FRANK WALKER 1895 – 1916

18442 Private F. Walker, 1st Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment died of wounds 4 June 1916 and is buried at Corbie Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, France.[1]  He was 21 years of age and is commemorated on the Eldon War Memorial and the Eldon Memorial Cottages.

Family Details

Frank Walker was born January 1895 [2] to Frank and Catherine S. Walker.  There were 4 children, all born at Eldon Lane, near Bishop Auckland:

  • Joseph William bc.1884
  • Tom bc.1888
  • Frank born 1895
  • Harry bc.1899

In 1901, the family lived at 24 Paddy’s Row, Eldon Lane near Bishop Auckland.  40 year old Frank worked as a plasterer and his 17 year old son Joseph was a plasterer’s apprentice.[3]  Catherine Walker died in 1904.[4] In 1907, Frank married Sarah Walton[5] and by 1911 they lived at 14 David Terrace, Coronation, South Church, Bishop Auckland by which time Frank was a bricklayer.  Frank’s family 16 year old Frank was a miner and 12 year old Harry was at school.  Sarah’s son 24 year old John, his wife, Mary Jane and their daughter 1 year old Annie and her 27 year old son Thomas lived with them.[6]

25 July 1914:  Frank married Mary Hunter and she gave birth to a son, Tom 12 August 1914.  They lived at Paddy’s Row, Eldon Lane, Bishop Auckland.[7]

Service Details

5 January 1915: Enlisted into the Yorkshire Regiment and given the service number 3/19467.  Details confirm that Frank was 20 years old and was slightly built at 5’7” high, weighing 120lbs.  He was married to Mary (nee Hunter) and they had a son, Tom.  The family lived at 9 Paddy’s Row. He worked as a coal miner.  He joined at Richmond, Yorkshire and signed up for the duration of the war.[8]

4 May 1915: Transferred to the East Yorkshire Regiment and given service number 3/18442.

14 July 1915: Entered France joining the 1/East Yorks.

4 June 1916:  Died of wounds at the 5th Casualty Clearing Station having sustained a gunshot wound to the head.

1/East Yorkshire: 6th Division 18th Brigade.

The Ypres Salient

The 1st Battalion, The East Yorkshire Regiment (The Duke of York’s Own) went to France with 18th Brigade, 6th Division, joining the BEF at the Battle of the Aisne. In November 1915 it was transferred to 64th Brigade, 21st Division with which it remained for the rest of the war on the Western Front. [9]

Private Frank Walker entered France 14 July 1915 when the 6th Division was stationed on the Ypres Salient, Belgium.  The 18th Brigade then comprised:[10]

  • 1st Battalion, the West Yorkshire Regt.
  • 1st Battalion, the East Yorkshire Regt.
  • 2nd battalion, the Sherwood Foresters
  • 2nd battalion, Durham Light Infantry
  • 1/16th London Regiment

Throughout the war there was heavy fighting around Hooge as the Allies, particularly the British, defended the Belgian market town of Ypres.  At Hooge, some 3 to 4 miles to the east of Ypres stood the Hooge Chateau, the home of the de Vinck family, which became the HQ of Allied forces during the First Battle of Ypres, October 1914.  The ruins of the chateau were fought over continuously and in June 1915 it was in German hands.  A British attack was planned for 19 July 1915, preceded by the detonation of a 2200kg mine, which until that point was the largest blown on the western front. The 175th Tunnelling Company undertook this work.  The British managed to take the crater formed by the mine explosion but advanced no further.  [11]

The German counter-attack of 30 July 1915 saw the introduction of a new weapon, the flamethrower. (Flammenwerfer) The British were beaten back and mounted another offensive 9 August 1915.

The 6th Division was given responsibility for the attack:  [12]

“The relief was carried out on the 2nd & 3rd August 1915 and on the 6th the Division took over its front of attack and the preparatory bombardment was commenced…………..

The attack was launched on the 9th August at 3.15am on a front of about 1000 yards – the 18th Infantry Brigade (Lt.-Col. FW Towsey) attacking on the right with the 2nd DLI in front line and the 2nd Sherwood Foresters in support…………………………………………

The attack was completely successful; all objectives were quickly gained………………

The troops of the 18th Brigade held on to their positions with their usual gallantry and determination, in spite of very heavy casualties.  The 2nd DLI particularly distinguished themselves by the tenacity they displayed, and they and the 2nd Sherwood Foresters and 1st East Yorkshire Regiment suffered severely………….

The casualties were 70 officers and 1700 other ranks…………………………………..”

The 1/East Yorks was involved in the action which confirms that the 1/East Yorks was required for bombing parties and reinforcements: [13]

“Carrying Parties. One coy. E. YORK. REGT. provided carrying parties.  Each party was made to (sic) 35 men for carrying bombs, sandbags and SAA. Parties were started at 5 minute interval to carry to the dump at the top of S2 – the first party started up at 3.40am………………………………………………………………….

5.10am.One coy E.YORK REGT was ordered by 18 Inf Brig to reinforce….”

The 1/East Yorks performed other duties: [14]

“ The 1/East Yorkshire Regiment was detailed to provide 2 “Battle Police” posts, one at the western edge of Maple Copse and the other at the RE Dump in Sanctuary Wood; their task was to prevent any stragglers leaving the battle.  Any prisoners taken were to be given a small escort to Zillebeke and handed over to a detachment of the Northampton Yeomanry who would escort them back to the rear area.”

There were 2 experiments carried out in this action:

  • The Advance Brigade HQ was allocated a portable wireless to communicate with Divisional HQ – unsuccessful (no reason given).
  • The issue of steel helmets to some of those involved – unsuccessful due to the troops being shot at by their own side since the shape of the helmets was unfamiliar in the dark.

