Frank HARGRAVES
Rank: Lieutenant
Number:
Unit: 19th Battalion ROYAL WELSH FUSILIERS
Date of Death: 13 July 1916
Age: 27
Cemetery: Loos British Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France

Born on 31 March 1889, at Willow Cottage, Bowden, Frank was the son of Stephen and Susannah. It would seem that the family never stayed in one place for too long, moving in connection with Stephen's profession as a surveyor and land agent. The 1901 Census notes them at Manor House, Station Road, Marple but also notes that Frank's older sister, Isabella, had been born in Carnarvonshire (from where their mother originated). Mr Hargraves obviously had a successful practice as the family could afford to employ a live-in general servant - Elizabeth Johnston.

By the time of the War, the family was at The Elms in Heswall on Wirral and Frank was working as an estate agent. He enlisted into the army on 5 August - the day after War was declared. His service papers still exist at the National Archives and they show him to have been 5' 7" tall - average height for those days. The medical examination passed him fit for duty, noting he had good vision and a good physical development. He had joined the 1/6th Battalion of the King's (Liverpool) Regiment - one of its Territorial Battalions - and was given 1704 as his service number.

As with many middle class young men, he quickly sought to become an officer, making his application on 19 December. However, unlike many of his contemporaries, it wasn't immediately acted on and he went overseas as a Lance Corporal on 24 February 1915.

However, after a few weeks in the trenches, his application was approved and he returned to the UK on 6 May. After completing his officer training on 5 June, 2nd Lieutenant Hargraves was posted to the newly formed 19th Battalion of the Welsh Fusiliers. This had been established as a "Bantam Battalion" formed of men who did not meet the army's original regulation minimum height of 5' 3". All of Frank's men would, therefore, be between 5' and 5 3" and, although not tall himself, he would have seemed an imposing figure by comparison. The Battalion went overseas on 1 June 1916 and Frank was with them as its Machine Gun Officer in charge of the teams of men who operated the Battalion's light Lewis guns.

Frank will have seen much fighting during the Battle of the Somme in the summer and autumn of 1916 and was "Mentioned in Despatches", in the despatch of Sir Douglas Haig, dated 13 November and published in the London Gazette on 2 January 1917. Of course, by then, Frank was already dead.

To the south, the Battle of the Somme had been underway for nearly two weeks, but near the village of Calonne, things were relatively quiet. There was, however, no shelter for the almost constant shelling by the enemy and 13 July was no exception. The Battalion was in the trenches when it came under fire from German trench mortars and heavy artillery. Frank was killed outright. One of his men was badly wounded and died a short while later.

In 1916, Mr & Mrs Hargarves had moved back to Marple and were living at Ruthven House (and later at "Springfield").

Frank was originally buried close to where he died, at Cite Calonne Military Cemetery at Lieven. At the end of the War, it contained nearly 300 burials, over 200 of them British. However, many of these smaller front line cemeteries were closed as the land was returned to civilian use. The bodies of nearly 140 French and German burials were removed to their national cemeteries and the remaining British and Canadian bodies were exhuimed and reburied at Loos.

Further information about Frank, including a photograph, can be found in the book "Remembered" by P Clarke, A Cook and J Bintliff.

   
           
   
     
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