Frank Andrew SLACK
Rank: Private
Number: 37797
Unit: 2/5th Battalion King’s Own (Royal Lancaster) Regiment
Date of Death: 28 September 1918
Age: 20
Cemetery: Sucerie British Cemetery, Garincourt-les-Havrincourt, Pas de Calais, France

In the summer 1896, Frank Slack, then aged about 23, married Annie Andrew at St Mary's Church, Stockport. Two years later, their son was born and they named him Frank. Nothing else is known of the future soldier's life, except that he enlisted in Stockport. His service number is not an early one and it is likely that he was conscripted after mid-1916 when he was 18.

By the end of September 1918, British troops had been on the attack for nearly two months and the Germans were undertaking a series of fighting retreats. Various major attacks took place throughout the month, assaulting the German fortified defences known as the Hindenberg Line.

On 27 September, one of these actions was launched. It would later be officially designated as the Battle of the Canal du Nord. Frank and his comrades were not involved in the first day's fighting and were held in reserve near the village of Anneux (about 7 kilometres south west of the French town of Cambrai). In the evening, the Battalion was moved forward to reinforce the Hood Battalion of the Royal Naval Division which was being heavily counter-attacked.

At 8.30am the next morning, the Battalion advanced towards the Scheldt Canal, but they met stiff opposition from enemy machine gun positions in La Folie Wood. Gradually, the machine gun posts were attacked and put out of action and the Battalion was able to move towards the Canal. The leading troops were within 10 yards of the intended crossing bridge, when German engineers blew it up.

The rafts intended for crossing had been destroyed by shellfire and it was not until 2pm that the leading troops found a lock-gate they could use to cross. It was early evening before a proper bridgehead had been established and this was then fiercely counter-attacked. The bridgehead was held by "B" and "D" Companies until further reinforcements arrived in the early hours of the 30th.

Sometime during the day, Frank had been killed. News would have quickly come by telegram to the family home, now at 66 Chatham Street, Stockport.

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