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Frank Williams was born in 1893 in Crewe, Cheshire to William and Louisa Williams (nee Huxley). His father was also born in Cheshire and his mother was originally from Shropshire, the couple married in Crewe in 1885. William and Louisa appear to have had at least ten children altogether, the first six, including Frank were all born in Crewe; Ada Annie (1885), Louisa (1887), John (1889), Mary Hannah (1891), Frank* (1893) and Frances (1895).

After Frances was born Frank and his family moved to Horwich near Bolton where two more children were born; Jesse (1897) and Sam (1900). By 1901 William and Louisa had moved again, this time to 27 Ladyman Street in Preston. Frank`s father provided for his family by working as a general labourer so it`s possible he was moving his family around in order to find work. Not long after they arrived in Preston two more children were born; Stanley (1903) and Joseph (1907).

In 1911 William Williams was boarding with Matthew Cookson and his family at 25 Holt Street in Birkenhead where he was working as a shipyard labourer. At the same time Frank, his mother Louisa and six of his siblings were still living in Preston at 34 Walker Street. Frank had found employment with the Lancs and Yorks Railway Company as a train reporter. Later information suggests that he was also a well-known local preacher within the town of Preston.

Frank Williams. Photo courtesy of Joan Marshall

Frank Williams. Photo courtesy of Joan Marshall

Frank was still employed on the railways when he enlisted into the 4th Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment in October 1914 and was allocated the service number 2963. He was 5`9” tall and had good physical development. He next of kin were named as his mother Louisa of 31 Lawson Street, Preston and his brothers John William of Pedro De Jujuy, Argentina and Sam of 31 Lawson Street.

On the 4th July 1915 while he was still in England he was appointed to the rank of Lance Corporal. He sailed for France and landed at Rouen with a batch of reinforcements on the 8th August 1915. On arrival he was posted to the 1/4th Battalion and after joining them in the field he reverted back to the rank of Private.

At the end of October 1915 Frank suffered with a bout of bronchitis but he was only away from the Battalion for six days re-joining them on the 5th November. However, on the 6th November he was re-admitted with bronchial catarrh so obviously hadn`t fully recovered and he didn`t go back to his battalion until the 29th November.

On the 29th August 1916 he was admitted again with Pyrexia (fever) and was out of action again for almost a month, he was back with the Battalion on the 25th September 1916. Sadly, just four days later on the 29th September 1916 Frank was killed in action.

His family later provided the following information for publication in the Preston Guardian.frank williams

Extract from the Battalion War Diary

24th September 1916 – Mametz – Church parade. At 4.30pm the Battalion marched off to the trenches and relieved a Battalion of the 165th Infantry Brigade in BROWN TRENCH, in front of DELVILLE WOOD, and close to FLERS.

25th September 1916 – Nothing of importance occurred. Two carrying parties, each of 60 men carried up rations and stores to the units in the front line. Casualties; 1 other rank killed, 5 other ranks wounded, 5 other ranks to hospital.

26th September 1916 – Morning quiet, a few casualties as a result of hostile shell fire. At 10pm the Battalion moved up into the front line and took over from the 1/7th Kings Liverpool Regiment in GIRD TRENCH, close to GUEUDECOURT. Casualties; 17 other ranks wounded, 3 other ranks missing, 2 other ranks to hospital sick.

27th September 1916 – Our artillery very active all day. The 164th Infantry Brigade attacked at 4.30pm, the 8th (Irish) capturing part of GIRD SUPPORT still held by the enemy. The 1/4th LNL was in support, but was not required to give any assistance. In the course of the evening the Battalion relieved the IRISH in the captured trench and also occupied with one company, a sunken road running into GUEUDECOURT. Casualties; 2/Lt R. Forrest (killed), 2/Lt G. Duerden (slightly wounded), 4 other ranks wounded, 2 other ranks to hospital sick.

28th September 1916 – Misty in the early morning. When the mist cleared a large number of the enemy were seen digging trenches in a long line 800-900 yards away from our front line. Rifle and machine-gun fire was opened on them, they suffered several casualties and had to cease work. From 12 noon till 3pm, our trenches and the sunken road held by D Coy were subjected to a very heavy bombardment by the enemy`s artillery. Casualties under the circumstances were very light; 6 other ranks killed, 30 other ranks wounded, 3 other ranks to hospital sick.

29th September 1916 – 1am – The Battalion was relieved by the 10th Royal West Kent Regiment, and, on relief marched into camp at Mametz. At 1.20pm the Battalion marched off from Mametz to billets at DERNANCOURT.

Frank`s body was never recovered from the battlefield and so his name was recorded on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing on the Somme. He is also recorded on the Roll of Honour in the Harris Museum and Library in Preston.frank williams panel

After the war his mother signed for his 1915 Star, British War and Victory Medals.

Rank: Private
Service No: 2963
Date of Death: 29/09/1916
Age: 23
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/4th Bn.

Janet Davis
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