 24th Battalion shortly afterwards.

The battalion crossed into Belgium in June 1917 and were sent to Ypres (now called Ieper). From June onwards Frank and the 24th Battalion supported the Passchendaele Offensive fought in this area.

On the 30th August Frank left the Manchester Regiment and joined the Royal Flying Corps. He was given the service number 121737. Frank continued to serve in France or Belgium.

We believe he was assigned to 35 Kite Balloon Section. This unit operated observation balloons that were used to observe the enemy lines to gather intelligence about the movements of soldiers. They had telegraph cables connecting them to the ground, allowing the crew to inform their superiors of what they had discovered.

Frank worked as a labourer in this unit. This means it is highly unlikely he was ever a member of the balloon crew. We don't know where he was based with this unit.

The Royal Air Force was created on the 1st April 1918. It was formed by merging the Army's Royal Flying Corps with the Royal Navy's Royal Naval Air Service. Frank was an original member of the RAF and continued to serve in it until after the end of the war in November 1918.

Frank was sent back to the UK on the 14th January 1919 and transferred to the Reserve on the 15th February. This meant he could return home.

The rest of Frank's life is a mystery. He died in Middleton between October and December 1954, aged 71. His medal was donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in June 2004.

As well as his 1914-15 Star, Frank was also awarded the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal for his Army service.

Museum of the Manchester Regiment
c/o Portland Basin Museum
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Heritage Wharf
Ashton-under-Lyne
OL7 0QA

Telephone: 0161 343 2878
Email: Portland.Basin@tameside.gov.uk
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Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council