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2nd Lt J.C. Frankland of ‘C’ company L.N.L. was in command of the Right column at Prowse Farm in the trench raid at Wieltje north east of Ypres on 10th January 1917 where he was killed in action. His body was never recovered and he is commemorated on the Menin Gate memorial to the missing (panel 41).

Born in 1897 the son of Mrs Elizabeth Frankland of Union Street Chorley Lancashire, and the late John Frankland and a nephew of Coucillor B. Davies of Shaw Street Bolton, John Cecil Frankland was at the start of a promising scholastic career. He won a scholarship to Charterhouse School in London until the outbreak of the war when he went to Sandhurst Military College. He took a Commission but he afterwards enlisted into the Inns of Court O.T.C. and later a 2nd Commission into the L.N.L. Regt. (Officers papers WO/374/25521).

His Medal Index Card for the issue of the British War Medal & Victory Medal shows an initial enlistment as Pte 6180 then to commission in January 1916 the rear of the index card shows his mother Mrs Frankland of Stanley Place Chorley.

He joined the 5th battalion in the field on 30th May 1916 which was then part of the 166th Brigade of the 55th (West Lancashire) Division whilst they were in the trenches at Bellacourt. The battalion was not engaged during the beginning of the battle of the Somme and were mainly employed over the next couple of months on routine soldiering. Officers and other ranks were utilised in large numbers assisting the Royal Engineers with their work. As a very junior officer and taking into account his youth no doubt 2nd Lt Frankland was utilised for this employment.

With the battalion advance from bivouac on 8th August 1916 to the attack on Guillemont, Frankland was ordered to remain in bivouac with the remnants of the battalion. Throughout the next month of September the battalion suffered many casualties, officers and O.R’s from enemy fire whilst being used for salvage work and as burial parties on the edges of Delville Wood after the major battle that had taken place there.

His name does not appear in the war diary from the time of his joining the battalion which unfortunately was to be short, just seven months in total. He had recently turned 19 years of age and was given the opportunity of being officer i/c of the Right party for the forthcoming raid on enemy trenches.
On 9th January 1917 when the raiders and their officers marched to spare land near to Ypres prison and practiced their actions that would be put into effect the next day, they were watched by the Divisional Commander who afterwards expressed his approval of their display the area today is close by the site of the CWGC Ypres Reservoir Cemetery.

On the 10th January 1917 the men, divided into two groups the left and right parties, both had Bangalore torpedoes to cut any obstructing enemy wire. The left party under the command of Lt Robert Keith Makant MC would assemble at 15.00hrs at Lone Farm and the right party under 2nd Lt Frankland at Prowse Farm.
They moved onto to their jump off point a ditch running S.E from Argyle Farm and at 17.15hrs they went over the top and approached the enemy defences with an enemy strongpoint named ‘Kaiser Bill’ to the right front. This strongpoint had been raided just over a month earlier by the Liverpool Scottish on 29th November 1916 who caused much damage, many enemy casualties and took several prisoners. The enemy would know what to expect after any bombardment here and Frankland with his party was immediately met by a heavy machine gun fire and artillery, a single shell accounted for both Bangalore parties of this group as they moved together, all became casualties.

Frankland was killed early on in the attack and the reserve officer 2nd Lt Charles Warburton Whitaker who had also been wounded gave the order to retire as the wire they encountered had not been cut and they no longer had the means to destroy it.

The left party had gained their objective and was successful in their attempts in the enemy trenches though the raid had been costly for the battalion.

Of the officers Frankland had been killed and another 2 wounded, of the other ranks 7 had been killed and 49 wounded with 4 missing believed dead, of the wounded some would later die of their wounds.

His photograph and obituary appeared in the Bolton Journal & Guardian of January 19th 1917.

Menin Gate Memorial

For the Wieltje Trench Raid main index please CLICK HERE.

Garry Farmer
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