Francis Edmund BRADSHAW-ISHERWOOD
Rank: Lieutenant-Colonel
Number:
Unit: 1st Battalion YORK & LANCASTER REGIMENT
Date of Death: 8 May 1915
Age: 45
Cemetery: Menin Gate Memorial, Ieper, Belgium

Frank was an experienced and distinguished professional soldier. He was the son of John Bradshaw-Isherwood JP of Marple Hall, Marple. The family had lived at the Hall since it was built in 1668 and one of his ancestors had presided at the trial of Charles 1.

His commission, as a 2nd Lieutenant in the York and Lancaster Regiment, was published in the London Gazette in January 1892 and, in the way of the army in those days, promotion was slow.

He was not promoted to Captain until 1901, when he was in South Africa with the Regiment during the Boer War. Frank took part in the Relief of Ladysmith and other actions at Vall Kranz, Tugela Heights and Pieters Hill and would be Mentioned in Despatches for his service. He received the Queen's and King's Medals, with seven clasps.

Returning home, he married Kathleen Machell-Smith at Stow, in Suffolk during the March quarter of 1903. Their first son, Christopher, was born at Marple the following year. A second son, Richard, was born at Farnham in Hampshire in 1911. The same year, Frank was promoted to Major.

When War was declared, Frank was serving with the Regiment's 2nd Battalion on garrison duty in Limerick in Ireland. They were ordered to Cambridge to assemble with other units of the British 6th Division and went to France in mid-September.  He was again Mentioned in Despatches in February 1915 and, on the 19th of that month, was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel. In March, he returned home for a period of leave.

Back at the front by late April, Frank was directed to take command of the Regiment's 1st Battalion from the 29th of the month. Its previous commander, Colonel Bart had been killed the previous week. Over the coming days, the Battalion came under serious attack from the Germans in what was later designated to be part of the Second Battle of Ypres. On 7 May, they were relieved from the front line to billets in huts near the town.

They arrived in the early hours of the morning of the 8th and received a draft of 487 newly trained replacement troops - equivalent to about half of the battalion's normal strength. At 11.30am, they were ordered to "stand to" for inspection and, within 45 minutes, were moving forward to try to recapture trenches near Zonnebeke. The trenches were those they had been in only the day before and which had been quickly lost by the relieving Battalion.

This part of the Battle of Ypres would be later designated the Battle of Frezenberg and , as they approached the village at 5pm, they came under heavy shellfire and had to halt in the support trenches. The Battalion's War Diary records that, at 8pm, "The attack was pushed almost up to the German trenches but owing to the very heavy casualties in officers and men, it did not achieve its effect. All the officers were put out of action with exception of Lieutenant Briscoe who was able to get together the remnants of the Battalion the next day."  This entry, written shortly after the attack by a junior professional officer, perhaps underestimates what had happened. The Battalion had been reduced from over 700 men to just 83. The rest were dead, wounded or missing. Over 125 had been killed dead. Few had made it to the German trench and those that managed to get into it were killed or taken prisoner.

There was confusion about Frank's whereabouts for weeks after the attack. The first reports, in the Stockport Advertiser of 21 May, said that he had been shot in the arm by a sniper and was recovering well in a hospital in France. By 11 June, it was now clear he was missing, but his fate was still unknown. The Advertiser reported conflicting information in its edition of 25 June. One of the Battalion's soldiers had written from a hospital in Scotland to say that his Colonel "had died like a hero and the last he had seen of him after he fell leading the charge was as he lay bleeding from the head and chest on the field."  However, another man, described as a "Red Cross" man (but presumably one of the Battalion stretcher bearers) had said he attended to the Colonel and had left him in a ditch as they were retreating and assumed he was a prisoner.

A week later, conclusive proof of his death was reported. His family had received his identification discs which had been collected by a German soldier who was later taken prisoner. The Advertiser described Frank as a "modest quiet gentleman and a very considerable officer who had the esteem and respect of officers and men alike".

Frank's body was never recovered and identified. His story has previously been told in the book "Remembered" by P Clarke, A Cook and J Bintliff. The authors suggest that his name appears on two Memorials to the Missing in Belgium - the Menin Gate at Ieper and a smaller Memorial to the south at Ploegsteert. They suggest that Frank's wife did not think that the Ploegsteert Memorial was suitable for a man of his stature and used influence to have Frank's name inscribed on an addenda panel to the Ieper Memorial. The original records of the Imperial War Graves Commission have recently been consulted and there is no indication that Frank's name was ever inscribed on the Memorial at Ploegsteert. It would also be most unlikely that it would have even been considered as it was in a different battle sector. The names of the men who fell with Frank and who also have no known grave are commemorated with him and 54,000 others on the Menin Gate.

   
           
   
     
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