Frank was born in Ilford on 3rd September 1895 and attended Ilford County High School between 16th September 1907 and 28th July 1910. Previously, he had studied at Christchurch Road Elementary School and Tyne Hall School, both in Ilford.
Frank was one of six sons of John and Francis Jones. He had no sisters. His father worked as a warehouse manager and manufacturer’s agent. The family lived at addresses in Belmont Road and Aldborough Road, in Ilford whilst Frank was growing up. According to the 1911 census, the family employed a domestic servant, Ruby Finch.
Frank’s occupation upon leaving school was ‘commercial clerk’ and in 1911 he was working as a drapery assistant.
In 1915, Chronicles records Frank as having joined the 6th Battalion of the London Regiment. His service number was 1975 and by the time of his death on 30th April 1916, he was a sergeant. He is commemorated at Arras Memorial (Bay 9 and 10).
On 7th May 1915, a letter from Frank was published in the Ilford Recorder, thanking those who had sent him cigarettes and describing his experiences at the front:
‘Dear People, I received your parcel and letter last Friday night but could not write before as I have been doing forty-eight hours in the trenches.
The box arrived quite all right and not broken in the least. Thanks very much for its contents, which were very much appreciated, I can assure you. In the trenches I was offered as much as a penny each for the cigarettes. They are so scarce here.
My first experience of the trenches was very quiet and pretty comfortable. We were not shelled at all, but there was plenty of rifle fire. We only did twenty-four hours in the actual firing line and twenty-four in the reserve. The trenches here are well built, being floored with bricks and having plenty of dug-outs. You are supplied with coke and rum is served out every night. Tea you have to make yourself, and also cook your own bacon for breakfast, but stew is brought up for dinner from the rear.
The trench we were in was one of those taken by Mike O’Leary, V.C., and the Irish Guard. It was about 150 yards away from the one held by the Germans, and there were some grizzly moments of the Guards’ charge in between the two lines. I counted about forty blue-grey figures myself through the periscope. The regulars here have a yarn to the effect that the Irish Guards put up a board with “Irish Guards” on it, and then there is nothing doing from the Germans, such is the name they have. I won’t vouch for the truth of the yarn.
Our work in the trenches was very simple. Keep your eyes open and your heads down, and give them one now and again during the night to show them that you are awake.
The regulars here are full of confidence, and are much easier worked than they were. They are all under the impression that it will be over shortly.
The only effect the trenches had on me was a dizziness, no doubt owing to the twists and turns of the communication trenches. Of course before you come to the actual fire trenches there is about a mile of communication trench to go through, and there are so many roads that you could easily lose yourself. Every trench has a name. We had Oxford Street, Bond Street, Conduit Street and tons of others near us. You also get such names as Sniper’s Alley, Judy passage, etc. Three trenches are the extreme right of the British line, and we could go along right into the French trenches.
It is a sad sight to see the way in which the houses and homesteads for miles around have been smashed to pieces. There is not a house with a whole roof on anywhere near the firing line; the fields have great holes in them where shells have fallen. We rested in a smashed-up farm while we were in reserve, and our beds consisted of unthreshed wheat. In the field behind the farm, we came across two dead calves and even the trees have been smashed down. It is wicked!
The regulars here all say that we cannot take La Bas… because the town is full of French refugees, which the Germans keep there as a shield. Of course, we can’t shell the place, so have got to take it by other means.
To get to the lighter side of things. Thanks for putting my name down on the chocolate list. One of our fellows had a parcel from them to-night, and is pretty happy, I fancy.
I still retain my good health and am quite happy under these new conditions. I have come across an old friend down here in the King’s Royal Rifles regulars, in the person of a fellow who lives in Empress Avenue named Reedis.
By the way, I have had another little shift up, as I am now in full charge of a section instead of being under a full corporal. It is the same old tale, “No extra rank, but more responsibility.”
P.S. We are being fed well for soldiers. We even had fried bread, bacon, bread and butter, and Keiller’s marmalade for breakfast this morning.’
Another Old Boy, Corporal Macey mentioned a chance meeting with Frank in a captured German trench in late 1915. They had been in the same Form at school.
He died alongside fellow Old Boy, Sidney Ashton, when a mine exploded under their company on 30th April 1916, killing and wounding a large number of men.
Research by Andrew Emeny, History Teacher at ICHS
ICHS school records and magazines
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
The Ilford Recorder (07/05/1915)
Ilford County High School started life as the Park Higher Grade School in 1901 in Balfour Road, Ilford. It was renamed Ilford County High School (or initially County High School, Ilford) in the years after the school’s management was transferred from Ilford School Board to Essex Education Committee in 1904.