Garrett, Frank John. Died 23rd Oct 1918

Frank John GARRETT was born in Harborough Magna, Warwickshire, and his birth was registered in Rugby in Q3 1881.  He was baptised on 2 April 1882 at Harborough Magna.  He was the son of William Garrett, b.c.1844, in Napton, a labourer and later a Grocer’s Porter, and Sarah Green, née Mitchell, Garrett, b.c.1845, also in Napton, latterly a laundress.  They were married in Napton on 26 November 1867.

By 1891 when Frank was 10, the family had moved to 3 East Union Street, Rugby.  Frank had two elder brothers, Leonard, 15, and Thomas, 12; and a younger brother and sister, Ernest, 7, and Mary Ann, 2, who died aged 10 in 1899.  An elder sister, Louisa, b.c.1873, had married John Thomas Wolfe, a fireman from the Newbold Road, at St Andrew’s church, Rugby on 25 December 1897.  Her brother, Leonard was a witness.

By 1901, when Frank was 19, he was working as a ‘Cowman on farm’ for farmer, Thomas Wainwright, and living in the farmhouse, Limestone Hall Farm House, near Church Lawford.

In 1911, when Frank was 28, he was still single and living with Leonard, his married elder brother, at 11 Russell Street, Rugby.  He was a carter as was his brother who was a carter for the Urban District Council.

A later notice stated that before the war he worked at B.T.H. in Rugby.[1]

Fortunately 22 pages of Frank’s army Service Record have survived, as well as his Medal Card and his listing in various other sources.  However, these are in places somewhat confused, and show that although these can show amazing information, in the confusion of war, records may not always be correct in every detail.

Frank joined up in Rugby,[2] and his Medal Card showed that he served in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (R.War.R) as a private with, latterly, the Regimental Number: 268342.  The CWGC confirms that he finished his service with this number in the 1st/8th Battalion (Bn.).  There was no date on his Medal Card for when he went to France, and he did not receive the 1914-18 Star, suggesting he went to France after the end of 1915, possibly some time after he had joined up.  However, some of this information is provided on his Service Record.

His WWI Service Medal and Award Rolls,[3] show that he served as a private with the same regimental number in two separate Battalions: the 16th Bn. R.War.R., and then the 1st/8th Bn. R.War.R..  Exactly when he was with each these Battalions was unknown until his Service Record was examined.  Indeed, he served briefly in several other Battalions.

The Service Records are somewhat confused and on one page note that he ‘rejoined the colours on 19.10.16’, which suggests earlier service, although there is no evidence for this.  It may just indicate that he had already ‘signed up’ on 1 October 1916, but was not ‘called up for service’ in Rugby until 19 October 1916.  He was then a single labourer, aged 35 years and 2 months, 5ft 2¼in tall, and lived at 97 Bridge Street, Rugby.  He gave as his next of kin his elder married sister, ‘Louisa Wolfe c/o Newbold Road, Rugby.’

His preference was to join the ‘Horse Transport A.S.C.’, but he was initially posted as a private with the Number: 22026, in the 3rd Bn. R.War.R., a reserve Battalion based on the Isle of Wight.

There are various lists of his movements and postings.  He was in UK from 19 October 1916 to 10 January 1917 (84 days), latterly at ‘Parkhurst’ – the Barracks on the Isle of Wight where the 3rd Bn. were then based – where he probably underwent basic training, from 20 October 1916 until 8 January 1917.

He was then posted to ‘B E F France’ on 9 January 1917, although another record states that he sailed from Southampton on 11 January 1917 to arrive in Havre on 12 January 1917 to join, briefly, the 16th Bn. R.War.R.,[4] in the Expeditionary Force in France on 15 January 1917.

Frank was with the 16th Bn. for only a very short time and ten days later, on 26 January 1917, he was posted to the 2nd/7th Bn. R.War.R. with the Number: 20599,[5] but he would again be re-numbered as 268342 on 1 March 1917.  He was recorded as being in France with the 2nd/7th Bn. R.War.R. until 18 February 1918.

The 2nd/7th Bn. R.War.R. was formed at Coventry, in October 1914, it was a second line unit, initially for home service only, and then in February 1915 in the 2/1st Warwickshire Brigade, 2/1st South Midland Division in Northampton area.  They went to the Chelmsford area in March 1915, and became the 182nd Brigade, in the 61st (2nd South Midland) Division in August 1915.  They were on Salisbury Plain in March 1916 and landed in France on 21 May 1916, and were trained near Bethune. They took part in the attack at Fromelles in July 1916, supplementing the Somme Offensive.  The 61st Division was so badly mauled that it was not used offensively again in 1916.

The 2nd/7th Bn. War Diary[6] relates that on 26 January 1917, the day when Frank arrived in France, the Battalion was in training, so Frank probably reached them with the draft of 96 men from base depot that arrived on 28 January 1917.

