FRANK TURNER 

Rank: Private
Service Number: 1657.
Regiment: 1/5th Bn. Cheshire Regiment Killed In Action Saturday 1st July 1916 Age 21County Memorial Congleton
Commemorated\Buried THIEPVAL MEMORIAL
France

Son of Mr. John Turner and Mrs. Emily Turner, of 67, Mill Street, Congleton, Cheshire. He had two sisters, Florence and Edith Turner, along with two brothers, Arthur and Charles Turner. His brother, Charles, was drowned at sea on the 17th of April 1917. Prior to the war he was employed at Messrs' Foden Ltd, Elworth, he also worked as a Cotton Towel Weaver. Pre-War he served in the 1st/7th Battalion, the Cheshire Regiment, enlisting in 1913. He transferred to the 1/5th Battalion in February 1915.

Frank was in an area of the Somme on the 1st of July 1916. The 1/5th Battalion Cheshire Regiment were part of the attack on Gommecourt on the extreme northern flank of the British Army, they were split up among the attacking Battalions of the 169th Brigade, with the task of constructing strong points. The attack involved crossing a wide No Man's Land, no less than 800 yards. It would have been double this, but for a fine piece of work by the 5th Battalion some days earlier in making a new jumping off trench. "A" Company lost all its officers and 130 men. "C" Company had a similar task with the 168th Brigade, but orders miscarried and the Company remained inactive. B Company, under Second Lieutenant J. D. Salmon, had the task of removing barricades and making trench bridges as the attack progressed and carried out all it's tasks. The total casualties were 3 officers and 43 other ranks killed and 5 officers, 154 N.C.Os. and Other Ranks were wounded.
After the failure of the original attack the 58th Brigade was ordered to attack at night, at 22:30 hours and the Battalion was directed to the old British front line from Lochnagar to Inch Str. When the C. O. Colonel Worgan arrived at the front, he found no trace of the Battalion, but was then told that the Battalion had been delayed by finding the communication trenches full of wounded. He then went to find the remainder of his men. From other wounded men, he learned that some 60 unwounded men were holding the Crater where a 600lb mine had been fired just before zero hour on the 1st of July and some 200 more with two or three officers, were holding part of the German front line, all belonging to the 34th Division. It was now 22:40 hours too late to carry out the original plan of attack, especially as the rest of the Battalion could not be found. So, after reporting personally to Brigade H. Q., Colonel Worgan returned to the front line and ordered consolidation to be put in hand at speed. The scene beggared description. Every shell hole held a killed or wounded man. The whole area was littered with all the debris of a battle, with equipment, clothing, timber, stores and dud shells. During the events of this day, Frank in attempting to rescue injured colleagues was killed.

Extract from The History of The Cheshire Regiment. (Colonel Arthur Crookenden).

Private Frank Turner who resided at 67, Mill St, Congleton, Cheshire, a lad of affable disposition and cheerful under circumstances calculated to damp the ardour of the most optimistic, steady and industrious, with an ardent love of home, little wonder that this motherless lad had gathered about him a large circle of friends whose profound sympathy will go out to the bereaved family in their hour of trial. Even in their anguish however the bereaved ones will find solace in the fact that the young soldier gave his life for his friends. Sergeant H. Southern his Platoon Sergeant with that thoughtful consideration which is the most dominating characteristic of our soldiers, sent a letter of condolence to Mr. Turner and family, emphasising the fact that not the least of the heroes is he who goes out to save and dies so that others may live. I may tell you that he sacrificed his life for the wounded writes the sergeant. For it was whilst he was attending them that he was killed. He made four daring rushes into the open field meeting his death on the fourth attempt. He proved himself to be a brave, good, honest and clean soldier and we shall miss him very much indeed. I hope you will accept our deepest sympathy in this time of distress and may my few words comfort you. Young Turner was, as was once observed by one who has since died a soldier’s death, a very taking youngster and this is exemplified in the fact that many soldiers from surrounding districts were chummy with him. Private Clayton of Bollington was one of the many friends of the dead soldier and in a letter to Mr. Turner he says you will no doubt think it strange of me presuming to write but Frank and I were the best of chums and we had been together since we came out here. I was with him when it happened but could do nothing to save him. He gave his life trying to save his comrades. He had succeeded in bringing in four and was trying to bring in another when he met his sad death. If I have the luck to get back I will come to Congleton, then I can tell you more about it. No one will miss him more than l. I send my deepest sympathy to you and hope God will help you in your grief. You can always be proud of him, for he was a good brave soldier and died a hero's death.

Further proof of Private Turner's gallantry is contained in a letter received by Miss. Florence Turner and sent by Private Norman Boffey which is quoted in the following terms. It is with regret that I send the account of your brother's death which occurred on the 1st of July 1916. While attempting to save a comrade he was hit in the neck by a German bullet after saving four comrades. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to you in your grief. He died a hero's death. It is at his request that I inform you his death and I herewith enclose his photograph from his wallet which he instructed me to send to you should anything happen to him. Such noble self-sacrifice brings to mind the following,

Proved beyond the need of proof,
Matched in every clime,
O companion we have lived,
Greatly through all time.


Private Norman Boffey was killed in action less than a year later on the 4th May 1917 while serving with the 1/5th Battalion Cheshire Regiment.





Cheshire County Memorial Project would like to thank John and Christopher Pullen for the information on Frank.
© Cheshire County Memorial Project
2016