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2nd Lieutenant, 20th Manchester Regiment.

Killed in action 1st July 1916, age 23.

Buried in Dantzig Alley British Cemetery, France.

Student of law.


 

Frank was born at Northenden, Manchester on 8th August 1892, the eldest child of Arthur Percy and Edith Brooks. His father was a solicitor whose company Smith and Brooks had offices at 30 St. Petersgate, Stockport and 12 Exchange Street, Manchester. The family lived at 186 Northenden Road, Gatley. His early education was at Stockport Grammar School, after which he entered Manchester University in 1912 to study law while articled to the family firm.

Frank joined the Special Reserve before the War, an updated version of the old Militia, serving as a private with the 4th North Staffordshire Regiment, and was mobilised on the outbreak of war. He applied for a Commission on 27th November 1914, and was posted to the 20th Manchester Regiment (5th Manchester Pals) as a 2nd Lieutenant shortly after and was given command of 14 Platoon, “D” Company. In November 1915 the Battalion left for the front in France, where his time was spent between trench duty and training behind the lines for the “big push”.  A popular officer due to his cheery and optimistic disposition, on the opening day of the Battle of the Somme he was leading his platoon in an attack that ultimately proved successful on a German 1st line trench at Fricourt. Unfortunately he was hit and killed in no man’s land before he reached the German lines alongside the battalion’s C.O. The two were buried together in the captured German trench. After the Armistice the bodies were recovered and reburied at Dantzig Alley. A Lieutenant J.W. Ramsbottom wrote to Frank’s parents:  “May I as an old associate of your son be allowed to express my sympathy with you in your great loss. He and I were in the same Company for over 12 months and I regarded him as one of my greatest friends in the Battalion. But with all of us, he was popular because of his cheery ways and his happy gift of looking on the bright side of things. We all miss him terribly and so can sympathise the more with you. But we are proud of him and those who died with him. I hear he was killed almost instantaneously and so would suffer no pain. He was leading his men across to the German trenches. He has been buried with his commanding officer and other brother officers in a grave in the German trench they died trying to capture and thanks to their efforts in the past and their example in the attack, it was captured.”