Frank Summerville LILES
Rank: Gunner
Number: 161084
Unit: 170th Siege Battery ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY
Date of Death: 31 October 1917
Age: 37
Cemetery: Ypres Reservoir Cemetery, Ieper, Belgium

Born in the opening months of 1881, Frank Liles was a native of Cheadle. He married in 1908 in the Bolton area. The family history website, FreeBMD, indicates his wife was either Agnes Kay or Mary Shorrock.

He was in business as a butcher at 86 Stockport Road in Cheadle. His mother had died and he was reported to have had no other family other than his elderly father and his wife.

However, an examination of the 1891 and 1901 Census returns and other records confirm that his father, David, and brother Walter were living at 9 High Street in 1918, where David had carried on business as a bootmaker for many years. 

Frank had enlisted on 14 May 1917 in Stockport and had been on active service for 23 weeks when he was killed.

The Royal Garrison Artillery used the largest calibre of all the army's firepower and Siege Batteries held the most powerful. They were situated some considerable way behind the front line, with their guns mounted in large concrete emplacements or on railways. They were used to destroy enemy strongpoints or artillery positions. As such, they were regular targets for the enemy's own artillery.    

Few official records remain of RGA batteries, as the official war diary was often maintained by a higher level in the army structure. However, some information is available about Frank's death. The major in command of his battery wrote to the family "They were pulling a gun up when the enemy started shelling the position at about 10pm. Everyone at once got underneath the gun for cover but the shelling increased in intensity and the order was given to make for an old shaft which was some distance away. Unfortunately, your husband and two other men remained where they were, under the splinter-proof shelter by the gun. This shelter received a direct hit a few minutes later and all three men were killed."

The officer concluded "The burial takes place tomorrow afternoon (2 November) and I will see that a cross and instructions are erected."

Frank's younger brother, Harold, would also be killed before the War ended.

(Original research by John Hartley for the Cheadle & Gatley War Memorials website)

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