Rank: Private
Number: 203260
Unit: 2/7th Battalion LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS
Date of Death: 11 July 1918
Age: 21
Cemetery: Valenciennes Communal Cemetery, Nord, France

Frank was the son of Fred & Annie Newton of High Street, Cheadle, where they were in business as florists and fruiterers. Frank was not in the family business, but worked for Messrs S & J Watts, Portland Street, Manchester (although he is not included in the list of Company employees who served, published in the Manchester Roll of Honour). He was a previous member of the Cheadle parish church choir and the Boys Brigade.

He had enlisted in Stockport in September 1916. He underwent training at Colchester, before going to France in February or March 1917, when the 2/7th Battalion left to go on active service..

On 20 March 1918, Frank's Battalion was in the support trenches a few hundred yards behind the front line, north east of the village of Hargicourt (some 16 kilometres north west of St Quentin). They were expecting an attack and were dug in near quarries close to Templeux-le-Guerard. During the night, the Germans started a very heavy artillery bombardment of miles of the front line. They attacked at 8am, quickly overwhelming the 2/8th Lancashire Fusiliers who bore the brunt of the attack in this sector.

By 9am, they had reached Ernest's position and desperate fighting was taking place. By midday, the Battalion was nearly surrounded. A small party under Captain Smirke managed to break through and made its way south west of Templeux where they joined up with them remnants of the 2/6th and 2.8th Battalions.  Meanwhile, the remainder of the Battalion was trapped in the quarries and was suffering losses from shelling and the many hours of close fighting. An order for them to try again to withdraw did not reach them. By 5pm, exhausted and out of ammunition, they were compelled to surrender.

Ernest was taken prisoner and died of emphysema whilst in a German hospital in Valenciannes.

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

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