Corporal Francis George SPENCER


Regiment/Service:
The King's (Liverpool Regiment)
Unit:
4th Battalion
Service Number:
12067
Date of Death:
28 March 1916 - Killed in Action
Age:
46
Cemetery / Memorial:
Grave Number:
F. 33.
Awards:
Queen's South Africa Medal

Personal History:
Francis (Frank) was born on the 2nd November 1869 at Little Bolehill, Wirksworth, Derbyshire, the son of Anthony (Lead Miner) and Hannah (née Greatorex) Spencer, later of Stonehouse Cottages, Harpur Hill, Buxton. He had seven older brothers and sisters, Frank, William Henry, James, Harriett, Ellen, Richard and John Walker, and two younger brothers, Albert Edward and Alfred. (1871 Census RG 10/3594 and 1881 RG 11/3455)
In 1881 the family had moved to Haslan House Cottage, Harpur Hill, Buxton, and father Anthony was employed as a Quarryman. Frank was educated at Fairfield Endowed School.

On the 3rd July 1897 Francis married Ellen Wilshaw, at St John's Church, Buxton. Frank does not appear on the 1901 Census (RG 13/3269), presumably because he was in South Africa fighting in The Boer War, with the 1st Battalion, The King's (Liverpool Regiment). Ellen was living at 1 South View, Fairfield, with their daughter, Violet, and her son, Frank Wilshaw, aged 7. Also living with them was Frank's widowed father, Anthony

In 1911 (Census RG 14/21236) the family were back together living at 14 Hogshaw Villas, Buxton, having had five more children, Mabel, Nellie, Ethel, Edward Anthony and Bessie. The Census also names Frank Wilshaw as a 17 year old son, presumably Ellen's from before her marriage to Francis. After the war Ellen moved to live at 2 Ashton Street, Merefield, Rochdale.

In reporting his death on the 8th April 1916, under the heading "A Lovable Man Who Could Be Trusted", 'The Buxton Advertiser' confirmed that Frank had a wife and 6 children aged between 6 and 16 years, living at 14 Hogshaw Villas, Buxton. Before joining up Francis was still working as a "Quarryman" at Buxton Lime Firms Company, at Ashwood Dale Works. It further reported that their eldest son, also Frank, was serving with the 6th Battalion, Sherwood Foresters, in France. [see Footnote below]

Military History:
Frank had originally enlisted in the 1st Battalion, Liverpool Regiment, at the age of 18 and served in the South African (Boer) War and was awarded the Queen's Medal with four clasps (1901; Belfast; Laings Nek and Cape Colony).

Frank voluntarily re-enlisted at Buxton on 13th September 1914.  Unfortunately, his Service papers have been destroyed during a Second World War bombing raid. His Medal Index Card shows that he entered the War, in France, with the 4th Battalion on the 4th March 1915 and landed at Le Havre and attached to Sirhind Brigade, Lahore Division of Indian Corps.

On the 10th November 1915 the Battalion transferred to 137th Brigade, 46th (North Midland) Division and again on the 3rd December 1915 were attached to 56th and 58th Brigades, 19th (Western) Division. On the 27th February 1916 Frank's Division transferred again to 98th Brigade, 33rd Division.

Frank fought at the Battle of Neuve Chappelle, and was wounded at Ypres on 26th April 1916, being shot in the left shoulder. He was killed in action on 26th March 1916, originally buried in the "Chateau Cemetery". (Cambrin Military Cemetery is often called Cambrin Chateau Cemetery) One other man of the 4th Battalion, King's Regiment, was killed on the same day, Private 8381 F. Fraser is buried near to Frank, in Grave F.17 of Cambrin Cemetery.

The following letter was received by his wife on the 7th April 1916 from "… somewhere in France":

"Dear Mrs Spencer, - I feel I must write and convey to you my sincerest sympathies in the loss you have sustained by the death in action of your husband. We here in the Company, the other officers and especially his Platoon Officer, Lieutenant Mason, all miss him very much. He was a really lovable man and could always be implicitly trusted to do his best at any piece of work entrusted to him. As a non-commissioned officer he was invaluable to us.

It may be some small consolation to you to know that his death was instantaneous, and that no better death could be desired - for his died serving his Country and doing his duty as he always did. Again assuring you and your little children of our deepest sympathy.

Believe me, yours sincerely
Allan J. S. Simmance, Captain
Commanding 'B' Company, 4th The Kings."

[N.B. Captain Allan James Spencer Simmance, 'B' Company, 4th Battalion, was killed in action on the 18th August 1916. He is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.]

Footnote:
· The Buxton Advertiser reported that Francis' son, Frank, [presumably Frank Wilshaw] also served with the 6th Battalion, Sherwood Foresters.
   He served as Pt. 1935 Frank Spencer, enlisting in the Territorial Battalion on 19 May 1913. He served in France from 18 March to 9 August
  1916, and was discharged at the end of December 1918.

Sources:
· Buxton Advertiser, 8 & 15 April 1916 and 29 June 1918
· De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour, Vol. 3, page 254


Link to CWGC Record
Cpl. Frank Spencer's Grave
Cpl Frank Spencer
Queens South Africa Medal (4 clasps)
poppy