Thereafter, the battalion was probably involved in operations with their Brigade, including the Operations on the Ancre, 11-15 January 1917; the German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line, 14 March-5 April 1917; the Battle of Langemarck, 16-18 August 1917; the Battle of Cambrai and the German counter-attacks, 1-3 December 1917.

They were ‘At rest’ on Christmas Day 1917, but soon after on 30 December moved to Caix and then to Hangest en Santerre, about 50 miles south of Arras.

There is then some further confusion in the Service Record as he was apparently granted leave in UK from 17 January to 31 January 1918, either this was so he could be married, or he took the opportunity to do so, during ‘Q1, 1918’.  He married with Alice Selina Timms at St Matthew’s church, Rugby, and according to the army records this was on ‘12-1-1918’ [a date when he was still in France!!].  Alice had been born in 1889 in New Bilton, Rugby – and their address was given as 97 Bridget Street, Rugby.

Although he is not recorded as returning to France, it may have been that his leave was brought forward a week or so.  However, he obviously did return to France, but a few days later on 4 February 1918, he fractured a rib, ‘Fractured Ribs R’, in the ‘Field’ and was sent to 61th CCS [Casualty Clearing Station] and then to 10th GH [General Hospital][7] for ‘Fractured Ribs R Severe, cont[usion] chest’[8] on 18 February 1918.  This injury was possibly due to an accident, as was mentioned on one form, as on 4 February 1918 the War Diary stated ‘Day quiet.  Visibility good.  Aerial activity only.  Night quiet.  Good patrolling – no results.’

Frank was sent back to UK on 18 February 1918, arriving 19 February 1918, and was listed at 158 Depot on 19 February 1918, and whilst there he was classified as ‘Dentally Fit’.  This was noted as being a ‘Home’ posting, with no mention of the earlier UK leave when he was married!  He was admitted to the War Hospital at Clopton,[9] Stratford on Avon on 17 February 1918 [this again suggests some slight errors with dates, as he was then still in France!!] with his ‘fractured 11th rib R [accident]’ and was not discharged until 2 April 1918.  During this period he was apparently again [re]issued with his final Number: 268342.

On 13 April 1918, Frank was posted to Perham Down Depot, Andover,[10] possibly for further convalescence, and was discharged and posted to the 7th Bn. R.War.R. on 21 June 1918.  He was Classed ‘AIII’, being thus ‘Able to march, see to shoot, hear well and stand active service conditions, … Returned Expeditionary Force men, ready except for physical condition.’  He joined the 7th Reserve Bn. at Gosforth on 22 June 1918 and whilst there had a ‘TAB/1’ inoculation on 18 July and then ‘Proceeded Overseas to France’ from North Elswick Hall and embarked at Southampton for Havre on 30 September 1918, under the orders of the 7th Bn., and proceeded to Rouen where he was posted to the 2nd/6th Bn. on the 3 October and then to the 1st/8th Bn. on the 6 October 1918.  He ‘joined his unit in the field’ on the 8 October 1918.

The 1st/8th Bn. had mobilised for war and landed at Havre on 22 March 1915 and became part of the 143rd Brigade of the 48th Division and was engaged in many actions on the Western Front.  In later 1917 they had moved to Italy, and remained there in 1918, until they left the Division on 11 September 1918 and moved to back to France, to join the 75th Brigade of the 25th Division shortly before Frank was posted to them.

The 1st/8th Bn. R.War.R. War Diary[11] for their time with 25th Division gives an outline of their actions during the last few days of Frank’s life during the Pursuit to and Battle of the Selle (17–25 October 1918), which was part of the final ‘Hundred Days Offensive’ of World War I.

8 Oct – The success of the operations of this day brought the battalion into action at SONIA farm, where it held a gap between the 30th American Div. and out 7th Brigade. … moved up to the forming up positions between SERAIN and PREMONT.

9 Oct – Zero was at 5.20 … the battalion advanced and took its objectives beyond MARETZ …

10 Oct – Starting from a point N of HONNECHY …the battalion advanced after heavy fighting to the outskirts of LE CATEAU. … The Americans … had been held up … the positions taken were consolidated and held.

11 Oct – … the battalion marched out to HONNECHY … this was … the heaviest and most continuous fighting which the battalion had met and the battalion came out with fresh laurels added to its reputation. …

12 Oct – the battalion marched to SERAIN to rest.

13-15 Oct – Sunday … services … reorganisation and re-equipment … and training …

16 Oct – … in reserve …for attack … on R. SELLE … moved to HONNECHY.

17-18 Oct – HONNECHY – supporting Gloucesters and Worcesters …

19 Oct – … C&D Coys moved with Worcesters to attack BAZUEL which was taken and held. …

20 Oct – … battalion relieved and marched out to ST BEN[I]N . …

21 Oct – Here the unit rested and reorganised.

22 Oct – … the battalion … moved up to its forming up position along the railway …

23 Oct – POMMEREUIL – The attack commenced at 01.20 hours. … to be used to help mop up POMMEREUIL … owing to heavy fog the attacking units of the first wave became rather mixed up … but on Capt W Mortemons M.C. who was commanding the battalion … going out and taking command … and organising attacks on enemy M.G. nests which had been missed …the situation rapidly cleared and all objectives were gained.

