Private Frances Robert (Frank) GREEN


Regiment/Service:
Sherwood Foresters
(Notts and Derby Regiment)
Unit:
2nd Battalion
Service Number:
14022
Date of Death:
9 February 1917 - Killed in Action
Age:
28
Cemetery / Memorial:
Grave Reference:
V. C. 31.


Personal History:

Frank was born in Buxton on the 8th September 1889, the eldest son of Fred (Lime Burner) and Thirza Annie (née Frost) Green. In 1891 (Census RG 12/2625) they lived at Mill Lane, Hibalstow, Lincolnshire. By 1901 (Census RG 13/3269) the family were back in Buxton, living at Onward Cottages, Fairfield, and Fred was employed in the "Stone Quarry".  Frank had four younger brothers, Fred, Ernest, Charles and Leonara, and a younger sister, Emily.
Like many Fairfield children Francis (Frank) started at North Road School on the 17th April 1893. [There are additional photographs of him, in uniform, outside his School and also the local pub in Frank's entry in "Fallen of Fairfield", page 6].

In 1911 (Census RG 14/21234) the family were still living at Onward Cottages, Fairfield. Frank was employed as a "Mason's Labourer". In the December quarter 1911 he gained another younger brother, Jack. Later the family moved to 1 King's Road, Fairfield, Buxton. In reporting his death, 'The Buxton Advertiser', 3rd March 1917, said that Frank: ".. will be greatly missed in football and golfing circles, where he was very well known".

Military History:
According to the SDGW database Frank enlisted in Buxton, probably on the 1st September 1914 as a soldier with the Regimental No 14023 also enlisted on this date.

Frank's Medal Index Card shows he was posted to The Balkans, 'prior' to 31st December 1915. Unfortunately, none of his Service Papers has survived. It seems that he initially served with the 9th Battalion in Gallipoli and was possibly wounded there as he was later with the 3rd Battalion (a holding/home Battalion) and then posted to the 2nd Battalion in March 1916.

The 9th (Service) Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters had been formed at Derby in August 1914 as part of K1 (Kitchener's First New Army) and became part of 33rd Brigade in 11th (Northern) Division. It was initially stationed at Grantham before moving to Frensham in April 1915. Early in July 1915 the Battalion sailed from Liverpool for Gallipoli, landing near Lala Baba at Suvla Bay on the 7th August 1915. Frank was one of a batch of men sent over replace the high losses of August 1915. On the 19/20 December 1915 the Division withdrew from Gallipoli and moved to Imbros.

                              


On the 26th January the Division left Imbros and landed at Alexandria on the 2nd February,concentrating at Sidi Bishr six days later. The 19th February saw the Division take over a section of the Suez canal defences. On the 17th June 1916 orders were received for a move to France and embarkation at Alexandria was completed on the 3rd July. By the 7th of that month Divisional HQ had been set up at Flesselles. The wording on Frank's Medal Card makes it unclear exactly when he joined his Battalion, which moved to France in July 1916. It is difficult to say whether or not he actually made it on to Suvla, though he had plenty of time between late 1915 and 1917 to get wounded elsewhere. The Brigade diaries do not show any replacements arriving in December although after the Storms at the end of November, the 9th Battalion had casualties of 7 killed, 27 wounded and some missing.

Being posted to the 3rd Battalion does suggest he was recovering, before being posted to the 2nd Battalion at the front. The 3rd Battalion had moved to Sunderland in May 1915 and remained at there as part of Tyne Garrison. The 2nd Battalion had originally landed at St Nazaire on the 11th September 1914, part of 18th Brigade in the 6th Division. On the 27th October 1915 the Battalion transferred to 71st Brigade in same (6th) Division. 'The Buxton Advertiser', 3rd March 1917, reported that Frank had ".. served 9 months in The Dardenelles and 12 months in France".

The first major action of the Division after Frank joined his Battalion in March 1916 was during the Battles of the Somme 1916, and in particular the phases known as The Battle of Flers - Courcelette, 15th - 22nd September; The Battle of Morval, 25th - 28th September, and The Battle of the Transloy Ridges, 1st -18th October 1916.

The Battalion were still in area in the period leading up to Frank's death in March 1917. The History tells us that: "In February some not unwelcome excitement was provided in the form of raid on the enemy's front line. At 7 a.m. on the 9th 'C' Company, about 100 strong, under Major J.P. Wylie, raided the enemy's front line through gaps cut in the wire by our guns, trench mortars and by a 'Bangalore' torpedo, which last had been placed in position and exploded by a part under Second-Lieutenant M.N. Shaw, under cover of a smoke barrage.

……. Part of the enemy's front line could not be recognised, having been obliterated by our shells, but the parties successfully penetrated the German front line for 200 yards, remained there some considerable time, killed and wounded some 60 of the enemy, and bombed and blew up the entrance to some twenty dug-outs.

'The enemy' so the report states, 'showed little disposition to fight.' Eight prisoners were captured and brought back in triumph, four of them wounded, and three being wearers of the Iron Cross; they belonged to the 26th Infantry Regiment, and were for the most part Saxons."

The SDGW database shows that Frank was one of 1 Officer (2/Lt. Godfrey Gordon FURNESS, 3rd battalion, attached to 2nd) and 9 men of the 2nd Battalion were killed in the action described above on the 9th February 1917. They are buried together and lie side by side in Graves V. C. 24 - 33 in Vermelles British Cemetery.

In reporting his death, 'The Buxton Advertiser' quoted a letter sent to Frank's mother by one of his friends, describing the circumstances of his death, as follows:

"I am very sorry indeed to inform you that your son, Frank, got killed in action, and it is just as hard on me to tell you as it is for you to hear, but we all have to go when our time comes. We made a raid on the Germans' front line, and Frank got hit in the heart with a machine gun bullet, but he suffered no pain. He was conveyed to a nice graveyard where other brave British heroes lay."


Sources:
· "The Buxton Advertiser", 3rd March 1917
· "1st and 2nd Battalions the Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment) in the Great War" by H. C. Wylly
   ISBN-10: 1845744241
· I am grateful to The British War Graves for the photo of Frank's grave.
· I am grateful to Martin McNeela for the extracts from the Battalion history, and to Steve Morse and 'Bronno' (GWF) for additional notes.

Link to CWGC Record
Pt Frank Green's grave
Pt Frank Green
poppy
... about the Gallipoli campaign