Two Military Crosses were won by officers of the 1/East Yorkshires: [15]

  • Captain Alfred A.C. de Lafontaine whose cool and devoted bravery saved the situation in a critical moment of the attack
  • Second Lieutenant Cyril J. Huntriss who, acting as battalion grenadier officer, led 4 bombing parties up to the assault position with the greatest of daring. Captain C.J. Huntriss, MC Mentioned in Despatches was to be killed 1 July 1916 on the opening day of the Battle of the Somme.  He was 23 years of age and has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing.

Four Distinguished Conduct Medals were as awarded:

  • Lance Corporal R. Pearce, who was in charge of the East Yorkshire bombing party which cleared the communication trench and reached the crater
  • Sergeant H. Jameson, Corporal G. Desborough and Corporal J. Beaton all of whom behaved with outstanding courage and ability either in bombing work or the repairing of telephone wires under fire.

Later research records that 62 Other Ranks serving with 1/East Yorks were killed in action or died of wounds 9 – 11 August 1915. [16]

The Divisional History summarises the attack as follows:

“Attack on Hooge by 16th and 18th Infantry Brigades – infantry moved close up under barrage, which remained on support trench 5 minutes longer – attack successful but right suffered very heavily from shelling from south and fire from east.”

It is highly likely that Private Frank Walker would have been involved in this action.  He survived although at least 62 of his battalion comrades did not.

The Division was relieved 19-20 November and went to Houtkerque and Poperinghe.  Nevertheless, working parties for divisions in the line were provided from the ranks.

1/East Yorkshire: 21st Division 64th Brigade

The Somme

26 November 1915:  The 1st Battalion, the East Yorkshire Regiment left the 6th Division to join the 64th Brigade, 21st Division.  Other units in the 64th Brigade were: [17]

  • 9/King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
  • 10/King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
  • 14/Durham Light Infantry
  • 15/Durham Light Infantry

Presumably, the 1/East Yorkshires joined the Brigade to reinforce it after the losses inflicted during the Battle of Loos, 25 September 1915.

At that time other Brigades in the Division were the 62nd (12 & 13 Northumberland Fusiliers, 8/East Yorkshires and 1/Lincolnshire Regiment) and 63rd (8/Lincolnshire Regiment, 8/Somerset Light Infantry, 12/West Yorkshires, 10/Yorkshire & Lancashire Regiment & 4/Middlesex.)  It should be noted that there was a great deal of movement with units and full details are available from the following reference.

The Division was involved in the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 1 July 1916 – the worst day in the history of the British Army.  However, Private Frank Walker died of wounds 4 June 1916, some 2 weeks before the start of the bombardment of the German lines.

Later research records 2 Officers and 21 Other Ranks serving with the 1/East Yorkshire died on 4 June 1916. [18]  The circumstances of their death have not been researched but it would seem that the battalion was involved in some exercise for such high casualty figures to be suffered.  Artillery bombardment was the greatest cause of death during WW1 – perhaps the battalion was subject to heavy artillery fire.  Further research is required. [19]

Private F. Walker was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War and Victory medals.[20]

Burial [21]

Private Frank Walker is buried at grave reference 1.A. 18 Corbie Communal Cemetery Extension.

Commemorations [22]

Eldon War Memorial:  The memorial is located in St. Mark’s Churchyard and was unveiled 24 September 1921 by Lord Gainford and dedicated by the Bishop of Durham.

Eldon Memorial Cottages: A pair of semi-detached cottages were built as homes for disabled soldiers and thereafter for elderly miners.  They are located to the northeast of St. Mark’s Church.  There are 3 plaques, 2 plaques record the names of 74 servicemen who lost their lives and the 3rd plaque is inscribed:

“These cottages were erected by Messrs. Pease and Partners Ltd

As a memorial to the workmen of Eldon Colliery

Who fell in the Great War

Opened by Lord Gainford September 24th 1921”


[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] Family details

[3] 1901 census

[4] England & Wales Death Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.42 Auckland 1904 Q3

[5] England & Wales Marriage Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.397 Auckland 1907 Q3

[6] 1911 census

[7] Family details

[8] Attestation Form

[9] www.wartimememoriesproject.com/greatwar/allied/eastyorkshireregiment1.php

[10] www.1914-1918.net/6div.htm

[11] https://inventaris.onroerenderfgoed.be/woi/relict/2046

[12] “A Short History of the Sixth Division” Major-Gen T.O. Marden (1920).

[13] “Sanctuary Wood & Hooge” Nigel Cave (2002) includes details which seem to be from the 2/DLI War Diary

[14] ”The Steel of the DLI: the 2nd Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry at war 1914-1918” John Steel 2009

[15] “The Great War: A History” edited by FA Mumby

[16] Soldiers Died in the Great War

[17] http://www.1914-1918.net/21div.htm

[18] Soldiers Died in the Great War

[19] There is no Divisional History for the 21st Division.  References are the 21st Divisional War Diary ref: WO95/2128-2134; the 64th Brigade War Diary ref WO95/2154-2156 and Wyrall E. “The East Yorkshire Regiment in the Great War” (London Harrison 1918).  To date, these sources have not been researched

[20] Medal Roll

[21] CWGC

[22] NE War Memorial Project


WALKER F.  Headstone


WALKER F. Headstone Alf Teesdale

WALKER F. Headstone
Alf Teesdale

Eldon War Memorial

Eldon War Memorial

WALKER F. Eldon War Memorial

Eldon War Memorial