Frank Astley GODDARD
Rank: Private
Number: PS/8015
Unit: C Company, 9th Battalion ROYAL FUSILIERS
Date of Death: 4 August 1916
Age: 21
Cemetery: Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France

Frank's father, Samuel Goddard, had died as a relatively young man in the late 1890s. He had married Mary E Astley in a civil ceremony registered at Stockport in the late spring of 1892. The couple would have four children together - Ernest, Frank, Marion and Mary. Mary was just 9 months old when the Census was taken in 1901. Her mother was in trade as a dealer in pictures and, at the time, the family was living in a "two up, two down" at 10 Bramhall Lane. By the time of the War, they had moved to 4 Soudan Road (and later to 9 Gordon Avenue, Hazel Grove). The family worshipped at St Georges Church and, as a boy, Frank had furthered his education by attending the Church's Sunday School. Later, he was active with the Men's Class and became its librarian. As an active parishioner, Frank was later to be commemorated on the Church's War Memorial as well as the main town Memorial at the Art Gallery.

Frank enlisted into the army at Manchester and his service number indicates that he originally joined one the "Public School" battalions of the Fusiliers. As far as is known, Frank was not educated at a public school but his choice of joining one of those battalions almost certainly confirms that the family was leading a comfortable middle class lifestyle by that time.

The 9th Fusiliers went overseas in the late spring of 1915 and Frank joined them, as one of group of replacements for casualties on 15 November. In reserve at the time, on 9 December, the Battalion spent the day patrolling the streets of the French town of Bethune, arresting possible spies. The next day, they moved to the front line.

On 4 August 1916, with the Battle of the Somme just over a month old, the Battalion received orders to move to the front line to prepare for an attack on German positions in what was known as Ration Trench, near the village of Pozieres. Frank and his comrades marched from the nearby town of Albert at 3pm and were in position by 6.30.

They went "over the top" at 9.15. Frank and the rest of "C" Company were in the centre of the attack, with "A" to their right and "D" on the left. "B" stayed behind manning the British trench. By 10pm, reports were being received by Battalion HQ that "A" and "C" had taken their objectives but were unsupported by the battalions either side of them. In fact, fighting continued all night but the position was not fully secured until morning. 49 men had been killed. Few have a known grave.

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