Frank DICKEN
Rank: Private
Number: S4/140317
Unit: No. 1 Line of Communication Company ARMY SERVICE CORPS
Date of Death: 22 July 1917
Age: 36
Cemetery: North Gate War Cemetery, Baghdad, Iraq

Francis Dicken married Hannah Harrison at St Peter's Church, Prestbury, Cheshire between July and September 1868. They would have at least four children, of whom Frank was the youngest. Francis died in 1891, aged 51, in the Heaton Norris area. Ten years later, at the 1901 Census, Hannah, aged 54, was head of the household. The children, still living at home were Annie (28, a milliner), Charles (23, joiner), Elizabeth (21, felt hat trimmer) and Frank (19, butcher's assistant).

Frank continued to earn a living as a butcher and, when he enlisted into the army, he was working for the Stockport Co-operative Society.

Shortly after war was declared in 1914, British troops landed in Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) to secure the oil fields around the southern town of Basra. Then as now, oil was vital and Britain needed large quantities to maintain the ships of the Royal Navy. Buoyed by early success, British troops gradually advanced north with the intent of defeating the Turkish army and capturing Baghdad. It proved to be a disaster as, in late November 1915, the British army was forced to retreat to the city of Kut where it was besieged for 5 months being forced to surrender. Baghdad was eventually captured in March 1917.

Frank's Company of the ASC was responsible for maintaining and transporting supplies along part of the line of advance, from Basra northwards. The Turkish Army was almost the least of the soldiers' difficulties - the extremes of temperature, vermin, flies, insufficient water - all contributed to appalling conditions under which the men had to serve. Many, like Frank, became ill and died.

After he died, a short obituary appeared in the local newspaper. It included an "In memorium" notice from Lizzie and Charles of (48) Brinksway, Stockport. As Frank's mother, Hannah, was not mentioned, it must be presumed she had died by this time.

   
           
   
     
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