Henry Cecil Franks MC                                                                               View PDF


Henry Cecil Franks was born on the 1st October 1897.


He was educated at Manchester Grammar School, and in 1911 he was aged 13 and living at 1 Gardner Road, Prestwich, with his parents Henry John Franks (55, a law clerk) and Clara Franks (55), and his three elder sisters Amie Beatrice (30, an elementary school teacher), Constance Maud (27, also an elementary school teacher) and Ethel Elizabeth Franks (23, a music teacher).


His military service record is at the National Archives, Kew, Ref WO 374/25562 where the following is taken from:


12.06.1915 - Enrolled in 20 Royal Fusiliers (3rd Public Schools) as a Private.

 Next of Kin: Mother, Clara Franks, Hazlewood, Gardner Road, Prestwich.

 Can Ride: Yes

 Medical Category: C1

 Former Occupation: Bank Clerk, and also a theology student prior to war.

Age: 19 years, 3 months (Note he was actually only 17 and therefore underage)

Height: 5ft 7 ¼ inches

Girth: 34 inches

Distinctive marks: Mole, left side of chin


Application form for 20th Bn Royal Fusiliers, 12 June 1915


14.11.1915 - Embarked to France, Part of 19th Brigade, 33rd Division.


The 20 Royal Fusiliers was part of the 33rd Division which fought in the Battle of Albert, 1-13 July 1916, the battle of Bazentin Ridge 14-17 July 1916, and the attack on High Wood, 20-25 July 1916 which were all offensives in the battle of the Somme. The opening day of the battle on 1 July 1916 saw the British Army suffer the worst one-day combat losses in its history, with nearly 60,000 casualties.


Extract from the War diary of the 20th Royal Fusiliers:



Summary of Events and Information



19th Brigade attacks at 3.25am on HIGH WOOD. Attack by 1st Cameronians and 5th Scottish Rifles. 20th Royal Fusiliers in support. 2nd Royal Welsh Fusiliers in reserve. North corner & North west corner of wood not taken. Rest taken and consolidated.

2nd Royal Welsh Fusiliers came up about 12 noon. A front & support line consolidated across wood from East to West.

Held on to position until relieved by 100th brigade at midnight then withdrew to old bivouacking ground at Mametz wood.

Casualties, Lt Col Bennett - wounded.

Killed: Lt Rawson, Lt Palmer, 2nd Lt Price, 2nd Lt Coventry

Missing believed killed: Capt Toller, Lt Wallworth, Lt Evans

Wounded: Capt Hollingworth, 2nd Lt Bell, 2nd Lt Cooke, 2nd t Brooke, 2nd Lt Fabricius, 2nd Lt Ives, 2nd Lt Herbert

Other Ranks killed, wounded or missing: 375




4pm - Withdrew to Buire sur L'Anire


22nd to 31st July 1917

Reinforcements received 2 officers and 701 other ranks. Reorganising & Training.




26.07.1916 - Appointed Lt Corporal


26.09.1916 to 5.10.1916 - Leave to England


23.03.1917 - Transferred to England.


07.06.1917 - Proceed to join No 2 OCB (Officer Cadet Battalion), Pembroke College, Cambridge.


25.09.1917 - Discharged from Royal Fusiliers as received a commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers.


Military History Summary on discharge from Royal Fusiliers:

France: 12.06.1915 - 13.11.1915

BE Force: 14.11.1915 - 23.03.1917

Home: 24.03.1917 - 25.09.1917


Medals: 1914-15 Star,  BW&V Medal


Casualty Form – Active Service of Henry Cecil Franks in 20th Bn. Royal Fusiliers



16.10.1917 - London Gazette - appointed Second Lieutenant, Lancashire Fusiliers.


The 18th Lancashire Fusiliers were part of the 35th Division which fought in the Second Battle of Passchendaele, 26 October - 10 November 1917, which was part of the overall battle of Ypres 1917 (Third Ypres).


Casualty Form – Active Service of Henry Cecil Franks in 18th Bn. Lancashire Fusiliers


10.12-17 - Embarked to France

15.12-17 – Joined Battalion in the Field

16.02.18 -  SW Knee L (Severe wound in the left knee), moved to 107FA and 4GCS.

17.02.18 – Moved to 20th General Hospital

05.03-18 – To England


The 18th Lancashire Fusiliers were involved in a raid on the 15th February against a concrete enemy post at Turenne Crossing on the outskirts of Houthulst Forest. They formed up astride the Aden House to Turenne Crossing road. Zero was 8.30pm. They got through strong enemy wire with the help of a Bangalore torpedo and killed at least 2 and captured 11 of the garrison. The pill-box attacked is described as lying in the angle formed by the road and the railway. There are 2 shown on maps that might be the objective V1.d.10.23 & V1.d.60.70

The casualties suffered were 1 OR missing and 1 Officer (2nd Lieutenant H. C. Franks) and 12 OR's wounded.


War diary Account of raid:



Summary of Events and Information



The Battalion relieved the DLI in front line. One OR killed in action.



Front adjusted to a two Coy front. Quiet.



W Coy relieved Z Coy and X Coy relieved Y Coy. Quiet.



Three officers and fifty OR raided enemy post at TURENNE Crossing under the command of 2 Lieut Franks and Pt Lerleith. Covering party of 10 OR. Result 11 prisoners including one officer. One OR missing. 2 Lieut Franks and 12 OR wounded. 15 OR proceeded on leave to UK.

