The Men from Hyde – Frank Dunn

Frank Dunn was born in 1878 in Sturry, Kent. His parents, John and Harriet (nee Buss) married locally a year before his birth. John was a tea dealer (grocer) all his life.

In the 1881 census John (32) and Harriet (26) are living at the Old Mill in Preston, Kent, with 2 year old Frank and a baby. It seems they are living with John’s brother, Henry, a master corn miller, and his young family.

In the 1891 census, the family is back in Sturry; Frank is now 12 years old and has 5 siblings.

In the 1901 census, John and Harriet are still living in Sturry with their 3 youngest children. Frank has now become a “boot salesman” in Windsor, Berkshire.

In 1902 Frank’s younger sister Nellie married Arthur Thomas Verrall in Blean (Sturry).

In 1905 Frank Dunn married Elizabeth Emily Digby in Winchester. He was 27 and Elizabeth 24. Unfortunately it is not clear what brought them both to Winchester.

In the 1911 census Frank, now 32, is a “boot maker (dealer)”. Elizabeth is 29 and states that she has been married for 5 years and has had 2 children, both of whom are still living. The couple are living at 6 Arthur Road with Euginie (sic) aged 4 and Sydney aged 1. Elizabeth’s younger sister Amy (17) is visiting.

On 25th November 1915, at the age of 37, Frank enlisted in the army. Fortunately his service records exist. His occupation is given as boot shop manager. He is 5’ 8¾“ tall. Frank states that he married Elizabeth Emily Digby on 27th August 1905 at Hyde Church, Winchester (ie St Bartholomew) and has 2 children: Winifred Eugenie born 5th October 1906 and Frank Sidney born 8th May 1909, both born at 6 Arthur Road.

His medical history record taken on the same day states that Frank’s physical development is “fair”.  His eyesight is very good and he has been vaccinated as a baby.

Frank enlisted in the 15th (Reserve) Battalion London Regiment and was given the regimental number 535043. The following dates are noted from several documents:

  • Attested – 25.11.15
  • To Army Reserve – 26.11.15
  • Mobilized – 15.02.17
  • Posted (1/15 London Regt) – 15.02.17
  • Embarked at Soton – 24.06.17
  • Disembarked at Le Havre – 25.06.17
  • Posted with 1/15 London Regt at Base Depot Havre – 24.07.17
  • Posted (2/12 London Regt) – 11.08.17

Frank Dunn fought at the Third Battle of Ypres (also known as Passchendaele) from 31 July – 10 November 1917. The offensive began with encouraging gains but terrible summer weather soon bogged it down. By August the offensive was clearly failing in its objectives. New techniques by both sides led to agonisingly slow forward movement for the British, at enormous cost in casualties to both sides.

Frank Dunn’s Regiment, the 1st London Regiment, took part in the following battles at Passchendaele:

  • The Battle of Langemarck, 16 – 18 August 1917
  • The Battle of the Menin Road, 20 – 25 September 1917
  • The Battle of Polygon Wood, 26 September – 3 October 1917

Frank Dunn was reported missing on 26th September 1917, at the start of the Battle of Polygon Wood. His service record states: “Officially accepted as Killed in Action” on the same day.

The service records note that by August 1917 Elizabeth had moved from Winchester to 1 Renilford Road, Balham, London, to be near her sister Amy.

Elizabeth was awarded “a pension of £25 5s a week, for herself and two children, with effect from the 27.05.18.”

On 18th June 1919, Elizabeth signed the form which lists all living relatives:

  • Widow: Elizabeth E Dunn  –  186 Cavendish Road, Balham
  • Children: Eugenie W b Oct 1906  –  ditto
  • Frank S  b [08.05.]1909  –  ditto
  • Father: John Dunn  –  Sturry nr Canterbury
  • Mother: Harriet Dunn  –  ditto
  • Full blood brother:  Sydney Dunn, age 37, 12 Bouverie Road, Folkestone W
  • Full blood sister: Nellie Verrall, age 40, 28 New Street, Westerham [Kent]

Frank’s mother Harriet Dunn died at Blean (Sturry) the following year (1920), aged 66.

On 13th December 1921 Frank’s wife signed for British War and Victory medals for Private F Dunn, 15th Bn London Regt.

Frank’s sister Nellie Verrall (nee Dunn) died in 1922 at Westerham (Sevenoaks), aged only 41. His brother Sydney Dunn died in 1931 at Elham (Folkestone), aged 48.

Frank’s son Frank Sydney Dunn died in 1972 in Taunton, aged 63. Frank’s wife Elizabeth Emily Dunn died in the same qtr in 1972 in Brighton, aged 91! There appears to be no information about Eugenie Winifred’s whereabouts.

Elizabeth’s sister, Amy Digby, remained in London, dying in 1974 in Hammersmith, at the age of almost 80.

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