Frank Leonard Geeson

Frank Leonard Geeson
Born in 1894 in St Ives, Frank was the third eldest of nine children born to Frank and Clara (née Watts). Frank's father was the Relieving Officer, Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages, and Vaccination Officer for the St Ives Union Workhouse. He was also a prominent member of St Ives Bowls Club. The family home was at Penge Villa, Crown Walk, St Ives. All nine children still lived at home at home in 1911. Frank worked as a draper's assistant.

At some point Frank made a significant career move to work for Hitchcock & Williams, fabric manufacturers, at their 'exhibition salons' in St Paul's Churchyard, London. He also lived in St Paul's Churchyard, most probably in accommodation provided by his employers.

Frank enlisted in 1914 at Kensington, London, into the 1st/13th Princess Louise's Kensington Battalion, London Regiment. He departed for France in November 1914 and was involved in several serious battles throughout 1915.

On Saturday 1 July 1916 the Battle of the Somme commenced. Although lasting to November, the casualties suffered on that first day made it the bloodiest in the history of the British army. Enemy trenches were pounded by artillery for seven days beforehand, but the Germans weathered the onslaught in deep, concrete reinforced shelters.

British soldiers at the Battle of the Somme, going over the top to slaughter
At 7.30am the bombardment stopped. The German artillery inflicted heavy casualties as shells hit the crowded trenches. Walking across the few hundred yards of no-mans's land a slaughter ensued, the soldiers hit by machine gun and artillery fire. Mown down in their thousands, the attack came to a standstill.

Those who did approach the German trenches found the barbed wire intact. Attempting to get through, soldiers got tangled in the wire. Hanging helplessly, their bodies jerked wildly as they were riddled by Germans bullets. Survivors sought cover and at night crawled back to their own lines.

Of the 100,000 British forces, 54,470 were casualties, of which 19,240 were killed. In just twelve hours. The French were more successful and gained three square miles for just 1,590 casualties. The Germans lost up to 12,000 that day. The war diary for Frank's Battalion details the desperate situation that existed.

Frank was one of those who died on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, aged 22yrs. He has known grave and is commemorated at Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France. He is one of 72,000 men commemorated who died at the Somme and have no known grave.

Frank's elder brother Syd also served at the Front. He was wounded and wrote home about his experiences, published in the Hunts Post of 28 September 1917.

Do you have a photograph of Frank or any additional information? If so, please get in touch via the make contact page.

Source materials
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