FRANK REDHEAD

Drummer 19498, 15th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment

Died 4th March 1917 aged 28

Buried at Brown’s Military Cemetery, Festubert,

Husband of Lilian Redhead

Lived 115, High Street, Heckmondwike


Frank was born in 1888, the eldest son of James Arthur Redhead from Leeds, a “Clicker” in the boot trade, and his first wife Eva Smith of Victoria Street, Cleckheaton. His mother, Eva died in 1900 aged 36, and by 1901 James’s unmarried sister Emily was living with them at Occupation Lane, Staincliffe, to help with bringing up Frank and his brother Herbert. In 1905, James Arthur married Eliza Sophia Kenning from Ossett. Frank was educated at Healey Council School and then apprenticed to Mr Wormald, an Outfitter of Market Street, Heckmondwike.

The family were living at 115 High Street, Heckmondwike by 1911 when James Arthur was a Confectioner, his wife Eliza and children, Frank aged 22, a Shop Assistant in a Gents Outfitters, Herbert aged 21, a Plasterer, and young daughter Annie. Frank was living and working in Warrington when he married Lilian Thomas on the 21st April 1913 at St. Mary’s Parish Church, Kippax. He spent a total of five years in Warrington where their son George Edward was born in 1914. They moved back to Yorkshire when Frank was then engaged by Mr T. Armstrong as the Manager of the Outfitters Department on Daisy Hill, Dewsbury.

Prior to enlistment in the Royal Worcester Regiment as a Drummer on May 24th 1915, Frank was a member of the Dewsbury Military Band and often assisted at concerts given at Beck Lane Working Mens Club in Heckmondwike. He was connected with Upper Independent Chapel and was at one stage a Teacher in the Sunday School.

Frank is first mentioned in the Upper Chapel, Active Service Magazine Issue No.5 July 1916, as Bandsman Frank Redhead, 4th Royal Warwickshire Regiment, Sandown Barracks, Isle of Wight. A note in the magazine from Frank dated October 1916 reads “F. Redhead expected to get to France last month. He has had a good time on the Isle of Wight, the band with which he is connected having playing engagements in different place daily.” In the November and December 1916 issues Frank is still on the Isle of Wight.

The Upper Independent Chapel, Heckmondwike, Young Men’s Guild, began the monthly production of the “Active Service Magazine” in 1916 to pass news from and about active service members on their “Roll of Honour”. The editors asked ‘if soldiers would communicate with the member of the Committee who posted them a copy of the magazine, immediately they were removed to fresh quarters so they could easily be kept in touch with everyone”.

The 15th Battalion was formed in December 1916 and Frank was posted to France on 16th December 1916. The February 1917 issue of the Chapel magazine says Frank is in 10 Platoon, C Company, 15th R. W. Regt. BEF France and a message from Frank says "that he is now right amongst the 'whiz-bangs', and not half! They are getting very good food and a clean change every week." In the same issue his brother Private Herbert Redhead of the 25th Northumberland Fusiliers says that he is "in hospital in Hardelot, Boulogne and will probably have to undergo an operation".

The April Issue of the Chapel magazine had a photograph of Frank under the heading  “R.I.P. The horrors of war has again been driven home to us with the loss of one of our brave lads, Bandsman Frank Redhead, who was killed in action in France, on 3rd March. The sacrifice we are making, the price we are having to pay is heavy and we can only pray that God will help us bear the burden. A memorial service was held at the church on Sunday afternoon, March 18th conducted by our pastor.

A letter to his wife Lilian, from the Platoon Officer, says: “I cannot speak too highly of his excellent conduct and his faithful devotion to duty. Always cheerful and high-spirited he was ever ready and willing to do all that was asked of him. I assure you that both officers and men feel his loss greatly”. The Leeds Mercury newspaper reported on 17th March 1917 that “Bandsman Frank Redhead of Barber Street Dewsbury has been killed in France. He was the son of Mr J. Redhead, Grocer, of High Street”.

Frank’s wife Lilian was living at Field House, Kippax and his parents in Heckmondwike at the time that his Commonwealth War gravestone was erected at Brown’s Military Cemetery and engraved ‘TO MEMORY EVER DEAR’.  His grave is
Headstone 256 Plot 111 Row A Grave 2.

The Cleckheaton Advertiser and Spenborough Times records that Frank’s younger brother Private Herbert Redhead of the Northumberland Fusiliers had only just returned to the front line when Frank was killed after having been in hospital for five weeks in France. He was later wounded in fighting during the Easter week in 1917 being moved to York to recover and given an opportunity to visit home. However, he was again in hospital by December, in the Merry-Flats Hospital, Govan, Glasgow and took no further part in the war, being unfit, he was awarded a silver war badge.
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Medals: Victory and British.
Commemorated: Upper Independent Chapel Memorial. Heckmondwike Vellum Roll and Green Park Memorial.

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