Frank MARKS
Rank: Private
Number: 377886
Unit: 1/7th Battalion MANCHESTER REGIMENT
Date of Death: 27 September 1918
Age: 21
Cemetery: Ribecourt Road Cemetery, Trescault, Pas de Calais, France

Frank was the son of John and Mary Marks of 43 Farr Street, Edgeley. He worked for the bleaching company of Melland & Coward Ltd at its works at Vale Road, Heaton Mersey.

In early September 1914, Frank travelled into Manchester and enlisted into the army joining the second of the newly formed "Pals" Battalions of the Manchester Regiment. This was later designated as the 17th Battalion and Frank was given the service number of 8741 and was assigned to 6 Platoon, "B" Company. He took part in the Battalion's attack at Montauban on 1 July 1916 (for details see separate page in the "Fields of Fire" section.) and was wounded in the leg. He was evacuated to the UK where he spent time in military hospitals recovering.

When he was fit enough to return to duty, in March 1917, his later service number indicates that he was transferred to the 10th Battalion of the Regiment.  This was probably the 2/10th Battalion which was a "second-line" territorial unit that went overseas for the first time in that month. It was disbanded in February 1918 and this was, probably, when Frank was transferred to the 7th.

By late September 1918, the British army had been on the attack for several weeks and the War had not long left. There was, however, much hard fighting ahead and the 27th was to be no exception. The task for the troops this day would be to assault the main German fortified front line known as the Hindenberg Line. The plan was the 5th Manchesters would lead the assault and capture the initial objective on the Trescault Ridge. The 6th and 7th Battalions would then leapfrog past to capture two further positions.

On schedule, the 7th advanced at 8.20am. "A" Company immediately came under machine gun fire, both from the front and from their right flank. They pressed on capturing their objective but all the officers had become casualties and command passed to Company Sergeant Major Joyce. "C" Company had also attacked and, as with "A" had suffered numerous casualties. One platoon was reduced to just seven men. The remaining troops rushed the enemy trench taking 25 prisoners and two machine guns.

Both companies continued to edge forward but, by 11am, their fighting strength had been reduced to just 87 men (full strength would have been nearer 500), and there was no alternative but to stop.

"D" Company had had a better time crossing No Man's Land. It had come under fire but there had been relatively few casualties. They rushed the German positions at 9.40 capturing about 75 men and then pressed forward again. "B" Company had had a similar experience but came under heavy machine gun fire as it reached the German trench.

By late morning, the 6th & 7th Batatlions appear to have found themselves quite isolated as the  units on either side had not been able to advance as successfully. They now called for artillery support and this came down on the Germans about 45 minutes later. This allowed the Manchesters to storm forward again but their numbers were now only about 50 from the 7th Battalion and 30 from the 6th.

At about 3.30, the troops having regrouped somewhat now found themselves isolated once more and, as they were coming under very heavy fire, withdrew to a sunken lane where they dug-in.

The History of 42nd Division (of which the Battalion was part) records that 450 men of the Battalion had gone over the top at 8.20 and, by the end of the day, only 150 were left. The rest were dead, wounded or missing. Frank and another local man, James Lee, were amongst the casualties.

Regimental records suggest that Frank was not killed outright but died shortly afterwards from his wounds. However, the Stockport Advertiser, in its edition of 18 October, reported "Whilst acting as a stretcher bearer and in the act of bandaging one of his comrades, he was struck by a bullet and instantly killed."

   
           
   
     
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