Francis (Frank) Herity, Private 53041, 14th Battalion, Machine Gun Corps (Infantry)
Killed in action 21st March 1918 in France, aged 19
Francis Herity was born in late 1898, the son of Francis Herity, a cotton spinner, and his wife Sarah (nee Jepson), a silk machinist. In 1901, two-year-old Francis was living at 11 Princess St, Macclesfield with his parents. His sister Annie was born on 14 January 1903 and baptised at St Peter’s Church on 21 May the same year.
Sarah died in 1905 and by 1911 Francis (Snr) and his children were living with his mother and her family at 34 King Street, Macclesfield; Francis (Jnr), then aged 12, went to school part-time and was employed part-time in the cotton weaving industry. Francis (Snr) remarried in early summer 1911, marrying Elizabeth Ann Brocklehurst at St Paul’s Church. Francis (Snr) died in 1913, and Francis (Jnr) continued to live with his grandmother at 34 King St.
Like his father, Francis (Jnr) was commonly known as Frank.
On 23 November 1914, when aged just 16, Frank enlisted in Macclesfield with the Cheshire Regiment (Territorial Force) for a term of 4 years, with service number 2996. He overstated his age by two years, presumably because he was keen to serve overseas as soon as possible. Frank was described in his Army records as being 5 feet 3½ inches tall, with a 31 inch chest.
Frank was transferred to the Machine Gun Corps on 10 August 1916 and was sent to Clipstone Camp near Mansfield on 24 October 1916 for training. Frank remained there until 1 November 1917, also spending time undergoing machine gun training at Belton Park near Grantham. Frank’s uncle Arthur Herity was killed in action on 22nd October 1917; the news reached the family in Macclesfield on 17th November and knowledge of his uncle’s death could well have had an influence on Frank’s actions during the next few days.
On 19 November 1917 Frank was found to be absent and he was proclaimed to be a deserter. He was discovered at his grandmother’s house in Macclesfield at 6.15pm on 12th December and escorted back to Belton Park three days later. Frank was taken before a court-martial and sentenced to one year’s detention for desertion, but the Lieut-Colonel of No 1 Battalion, Machine Gun Corps requested that, as he was a fully trained machine gunner, he should instead be allowed to serve with his battalion, going out to the Western Front with the next draft.
Frank was drafted overseas on 13 January 1918, travelling via Folkestone and Boulogne to the Machine Gun Corps Base Depot at Camiers (adjacent to the Army Base Depot known as Etaples) before going to the front. He was reported missing on 22 March 1918 and later presumed to have been killed in action on or after 21 March 1918.
Private Frank Herity has no known grave and is commemorated on panel ref. 90-93 on the Pozieres Memorial, France. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private Frank Herity, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
A descendant of the family, Roger Walker, wrote a song, “The Herity Boys” in memory of Arthur and Frank Herity.
Nephew of Dennis Herity, who served with the 7th Cheshire Regiment and became a prisoner of war after being captured at Cambrai in March 1918; John Herity, who was wounded in action and repatriated to England; William Bowers (husband of his aunt Celia), who was killed in action in 1914; and Arthur Herity, who served with the Cheshire Regiment and was killed in action in October 1917.
GRO (England & Wales) Index: Births, Marriages, Deaths
Cheshire Parish Baptism Registers: St Peter’s Church, Macclesfield
Census (England & Wales): 1901, 1911
WWI British Army Service Records 1914-1920
WWI British Army Medal Rolls Index Cards
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Macclesfield Times: 23 November 1917