Frank Helm, 2nd Lt, 8th Battalion, Manchester Regiment
Killed in action 4th June 1915 in Gallipoli, Turkey, aged 34
Frank Helm was born on 8th December 1880 and baptised on 26th February 1881 (at the same time as his older brother Sidney) at St Peter’s Church, Levenshulme, Lancashire, the son of Mary and John Strickland Helm, a salesman and calico printer. The 1881 census, taken a few months after Frank was baptised, showed him at 268 Stockport Road, Levenshulme with his parents and older siblings Minnie (2) and Sidney (1), and one servant. Ten years later, the family had moved to 15 Tatton Road N., Heaton Norris, and Frank had four younger siblings: Dorothy (9), Mary (7), Frederick (3) and Margery (8 months); clearly the family had gone up in the world as they now employed two servants.
Frank was educated at Manchester Grammar School.
In 1901 John Helm was a master calico printer and had his own company. Sidney and Frank were both employed as ‘order clerk to calico printer’ – no doubt all working for their father – and the family had moved to Holmlands, Wood End, Styal. By 1911, the family had moved again, this time to a large sixteen-roomed house, Lindfield, in the Fulshaw Park area of Wilmslow, Cheshire. Sidney and Frank were both still order clerks, while Fred was a cotton spinning mill manager. None of the children, whose ages ranged from 20 to 32, were married, and the family employed a live-in cook, housemaid, parlourmaid and kitchen maid to help run the house.
John Helm later moved to Keisley, Parkfield Road, Knutsford.
Frank joined his territorial regiment, the 8th Manchesters, very soon after the start of the war and on 10th September 1914 they departed from Southampton to the Mediterranean, eventually arriving for duty on Cyprus on 21st October 1914. The movements of the Battalion during 1914 and early 1915 can be read in a personal diary on the Manchester Regiment website.
The Battalion returned to Egypt in early 1915 and at 9pm on 3rd May 1915 they left Alexandria on the “Ionian”, bound for Gallipoli, landing at W Beach, near Helles, on 7th May 1915. Frank was killed in action just one month later on 4th June.
On 3rd June 1915 the Battalion took up its position at Krithia Nullah in preparation for an attack the next day. The Battalion’s war diary reads:
4th June 1915: Final preparations for attack. The artillery commenced heavy bombardment of enemies trenches in our front at 11am and ceased at 12 noon when the attack was launched. A & B Coys first line, C & D Coys 2nd line. A & B Coys to occupy main Turkish Trench (1st objective) which they were successful in carrying out. C & D to go over 1st objective and occupy 2nd objective, which was high ground overlooking 1st objective. They succeeded in getting to their position; in this they were assisted by A & B who went forward with them. They held on to their position, all day being heavily counter-attacked. Owing to the right of our attacking line not going as far as our Brigade, the 7th Bn. on right was compelled to fall back on 1st objective and each Battalion fell back in succession, to the main Turkish trench which was held & consolidated.
The Bn. suffered heavily, losing the undermentioned officers:
Killed – Lt-Col W G Heys; Captains Oldfield, Rose; Lieuts Helm, Heywood, Marsden, Womersley, Hall, Ingram; also Captain Talbot 1st Lancs Fus attached.
Wounded – Capt Bluton, Capt Lings; Lieut Wallwork, Railton, Bluhm, Murdock; Capt Bird (1/8th Lancs Fus attached).
Out of 17 officers in action 9 were killed, 7 wounded; 1 only remaining.
5th June 1915: All Battns. of Brigade somewhat mixed up in firing line…. It was impossible to ascertain the casualties….
7th June 1915: … Result of action 4th – 7th June. Killed 10 officers, 58 men; wounded 7 officers 123 men; missing 57 men.
Frank’s death was reported in the Wilmslow Advertiser of 11th and 18th June 1915. His name also appeared in the Roll of Honour on page 119 of Ulula, the Manchester Grammar School Magazine for June 1915.
2nd Lt. Frank Helm has no known grave and is commemorated on panel ref. 158 to 170 of the Helles Memorial, Turkey. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for 2nd Lt. Frank Helm, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
Locally, 2nd Lt. Frank Helm is commemorated on the Wilmslow (Mill Street), Wilmslow (St John’s Church, Lindow), and Handforth (St Chad’s Church) war memorials.
Elsewhere, he is commemorated in the Manchester Grammar School Memorial Hall and Book of Remembrance.