Chatteris WW1 Soldier Frank Wheeler (L/7766). Chatteris Remembers Biography
Lance Corporal Frank Wheeler L/7766 1st Bn The Buffs (East Kent Regiment) Died 15 September 1916 Frank Wheeler was born in Chatteris on 2nd August 1886. Frank was the youngest son of William and Susannah Wheeler who ran the Old Ship Inn on Chatteris High Street and before that lived in Black Horse Lane when William was a farmer. Frank was a reservist before the war but Frank went to visit his sister, Florence in Sevenoaks, Kent and while there he enrolled at Canterbury into 1st East Kent Regiment (Buffs). Frank went to France with his Battalion on 11th November 1914 and fought near Ypres in 1915 before moving down to the Somme in 1916. Frank was killed in action on 15th September 1916, during the third phase of the Battle of the Somme. His Battalion were to attempt to capture the Quadrilateral, a complex of German trenches which had impeded the advance of troops for several weeks. Frank’s Battalion were in the 16th Brigade who were on the right flank of the attack. An article in the Cambs Times recounts a letter from one of Frank’s comrades. “ On the morning of Spet 15th, in connection with the great advance, the battalion was ordered to take the second line of German trenches. The front line should have been taken by another regiment but owing to the heavy gunfire from the enemy that battalion failed to reach their objective owing to great losses on their ranks. Under the impression that the first line was taken we set forth to take the second line and like others before us we were held up in the same way. I was with Frank during the whole time the advance was in progress and owing to heavy casualties through shell and machine gun fire we sought shelter in a shell hole and it was in that same hole that poor Frank met his death. We had been in the hole half an hour, during which time we were watching for the signal to advance again when a sniper who had evidently been watching our movements fired and hit Frank in the left eye by an explosive bullet which proved fatal. He did not suffer for his death was instantaneous. He was buried on the next day. I learnt from my comrades that he was buried with other comrades near Ginchy.” This was the first time that tanks were used but unfortunately two broke down and one had to turn back so they were of limited use. Frank’s grave was lost so he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the missing. Thanks to Susan Jones for photos and information. Project File contains: • CWGC certificate • 1901 Census • Soldiers Died • Photograph of remembrance silk (from Susan Jones) • 3 photos of Frank Wheeler (from Susan Jones) • Photograph of Frank and 2 sisters (Bertha and Susanah) (from Susan Jones) • Photograph of name on Thiepval Memorial • Cambs Times 13 Oct 1916, 17 Nov 1916, 20 Oct 1916
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