Edwards, Frank G

Frank Graham Edwards, Second Lieutenant, Royal Air Force
Accidentally killed 26th April 1918 in England, aged 19

 

EARLY LIFE

Son of Henry Deakin Edwards and Charlotte Mary Edwards, of 30 Beech Lane, Macclesfield.

 

WWI SERVICE

Frank met his death in an accident when flying over Salisbury Plain. His death was reported in the Macclesfield Times on Friday 3 May 1918:

KILLED – Mr H D and Mrs Edwards, 30 Beech Lane, Macclesfield, were notified on Saturday [27 April] of the death of their son, Flight Lieutenant Frank Graham Edwards, Royal Air Force, which occurred the previous afternoon at Salisbury Plain as the result of an accident. Lieut Edwards was 19 years of age, and was home on leave a fortnight ago. He enlisted from the Macclesfield Grammar School in the Shropshire Yeomanry, and after training transferred to a cadet school of the R.F.C. Making rapid progress, he was soon gazetted and gained his wings. A letter from the Major commanding the station, dated April 27th, states: “Your son was killed yesterday at 5pm while doing aerial firing. This consists of diving at a target on the ground and firing at it. During one of the dives, the tail of the machine broke off in the air, and the machine crashed to earth. He was killed instantaneously. It is impossible to say exactly how it happened, but I think probably he was diving at excessive speed… he was the pluckiest and one of the most promising pupils I have had… After his training here I was going to send him on to scouts, which require men with plenty of nerve, pluck and dash. In every way he set a very excellent example to the other 120 young officers that I have in this station.”

Flight Lieut. Edwards began his education at St George’s School, from which he gained a scholarship to the Macclesfield Grammar School. There he was very popular and had a successful career, having made particularly good progress with languages.

His brother, Jack, is in the Naval Air Service, and another brother, Harry, is returning from Canada to join the forces.

The funeral of the deceased officer will take place at the Macclesfield Cemetery this afternoon [Friday 3rd May].

 The following week, the Macclesfield Times printed a report of the funeral:

The funeral of Flight-Lieutenant F G Edwards, son of Mr and Mrs H D Edwards… took place on Friday at the Macclesfield Cemetery. The coffin was covered with the Union Jack and the cortege included officers of the Macclesfield detachment of the Cheshire Volunteer Regt, the headmaster (Mr F D Evans), members of the staff and a contingent of boys from the Grammar School, where the deceased officer was formerly a pupil. The mourners were: Mr and Mrs Edwards (parents), 1st A-M Jack Edwards (brother), Misses Doris and Mabel Edwards (sisters), Miss M E Edwards, Rev S F Robinson, Mr J Willington and Second-Lieut W Biddulph. The Rev S F Robinson officiated, and after the committal the “Last Post” was sounded by Bugler Parker, of the Boy Scouts. Among the floral tributes were the following: Officers of the RAF, Lake Down Station, Salisbury; the airmen of the 709 Squadron, Salisbury; NCOs and men, RAF Lake Down Station; masters and boys, Macclesfield Grammar School; girls of the Macclesfield High School.

On 4 and 11 May 1918, the Macclesfield Courier also printed reports of 2nd Lt Edwards’ death and funeral:

Mr H D Edwards, jeweller, Mill Street, and Mrs Edwards, of Beech Lane, on Saturday morning received news that their youngest son, Flight Lieutenant Frank Graham Edwards, of the Royal Air Force, had been killed in a flying accident on Salisbury Plain on Friday afternoon at about 5 o’clock. The telegram was borne out by [a] letter, dated Saturday, from Major F R Gordon, commanding the station at Lake Down…  “During one of the dives, the tail of the machine broke off int he air, and the machine crashed to earth… It is impossible to say exactly how it happened, but a Court of Inquiry are doing their best to discover the reason… I cannot express to you how deeply grieved I am”

The funeral of Lt F G Edwards… took place at the Borough Cemetery on Friday afternoon. The body was conveyed by rail from Salisbury Plain and was enclosed in a polished elm coffin with brass mountings, and the breastplate bore the following inscription: “F G Edwards, 2nd Lieutenant, Royal Air Force, died April 26th 1918, aged 19 years.” Prior to leaving the house a short service was conducted by the Pastor of the Roe Street Congregational Chapel (Rev S F Robinson)… The mourners [included] Miss M A Edwards (aunt)… no band or firing party was present by special request…

 

COMMEMORATION

2nd Lt Frank Edwards is buried at Macclesfield Cemetery, Cheshire, in grave ref. P. 13228. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for 2nd Lt Frank Edwards, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.

Locally, 2nd Lt Frank Edwards is commemorated on the Park Green, Town Hall, St Michael’s Church and Macclesfield Grammar School war memorials.

 

NOTES

At the time of writing, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission has incorrectly recorded Frank Edward’s date of death as 3 May 1918, but this was the date of burial. The correct date of death was Friday 26 April 1918, according to the Macclesfield Times.

Brother of Jack Edwards, who served with the Naval Air Service, and Harry (Henry Deakin Edwards junior),who served as Private 3209596 with the Canadian Expeditionary Force, Alberta Regiment.

 

SOURCES

RAF Museum Casualty Cards
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Lives of the First World War website
Macclesfield Times: 
3 and 10 May 1918, 23 September 1921 (photo supplement)
Macclesfield Courier: 4 and 11 May 1918


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