Frank THICKETT D.C.M.
Rank: Sergeant
Number: 350516
Unit: 9th Battalion MANCHESTER REGIMENT
Date of Death: 21 March 1918
Age: 26 (based on 1901 Census)
Cemetery: Pozieres Memorial, Somme, France

By the time of the 1901 Census, 36 year old Lucy Thickett was already a widow, trying to bring up three young children in just two rooms at Back Lane, Hyde. Nine year old Frank had two older siblings - John (13) and Jane (15).

Nothing else is known of Frank's life except that Regimental records published after the War indicate he was living in Edgeley when War was declared. He was a pre-War member of the Territorial Battalion (service number 1969), serving with "A" Company, and was mobilised in August 1914. The Battalion spent the next seven months on Egypt and then went into action at Gallipoli.

Around the beginning of 1918, the Battalion was in France or Belgium and Frank took part in a raid on the enemy's trenches. For his bravery, Frank was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, at the time second only to the Victoria Cross. The citation, officially published in the London Gazette on 30 April 1918, reads:-

"For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during a raid on the enemy's trenches. When an enemy machine gun opened fire from the right of the raiding party, he rushed it with two men, killed the detachment and captured the gun. His prompt and courageous action was of the greatest assistance to the raiding party."

On 21 March, the long awaited German attack was delivered with overwhelming force. Within hours, the British Army was undertaking a desperate fighting retreat along a wide front. It is not surprising, therefore, that there are sparse details of the day recorded in the Battalion's War Diary. It records, however, that at 4.30am, they were ordered to "battle stations". They had to move into their designated position through a heavy gas bombardment which caused about 30 casualties. It then says, simply, "the battalion went into action and continued in action till April 1st."

In fact, although the 9th Battalion was kept in reserve, there was desperate fighting and, by the end of the day, the Battalion had been forced to retreat to avoid being cut-off. Nearly 70 men were dead. Like Frank, few have a known grave.

Frank probably never knew he had been awarded the Military Cross. His commander on the raid and on the day he died was Captain Douglas Stephenson.

   
           
   
     
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