Private Frank FINLOW


Regiment/Service:
Manchester Regiment
Unit:
17th (2nd City Pals) Battalion
Service Number:
33626
Date of Death:
8 May 1917 - Died of Wounds
Age:
30
Cemetery / Memorial:
Grave Reference:
P. II. L. 75.

Personal History:
Frank was born in the March quarter 1888, the son of Isaac (Joiner) and Martha Ann (née Poyser) Finlow [Findlow in Census returns) at Hill Top, Burbage. (1891 Census RG 12/2779). He had two older brothers, Thomas Poyser and Clifford, two younger brothers, Fred and Harold, and a younger sister, Alice. In 1901 (Census RG 13/3271) the family had moved to Axe Edge End, Burbage. By 1911, after the death of Isaac in the March quarter 1907, the younger children were living with their widowed mother at 3 New Cottages, Ladmanlow, Burbage, Buxton. (Census RG 14/21239)

By 1911, however, (Census RG 14/2167) Frank was lodging with the Donaldson family at 34 Sudbury Street, Queens Park, Manchester and employed as a "Monumental Mason".

In reporting his death 'The Buxton Advertiser', on the 19th May 1917, stated that up to his "joining the Colours" he had been living in Manchester for some years and was employed at 'The Chronicle' Offices. He had been living at 34 Sudbury Street, Harpurhey, Manchester. In his will he left his mother effects to the value of £125 6s. 6d. (£125.325)

Military History:
Frank enlisted into the Manchester Regiment in Manchester. Unfortunately, his Service Papers have not survived, nor does his Medal Index Card give any suggestion as to when he attested, except that he was not posted overseas until after 1915. (He did not qualify for the 1914-15 Star Medal.)

The 17th (Service) Battalion (2ndCity) had been formed in Manchester on 28th August 1914 by the Lord Mayor and City and in April 1915 placed under command of 90th Brigade in 30th Division. On the 6th November 1915 the Battalion landed in France, so clearly Frank must have joined later as replacement or reinforcement. Without his Service papers it is impossible to say when Frank joined his Battalion, however, by comparing the Service Number of other men of the Manchester Regiment it would suggest that he enlisted in November/December 1915. This being the case, Frank may well have arrived in time to take part in The Battle of Albert, 1st - 13th July 1916, the opening phase in the Battle of the Somme.

In 1917 Frank's Battalion was in action in both The First (9th - 14th April) and Second (23rd - 24th April) Battles of the Scarpe, phases of the Arras Offensive 1917.

'The Buxton Advertiser', 19th May 1917 reported that Frank's mother has received a letter from the sister-in-charge in The No. 1 Australian General Hospital, Rouen, informing her that he died of wounds received in action. Frank's ".. leg had been amputated before arriving at that hospital, and he suffered from shock, from which he died. Everything possible had been done to save him."  

It is probable that Frank received his wounds in his Battalion's attack of 23rd April 1917
at Cherisy. This was at the start of the Second Battle of the Scarpe (23rd -24th April 1917).
The Battalion does not appear to have been involved in any other major action where he
could have been wounded until early June.

"The Battalion left St Amand at Noon on the 18th April 1917, arriving at the Hindenburg
system of trenches near Neuville-Vitasse at 4.00am on the 19th. The following day the
17th relieved a Battalion of the London Regiment in the hurriedly dug trenches in front
of the Villages of Heninel, and facing Cherisy.  The continuance of the Arras offensive
was due to start on the 23rd and prior to this the Battalion suffered heavy casualties
caused by heavy shelling.

At 4.45am on the 23rd, the Battalion moved forward ready for the assault.

The men spent the next few hours digging themselves in, but at 9.00 a.m. the Enemy
launched a counter attack of great violence which was repulsed with great gallantry and
the position maintained. At 2.00 p.m. a further attack was launched and the Battalion
suffered many casualties. At Midnight, the Battalion was relieved, having paid a heavy
price. Out of 650 men who went into the assault, 360 Men were killed, wounded or reported
missing.

The Regimental Sergeant Major, R.S.M Coates performed excellent work during the assault, repeatedly bringing in wounded Men under shell fire, organising the defence of the front line trench and finding cover, in a shell hole for the mortally wounded Lieutenant Potts. The remnants of the Battalion marched back to the Hindenburg line near Neuville-Vitasse, remaining there until the 27th when a move to Billets at Hericourt took place." (The Officer named here is Lt. Geoffrey Fildes POTTS)

The No. 1 Australian General Hospital, where Frank died of his wounds, was located in Rouen and he is buried in the Cemetery near to where he finally succumbed.

Sources:
· I am grateful to Paul Le Trevier for the photograph of Frank's grave.
· I am also grateful to Robert Bonner of The Manchester Regiment Forum, for information on the Battalion's action on 23 April 1917
· I am also grateful to Peter & Marco (An Unfortunate Region) for the map shown above
· "Sixteenth, Seventeenth, Eighteenth and Nineteenth Battalions the Manchester Regiment 1914-1918" by Committee Regimental Committee
   ISBN-10: 1845741536

Commemorated on:
The Brandside Memorial [name shown as 'FinDlow']
Link to CWGC Record
Pt Frank Finlow's Grave
Map of Battalion's Attack 23 April 1917
The area over which the attack was to take place, the blue line being the objective.

poppy