Frank Leonard FOX
Rank: Gunner
Number: 160539
Date of Death: 3 September 1918
Age: 36
Cemetery: Daours Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, France

Little is known about Frank’s life and family background. He was born in Heaton Chapel in 1882 and is known to have had a brother, two years older, called Theophilus Curtis Fox and their father is thought to have had the same names. The family history website, FreeBMD, records the marriage of a man of this name in the Hull area in 1867 and this may be their father.

Theophilus, senior, died in 1910 aged 64. His death was registered in the Fylde area but, at the time of the War, Frank is known to have been still living in the Stockport area. His brother does not appear to have served with British forces and it is possible that he had already emigrated to South Africa where, in the early 1920s, he was known to be living at Christiana, Transvaal.

71st Heavy Battery was a prewar unit of the Regular Army but Frank was not a professional soldier. His service number indicates he enlisted sometime after the War started and will have been assigned to the Battery as a replacement for casualties.

Few day-to-day records remain of the RGA units and it is not possible to know the circumstances in which Frank came to receive his fatal wounds. As suggested by the name, the Heavy Batteries fired the most powerful guns in the armament of the Royal Artillery and were situated some considerable way behind the front line. Their role was to batter enemy defences and strongpoints and they were formidable fighting units. This meant that they were always targeted by the German heavy artillery in an attempt to knock them out. Most artillerymen were killed in these counter-bombardments. Frank is known not to have been killed outright but was badly wounded, probably on the day he died or the day before. He was evacuated to one of the field hospitals then based at Daours where there was nothing military surgeons could do to save his life.

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