Frank Simson WRIGHT
Rank: Guardsman
Number: 28267
Unit: 2nd Battalion GRENADIER GUARDS
Date of Death: 27 March 1918
Age: 33
Cemetery: Bucquoy Road Cemetery, Ficheux, France

Frank lived at 1 Ravenoak Road, Cheadle Hulme, with his wife, Lizzie (nee Bower), who he had married at St Peter's Church, Prestbury in 1913. He had been born at High Legh, Cheshire, the son of James and Elizabeth. The 1901 Census shows that James was a farmer and the family lived at Swineyard Lane. James and Elizabeth had a number of children - Ellen (then 21), James (20), John (18), Frank (16), Mary (13), Alice (12), Joseph (9) and Peter (8). The family later moved to Collingwood Mount, Mottram St Andrew.

Frank enlisted at Stockport and his service number indicates this was quite late in the War. On 20 March 1918, the Grenadiers had gone into reserve at Arras. The next day, the Germans launched a massive and successful attack on the Allied lines between Arras and St Quentin. Shells began to fall on Arras and this confirmed the rumours of the attack that Frank would have heard. By the 25th, the Battalion had been ordered back into the front line to take up a defensive position between Ayette and Boisleux-St-Marc (south east of Arras). Throughout the morning, other Battalions withdrew through the new front line. About 7pm, the enemy was spotted carefully advancing over a crest of a hill. The advance was being covered by machine guns, which caused some casualties. The attack was stopped by determined fire from the Grenadiers and there was no further action during the night.

The Battalion was now ordered to a new position astride the Arras-Albert railway. This was a dangerous position as it was overlooked from the outskirts of the village of Moyenneville. To their front were a number of deserted huts on high ground which could give cover for enemy snipers and machine gunners.

Soon after dawn on the 27th, the Germans appeared, but attacked in a different way from normal. They were not moving forward in close formation but running forward in twos and threes and then taking cover. This was difficult to counter as the British artillery could not be brought to bear to break up the attack. However, concerted rifle fire all along the line took many casualties and the enemy was unable to make progress.

However, all through this time, the Germans were shelling the Guards' trenches causing many casualties. The Regimental History records, however, that the men "found time to bring down one of the enemy's aeroplanes which had ventured too low". The Guards' Battalions on this front held their line for several days until they were relieved.

Sometime during the two days, Frank was severely wounded and will have been evacuated from the trenches and taken to 43rd Casualty Clearing Station, where he died. He is buried in the adjacent cemetery. His headstone is inscribed "Thy purpose, Lord, we cannot see, but is well that's done by Thee".

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

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