Corporal Frank STANDBRIDGE


Regiment/Service:
Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry
Unit:
6th Battalion
(Attached: 60th Trench Mortar Battery.)
Service Number:
14932
Date of Death:
31 August 1916
Age:
28
Cemetery / Memorial:
Grave Number:
XXXI. C. 9.


Personal History:
Frank was born in the March quarter 1889 at 24 Villiers Street, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, the son of Charles Frederick (Shoemaker) and Agnes Eliza (née Harris) Standbridge, later of 44 Leicester St., Leamington Spa, Warwickshire. He had an older sister, Muriel D. (1891 Census RG 12/2472) Charles, however, died in 1896, and by 1901 Frank had been admitted to The Royal Orphanage, Leamington (Census RG 13/2672).

In 1911 Frank was residing in Buxton, at 23 Dale Road, boarding in the home of Elizabeth Linaker, and working as a 'Domestic Groom'. (At the same address was Mrs Linaker's son, Archibald Linaker, killed in action in 1918) In a photograph published near the start of the War, 'The Buxton Advertiser' stated that Frank was a member of the paper's staff.
The 'Buxton Advertiser' of the 9th September 1916 reported Frank's death and referred to another former 'Advertiser' employee - 2nd/Lt. William Edward Brunt - calling them: "… bosom friends, in peace and in war … the reflection that two such fine young men, who had the world before them, and a world of promise too, have been so ruthlessly laid low, is grievous indeed." Company Q.M.S.  W. H. Kennerley [see Footnote below], another member of the newspaper staff: "… well remembers the day on which [they] went to the recruiting office and did their duty." [see Footnote below]

Frank's profession: "… took him into spheres not open to most men. It is no boast to say that he was a young man of remarkable energy and one who never knew what it was to have done enough in the interests of the paper on which he was employed.

Physically he was splendidly endowed: be it at football, cricket swimming or running, Frank Standbridge could always hold his own and oftentimes a bit more. He possessed above average abilities of the all-round athlete, and since joining the Army, has given proof of such in long-distance races especially."


Military History:
Frank enlisted at Buxton. Unfortunately, his Service papers have been destroyed during a
Second World War bombing raid. However, a photograph, under the heading "Some Buxton
Patriots", was published in 'The Buxton Advertiser' on the 24th October 1914, showed
Frank in training with his Battalion at Cowshott Camp, near Woking. He joined up at the same
time as William Brunt - September 1914.

[N.B. Also in the photograph was fellow Buxtonian, Private William Henry Kennerley, son of
Thomas and Emma Kennerley of 14 Byron Street, Buxton, referred to in the 'Advertiser'
extract above.]

In the photograph - shown right - Pt. Kennerley is kneeling left, and Frank Standbridge
next to him, kneeling on the right.

Frank's Medal Index Card shows that he entered the War, in France, with the 6th Battalion on the 22nd July 1915, which is confirmed by the Battalion history. The 6th (Service) Battalion, Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry, was formed at Oxford in September 1914 as part of the Army Orders authorising Kitchener's Second New Army, K2, and attached to 60th Brigade in 20th (Light) Division. Before sailing to France the Battalion was inspected by King George V at Knighton Down on 24th June 1915.

"The Long Trail" has this to say about the Frank's early days with the Battalion: "Early days were somewhat chaotic, the new volunteers having very few trained officers and NCOs to command them, no organised billets or equipment. The units of the Division first assembled in the Aldershot area with brigades at Blackdown, Deepcut and Cowshott. Artillery was particularly hard to come by; 12 old guns arrived from India in February 1915! When in the same month the Division moved to Witley, Godalming and Guildford, the artillery had to go by train as there was insufficient harness for the horses. Another move was made, to Salisbury Plain, in April 1915."

After landing in France the Battalion assembled in the Saint-Omer region, before "trench familiarisation" and training took place in the Fleurbaix area. From then on the Battalion remained at the Front for the remainder of the War, beginning with The Battle of Loos, 25th September - 18th October 1915.

Frank was attached to the 60th Trench Mortar Battery which was formed by 16th July 1916 and died on 31st August. Quarter-master Sergeant Kennerley [see above], wrote to 'The Buxton Advertiser' to say that Frank was "… killed in the first line trench at his gun … with his Trench Mortar Battery, to whom he has been attached now some four months. He was buried in a cemetery just behind the line. I am not allowed to tell you where, but I expect the eyes of the world will be on this place tomorrow. A 9.2 shell dropped right into six of them while attending their gun, killing five and wounding one." [Q.M.S. Kennerley is probably referring to the latter stages of the Battle of Delville Wood. The wood was only completely cleared of Germans following the fall of Ginchy on 9 September 1916.]

"It was a great blow to me when I was told for we have been through this campaign together since we came out until he went to the trench mortars. While he was in my platoon I always found him fearless and brave, and always ready for any task put to him. Beloved by the boys, he is indeed a great loss. … never shall I forget him at Loos last September."

On the day Frank was killed in action, Sgt. 11178 W.E. Bennett and Pt. 12751 Thomas Randall Nason, both also of the 60th Trench Mortar Battery, were also killed, possibly all together by the shell fire described above. They rest with Frank in Delville Wood Cemetery.

                                
                                                                                    

Footnote:
· Frank was said to be 'bosom pals' with another Buxton casualty - 2/Lt William Edward BRUNT, k.i.a. 1 July 1916

· Private (later Q.S.M.) 14933 William Henry KENNERLEY joined the same Battalion as Frank, on the same day - as shown by their
   consecutive Service Numbers

Sources:
· Buxton Advertiser 24 October 1914 and 9 September 1916
· I am grateful to Andrew Holmes for the photo of Frank's grave


Link to CWGC Record
Delville Wood Cemetery
Cpl Frank Spencer
Cpl. Standbridge's grave
poppy
... about The Battle of Delville Wood 
... a Map of the Somme Region