Frank Wilkinson SEYMOUR
Rank: Private
Number: 63489
Unit: 13th Battalion ROYAL WELSH FUSILIERS
Date of Death: 31 July 1917
Age: 20
Cemetery: Menin Gate Memorial, Ieper, Belgium

Thomas Wilkinson Seymour and Susan Bennett had married in late 1887 at St Margaret's Church, Whalley Range. Their first child, Reginald, was born in the area in 1891 (he would later serve in the War with the Royal Field Artillery). The family may have moved to Brosley, Shropshire by the late 1890s, as Frank was born there. However, by 1901, when a national census was taken, the family was living at 227 George Lane, Bredbury (and, later, at 8 Berrycroft Lane, Romiley). Thomas was not at home at the time and may have been working away.

As a young man, Frank had gone to work at Schofield's bleachworks in Romiley from where, in late 1916, he travelled into Stockport to enlist into the army. He had tried to join up earlier in the War but had been rejected because of his eyesight. Now, with casualties mounting, standards were loosened.

At the end of July 1917, he had been overseas on active service for two months and was about to be killed on the first day of the major British offensive that would be officially designated as the Third Battle of Ypres - but is better known by the name of the village which was an early objective - Passchendaele. The attack would be made in each sector by a series of leapfrogging advances by different battalions.

Frank and his mates were tasked with capturing the front line (marked on the map as the "Blue Line") and the second objective -  the Black Line. The leading two companies attacked at 3.50am. It was extremely dark and very difficult to pick up landmarks. As they crossed No Man's Land, they moved towards where the British barrage was falling but this couldn't correct moves to the right or left. It was left to the officers to snatch quick glances at their compasses. The Blue Line was taken and secured with little difficulty.

The remaining two companies had also moved across No Man's Land and now advanced towards the Black Line. As they did so, they came under fire from heavily defended positions at Marsouin and Stray Farms where pillboxes had been constructed. Attempts to outflank one of these proved fruitless and the men took cover in shellholes to avoid the machinegun fire. Corporal James Davies rushed the pillbox on his own, killed one man and took the other prisoner, allowing the advance to continue. They soon came up against another defended position at Corner House and Davies got some men and, together, they rushed this and took it. He was badly wounded soon after but still managed to shoot a sniper before dying. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery.

The attack had been a success. Costly in terms of casualties. But a success.

Publishing news of his death, the Stockport Advertiser, on 24 August, said "He had been in action once and come out all right and went in again and was killed in a charge. A comrade said they got into the German second line and then he suddenly saw Frank fall and that was the last he saw of him. His body was afterwards found in shell hole. His captain reported he was killed by a bullet and he had received his personal belongings."  The fighting around the Passchendale ridge continued well into the autumn and it is not known if it was ever safe enough to recover Frank's body for burial. If it was, then the location was lost or destroyed in the fighting and his name is now commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing at Ieper.

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