OR – Other Ranks (i.e. not officers)

Coy - Company


15.02.1918 - Severely wounded in action, near Ypres.


As a result of the raid he received the Military Cross and the citation in the London Gazette, dated 22nd April 1918, pg 4825, is as follows:


T./2nd Lt. Henry Cecil Franks, Lanc. Fus.

 For conspicuous gallantry and devotion

to duty. During a raid on the enemy

posts, although wounded in the knee shortly

after leaving the assembly point, he went

forward, displaying a fine soldierly spirit,

and inspiring his men with confidence. Exposed

to heavy shell and machine-gun fire,

he showed an entire disregard for his own

safety throughout the operation, and remained

behind until the entire party had


Map showing location of raid on Turenne Crossing from Aden House on 15th Feb 1915

Locations in 2010:

Looking towards Turenne Crossing from Aden House – Raid start point.

Looking from Turenne Crossing towards Aden House.

The angle formed between the road and the old railway line is described as the location of the German machine gun pill box and the objective of the raid.




Looking North from the Aden House – Turenne Crossing road towards Houthulst wood which the 18 Bn Lancashire Fusiliers attacked on 22nd October 1917 as part of the battle of Pascendale (3rd Ypres).

The following is the account from the War diary:


"The battalion formed up immediately south of ANGLE POINT , south of Houthulst Wood at 2.30am in close support to the 23rd Manchester regiment on right, 17th Lancashire Fusiliers on left. Battalion advanced headquarters was at EGYPT HOUSE. Formation: X coy on right, Y coy on left of front line. W in support to X coy, Z in support to Y coy. The attack was delivered in four waves.

At zero hour, 5.30am, The Battalion moved off keeping close to our barrage which was found too slow (8 minutes for 100 yards) and in consequence we suffered several casualties. In addition the barrage was very ragged, one shot in four falling short; this was probably due to the bad gun platforms. Lt PRITCETT and BOWERS were conspicuous in their efforts to keep their men back.

Shortly after the attack started the Manchester regiment suffered very heavy casualties and were held up. Our line continued to advance but owing to its right flank being unprotected began to suffer heavy casualties. At about 6.15am Captain M. R. Wood MC who was in command of the two leading companies realised that he had worked too far over to the left, so moved his own coy (x) back a short way and then over to the right in order to gain touch with the Manchester regiment and also to attack the wood from the south. He failed to gain touch with the Manchester regiment but moved forward to attack the wood under very heavy machine gun and rifle fire from his front and right flank. On approaching the wood Lt TORRANCE saw an active machine gun in front of him. He sent his men round each flank and charged the gun himself capturing the gun and team. X coy entered the wood but having their right flank unprotected and being almost surrounded by the enemy were compelled to withdraw to the outskirts."




Trench Map showing Turenne Crossing. Ref National Archives WO 297/639

Trench Map showing Pascal Farm, Egypt House, Angle Point. Turenne Crossing is just off the map on the right where the road and railway cross as per above map. Ref National Archives WO 297/622



Pascal Farm



Egypt House



Menin Gate, Ypres


Inside the Menin Gate.


White cliffs of Dover.







05.03.1918 - Hospital, Liverpool



Following is a transcript of a handwritten letter:

Savoy Convalescent Hospital, Blackpool.

To the Secretary, War Office, London


     2nd Lieut H.C. Franks

        18 Bn Lancs Fusiliers.


   I beg to make application for a wound gratuity, in respect of severe wound received in action on February 11th 1918, near Ypres and  with which I am still incapacitated.

   I have the honor to be


   your obedient servant

    H.C. Franks

     2nd Lieut












He was discharged from the army on 11th June 1919.

Regimental No 20th Royal Fusiliers: 7838

Regimental No 18th Lancashire Fusiliers: PS 7873


While in hospital he met Dorothy Ogden who was a nurse and they married in 1923.



He became a vicar and his parishes included Atherton in Lancashire, Bellingham in Lewisham, Redlynch just north of the New Forest, and Osmington in Dorset.


Crockfords Clerical Register, 1953-54

Picture of Mary Bridge (nee Ogden), her sister Dorothy Franks (nee Ogden), and Dorothy’s husband. Cecil Franks.


Osmington Parish Church, Dorset
He died on the 15th February 1955 aged 57 in a car accident.


His grave is at Osmington Parish Church.

The epitaph reads:


            THE REVEREND













Inside Osmington Church. The brass plaque on the pulpit reads:








Lichfield cathedral, a popular Christmas card from Dorothy Franks

The coast from Osmington Mills






Military service record: Ref WO 374/25562, National Archives, Kew


Military Cross Web Ref:



Battle of Somme:



War diaries at documents online national archives

WO 95/2484

WO 95/2423


1911 Census


20th (Service) Battalion (3rd Public Schools)

Formed at Epsom on 11 September 1914 by the Public Schools and University Mens Force.

26 June 1915 : attached to 98th Brigade, 33rd Division.

Landed in France in November 1915.

27 November 1915 : transferred to 19th Brigade, 33rd Division.

16 February 1918 : disbanded in France.


18th (Service) Battalion (2nd South East Lancashire)

Formed in Bury on 13 January 1915 by Lieut-Col. G. E. Wike and a Committee as a Bantam Battalion. Moved on 8 April 1915 to Garswood Park (Ashton in Makerfield) and in June 1915 to Masham.

21 June 1915 : attached to 104th Brigade, 35th Division.



Author: William Bridge, August 2010