Frank Shepherd, Rifleman B/2905, C Company, 7th Battalion, Rifle Brigade
Killed in action 25th August 1916 in the Somme, France, aged 23
Frank Shepherd was born on 5 March and baptised on 8th March 1893 at St Nicholas Church, Norton by Malton, North Yorkshire, one of twin sons of Ellen and Thomas Shepherd, a coachman of Macclesfield. Ellen was from Norton and had married Thomas there two years earlier; it’s likely that she returned to her family for support during the birth of her first child.
In 1901, eight-year-old Frank was living at The Lodge, Park Mount, Ivy Road, Macclesfield, with his parents, twin brother Samuel (8), and younger sister Emma (5). His father was coachman to Josiah Smale who lived at Park Mount.
Frank was educated at the Crompton Road Day School, where he attained standard grade V, and attended the Sunday School there. On 22 September 1908, when he enrolled at Macclesfield Technical School to further his education, Frank was living at 9 Ivy Lane and employed as a telegraph boy.
By 1911, eighteen-year-old Frank was boarding at 116 Lees Street, Higher Openshaw, Manchester, and was employed as an engine cleaner. By the beginning of the Great War, he had worked his way up to the position of fireman with the Great Central Railway.
Frank enlisted in Manchester on 1st September 1914 with the 7th Battalion of the Rifle Brigade, which came under command of 41st Brigade in 14th (Light) Division. On his service records he stated that he was a fireman, lived at 22 Welbeck St, Gorton, Manchester, and had previously served with the 7th Cheshire Territorials but his service was ‘time-expired’. He was described as 5 feet 9 inches tall, weighing 137 pounds with a 35 inch chest, brown hair and brown eyes.
Frank was sent to Aldershot for training, where he was reprimanded on three occasions for smoking on parade, being absent from tattoo, and for not being shaved on church parade. He was drafted out to France on 19 May 1915, crossing the channel to Boulogne on the SS Queen. The Battalion gradually proceeded across France and Belgium towards Ypres, where Frank was slightly wounded at Railway Wood, near Ypres, on 19 October 1915.
Frank was able to return to Macclesfield for a few days during his furlough at Easter 1916.
By August 1916 the Battalion was in trenches west of Delville Wood, near Longueval in France. They were relived at midnight on 19th August by the Glasgow Highlanders and marched to Montauban, where they spent the next few days either resting or participating in a working party on the front line. On 25 August the Battalion relieved the 8th Rifle Brigade, with B company in the front line, C company in support and A and D companies in reserve. During this process, three men were wounded and three killed, one of those who lost their lives being Rifleman Frank Shepherd. Unusually, the battalion war diary lists the names, ranks and numbers of those killed and injured, and brief circumstances: Frank Shepherd was killed by a shell (his name is spelled Sheppard, but all other details are correct).
His death was reported in the Macclesfield Times of 29 September 1916:
CROMPTON ROAD LOSS – FORMER TERRITORIAL’S SACRIFICE
Official intimation… has been received to the effect that Rifleman Frank Shepherd, of the Rifle Brigade, was killed in action while fighting in France on August 25th.
The deceased soldier was a promising young man of 23 years of age. He was a native of Macclesfield and was educated at the Crompton Road Day School and attended the Sunday School there. He had served four years in the local Territorials prior to the outbreak of war, and re-enlisted on September 1st, 1914. Private Shepherd was drafted out to France the following May and was over on furlough last Easter. Prior to enlistment, he was employed as a fireman on the Great Central Railway at Manchester. The deceased soldier’s brother offered his services to his country but was rejected.
His death was also reported in the Macclesfield Courier of 23 September 1916:
PRIVATE F SHEPHERD KILLED
Mr T Shepherd, of 81 James St, Macclesfield, has received official intimation… that his eldest son, Private Frank Shepherd, has been killed in action in France. Private Shepherd was 23 years of age, and he enlisted on September 1st, 1914, and was drafted out to France with his regiment, the 7th Batt Rifle Brigade, the following May. Last April he was home for a few days furlough, since when he has been in France. He was in the big “push,” through which he safely passed… Prior to enlisting he was employed as a fireman on the Great Central Railway at Gorton.
Rifleman Frank Shepherd has no known grave and he is named on Pier and Face 16 B and 16 C of the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Rifleman Frank Shepherd.
Twin brother of Samuel Shepherd, who served as Private L/13681 with the 21st Lancers at Meerut in India and survived the war, re-enlisting for two years with the Royal Tank Corps in October 1919.
FindMyPast: Yorkshire Baptisms (St Nicholas’ Church, Norton juxta Malton)
Census (England & Wales): 1901, 1911
National School Admission Registers and Log-books: Macclesfield Technical School
WWI British Army Service Records 1914-1920
WWI British Army Medal Rolls Index Cards
WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium, Germany), 1914-1920: 7th Rifle Brigade
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Macclesfield Times: 29 September 1916
Macclesfield Courier: 23 September 1916