Frances Geoffrey SINKINSON
Rank: Lieutenant
Number:
Unit: 2nd Battalion TANK CORPS
Date of Death: 8 April 1918
Age: 20
Cemetery: Gent City Cemetery, Belgium

Frank is the only known child of Frank and Mary Sinkinson, originally of Oldham. The couple had married there, at St Mark's Church, Glodwick in 1895 and, when the census was taken in 1901, were living at 126 Greengate Street. Frank had been born on 21 December 1897 and would enjoy a middle class lifestyle. His father was a successful commercial traveller, his income allowing the family to employ a live-in servant, Louisa Moreton. It would also provide for Frank to be educated at Worksop College - a boarding school then known as St Cuthbert's.

He was a member of the school's Officer Training Corps and continued with this interest whilst attending Manchester University. Frank was a short man, even for those days, standing at 5' 3" but he was a fine athlete both at school and university. It's not known if he had completed his degree when he enlisted into the army, as a private, on 12 May 1916. He was assigned to the King's Own (Royal Lancaster) Regiment and given 33690 as his service number. However, his services weren't immediately needed and he was posted to the reserve and was not mobilised for training until 31 January 1917. The family had moved to "Monksfield" in Lytham but Frank lived locally at 7 Brownsville Road, Heaton Moor. This was the home of Harry Johnson, possibly an uncle on his mother's side.

Effectively still in civilian life, Frank applied to become an officer on 9 December 1916 and, as with many middle class young men, the application was quickly approved. He expressed a preference for the Motor Machine Gun Corps. This was the forerunner of the Tank Corps and Frank will have heard of tanks going into action for the first time in history in the middle of the previous September. He joined No. 2 Officer Cadet Battalion at Pirbright on 1 February 1917 and was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant on 26 July.

He stayed in the UK for several months before leaving Folkestone to go on active service on 17 January 1918 but was further retained at base camp in France until 10 March when he finally joined the 2nd Battalion. He would be dead in less than a month.

On the 21st, the Germans launched an expected major attack on the British lines. What was unexpected was the strength and ferocity with which it was delivered. Within hours, many Tommies were dead, wounded or prisoner. Many more were fighting a desperate retreat along miles of the front line.

Orders came to the 2nd Tank Battalion at 3pm on the 22nd.They were to deploy near the French village of Beugny, about three miles away, to try to prevent the Germans making a further breakthrough. The vehicles were slow moving in those early days and it was over an hour before the first machine was in action. Another 24 joined shortly afterwards.

The Colonel commanding the Battalion later wrote "A tremendous concentration of machine gun fire was opened on the tanks of "B" Company as soon as they were perceived by the enemy and shortly after a barrage was put down which accounted for a number of tanks. The appearance of the tanks of the other two Companies round the ridge from the west seems to have taken the enemy by surprise and these tanks did great execution........During the action there was a considerable concentration of hostile aircraft and about 20 enemy planes swooped down over the tanks firing at them....Of the 25 crews or 175 men who went into action 100 became casualties and of the 25 officers, 18 became casualties."

Frank's tank was one of those had been hit. He was badly wounded. The tank driver later wrote that Frank's right foot had been "blown off". The driver had dressed the wound and stayed with him until captured by the Germans. He felt that Frank was well "in himself" and felt sure he would get over his wound. Frank was operated on at a German field hospital and his foot and part of his leg were amputated. He was then evacuated to a military hospital at Gent, where complications set in and he died of pneumonia a few days later. A copy of the death certificate issued by the German authorities is included in his service file at the National Archives.

   
           
   
     
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