However, in period of rapid advance to the south-east of Cambrai, and during the actions around Pommereuil on the 23 and 24 October, the Battalion suffered 13 O.R.s killed and 5 O.R.s missing, and 3 officers and 4 O.R.s wounded.

Frank had been with the Battalion for only 15 days when he became one of those 13 O.R.s, and was ‘Killed in Action’ on 23 October 1918.

His body was recovered and he was buried in the nearby Pommereuil British Cemetery, in Nord, France, in grave reference: D. 47.

Pommereuil is a village 3 kilometres east of Le Cateau.  It was the scene of severe fighting on 23-24 October 1918 and the cemetery was made by the 25th Division after the capture of the village. Pommereuil British Cemetery contains 173 First World War burials.  It originally contained a wooden memorial to the 20th Manchesters, who erected it to their officers and men who fell on the 23rd October. The cemetery was designed by W H Cowlishaw.[12]

The earlier burial information listed his death, and that of some others in the cemetery, as 25 October 1918, however, the later documentation corrects this and gives 23 October, and suggests the earlier date was a transcription/typing error.  Whilst there was no family inscription added to his memorial by the family, his widow’s name was given ‘Mrs A Garrett, 97 Bridget Street, Rugby’.

On 6  November, the Rugby Advertiser noted,
Pte. F Garrett (36), R.W.R., 97 Bridget Street, Rugby, has been killed in action.  Previous to joining the army he was employed at the B.T.H.’[13]

Frank John Garrett’s Medal Card and the Medal Roll showed that he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.  These were issued to his widow in July 1921.  His name also appears on the War Memorial Gates, Whitehall Road, Rugby.  Although reported to have worked at B.T.H., he does not appear on their memorial, perhaps he was there for too short a time.

His widow received a separation allowance of 12/6d until ‘11/5/19’; she then received a pension of 13/9d per week from 12 May 1919.  Any effects were to be sent to her at 97 Bridget Street, Rugby, and a note later stated ‘Effects sent 27.3.19’; these comprised, ‘Letters, Photos, Disc, Wallet, & Post Cards’.

His widow also received his monies owing in two tranches: £2-2-6d on 11 March 1919 and 11/6d on 23 April 1919.  She later received his War Gratuity of £8-16s on 4 December 1919.  She died in later 1920.

Three days after Frank’s death, on 26 October, Erich Ludendorff, First Quartermaster General of the German army, resigned under pressure from Kaiser Wilhelm II.  The ‘100 Days’ Advance to Victory’ continued and only two weeks after Frank’s death, the War came to an end.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

– – – – – –

 

This article on Frank John GARRETT was researched and written for the Rugby Family History Group [RFHG] project, by John P H Frearson and is © John P H Frearson and the RFHG, August 2018.

[1]      Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 16 November 1918.

[2]      Also shown in: UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919

[3]      The National Archives, WWI Service Medal and Award Rolls; Medal Royal Warwickshire Regiment, Piece 0743.

[4]      The 16th Battalion had been formed at Birmingham in September 1914 by the Lord Mayor and a local committee.  They had landed at Boulogne on 21 November 1915 and on 26 December 1915 they transferred to 15th Brigade, 5th Division.

[5]      At some period he seems also to have had the Number 22026.

[6]      UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, TNA ref: 61st Division, Piece 3056/3: 2/7 Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, (1915 Sep – 1919 Aug).

[7]      The 10th General Hospital was in Rouen from October 1914 to May 1919.  He was sent on to UK.

[8]      Such an injury can take from a few days to a few weeks to heal, hence the time in hospital and in UK.

[9]      Images of Clopton House Hospital in 1917 can be seen at:-  https://www.ourwarwickshire.org.uk/content/catalogue_wow/stratford-upon-avon-clopton-house-war-hospital; also https://www.ourwarwickshire.org.uk/content/catalogue_wow/stratford-upon-avon-clopton-house-war-hospital-2; and https://www.ourwarwickshire.org.uk/content/catalogue_wow/stratford-upon-avon-clopton-house-war-hospital-3.

[10]     Perham Down is a village near Tidworth, on the edge of Salisbury Plain.  In 1915 a hutted army camp was built on Perham Down.  It seems to have served as a convalescence centre.

[11]     TNA, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, 25th Division, Piece 2251/4: 8 Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment (1918 Sep – 1919 Feb).

[12]     Edited from https://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/58903/pommereuil-british-cemetery/.

[13]     Rugby Advertiser, Saturday, 16 November 1918.

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