Corporal Frank MIDGLEY (George Francis M.)

Manchester Regiment
1st/7th Battalion
Service Number:
(Formerly: Private 3925)
Date of Death:
28 September 1918 - Died of wounds
Cemetery / Memorial:
Grave Number:
XV. A. 4.

Personal History:

Frank was born in the September quarter 1896 at Eccleshall, Sheffield, the son of George William (Joiner) and Elizabeth Midgley, who in 1901 were living at 4 South Avenue, Buxton (Census RG 13/3269)
By 1911 (Census RG 14/21243) they had moved to 8 Torr Street, Buxton. He had an older brother and an older sister, Arnold James and Maggie, and two younger siblings, John William and Florence. In 1911 he was working as an "Apprentice Hairdresser".  In 1913 the family moved to Didsbury and were recorded after the War as living at "Ellan Lea," 35 Barnford Rd., Didsbury, Manchester.

When reporting his death, 'The Buxton Advertiser' (19th October 1918) stated that Frank's two brothers, Arnold James and John William, were also serving with His Majesty's Forces. [see Footnote below]

Military History:
Frank's Service Papers have not survived the Second World War bombing. It is known that he enlisted at Manchester (SDGW database). Frank has two Medal Index Cards, his earlier card, showing him as "Private 3925" indicates that he entered 'The Balkans' on 29th October 1915. A second Card, issued after the Army Council Instruction (ACI) 2414 of 1916, shows his new six figure number which became effective on 1st March 1917.

Territorial Battalions of the Manchester Regiment, soldiers had always been issued with four figure service numbers which were unique only within the regiment. As the army expanded it was decided to renumber the terriers with six figure service numbers, these would still be regimental but gave a much wider range.

The 1/7th was a Territorial Force Battalion and in August 1914 were based Burlington Street, Manchester as part of Manchester Brigade, East Lancashire Division. In company with the 1/5th on 25th September 1914 they landed at Alexandria, Egypt. On the 6th May 1915 the Battalion landed on Gallipoli.

On the 26th May 1915 they became 127th Brigade, 42nd (East Lancashire) Division. Presumably, Frank joined the Battalion there on 29th October as part of a reinforcement attachment. On 28th December 1915 the Battalion was evacuated from Gallipoli, landed on Mudros and proceeded to Egypt. On 2nd March 1917 they landed at Marseilles and proceeded to the Western Front.

The Battalion War Diary for the day Frank died records that they were in the Riencourt/Warlencourt area, on the 27th September they assaulted the Hindenburg Line, the wire was 20 feet wide and the strong German defences on the high ground at Beaucamp were able to pour fire into the Battalion. Of the 450 men and 16 officers, only 150 men and 4 officers came through untouched, Frank Midgley and Private Harry Williams died of wounds in the casualty clearing station the following day and Private George Wakefield died of wounds on the 29th. The Battalion had 60 dead that day, but without the tank support it could have been worse. (Both are buried with Frank in Grevillers Cemetery.)

The Map (right) shows the positions of Frank's 127th Brigade in preparation for
the attack on the Hindenburg Line on the morning of the 28th. The divisional front
line was covered by the 125th brigade on the right and the 127th brigade on the
left, with the remaining brigade in support. Led by the 5th Manchesters, the plan
consisted in capturing the German front line which ran chiefly along Chapel
Wood Switch, and were to be taken by the leap-frog method by companies.

This portion of the German front line was heavily defended by large numbers of
troops, extensive trench systems, dug-outs and wire, and it was the strategy of
Marshall Foch to concentrate his artillery here. Records show that on the two
days September 27th and 28th shells were consumed at an unprecedented rate.

The Battalion History (see below) records that the night attack was a success.
The Germans were evidently demoralised and put up no fight at all, surrendering
in large batches without firing a shot when Frank's Battalion arrived at their dug-
outs, so that the Blue Line was made good before dawn.

The following Special Order of the Day indicates the value of the work done by the Manchesters in this day's fighting :-

"29th September, 1918.

MANCHESTERS, For the second time in this month of September you have struck the enemy a heavy blow. It has brought us appreciably nearer to the complete victory which our country is determined to achieve. I do not yet know the full amount of our booty. It can be estimated from the two miles of our advance, and from the prisoners, considerably more than a thousand in number.

I wish to record my admiration for the splendid behaviour of all ranks. The victory was won under conditions of exceptional difficulty, and, as at Villers-au-Flos, against an enemy superior in numbers to the attackers; and it was won. by the magnificent determination and devotion of the troops.

ANTHONY HENLEY, Brig.-Gen., Commanding 127th Inf. Brigade."

When reporting Frank's death, 'The Buxton Advertiser' (19th October 1918) under the heading: "Pte. F. Midgley Succumbs to Wounds", read: "Mr and Mrs Midgley, of Didsbury, have received official news of the death of their second son, Pt. Frank Midgley, of the Manchester Regiment, from wounds. He will be remembered by many Buxton people having been employed here.

Deceased joined the Colours in 1915, proceeded to Egypt, and took part in the Dardenelles Campaign. Later he was transferred to France, and was home on leave some three weeks since. A letter was received from the Chaplain containing the sad news and adding that his remains were interred in a military cemetery."

Frank's older brother, Lieutenant Arnold James Midgley, R.A.F., had enlisted first with the Liverpool Regiment (Private 53007) before transferring to the Manchester Regiment. Whilst with the Manchesters he was recognised by his C.O. for good work and was sent home for a Commission. Arnold was Commissioned 2nd Lieutenant on the 27th June 1917. His final transfer was to the newly formed Royal Air Force - presumably after 1st April 1918, when it was formed from the Royal Flying Corps. He was Gazetted 11th November 1918 as an Observer Officer and remained in the RAF until 30th April 1923.

Frank's younger brother, Pt. 202505 John William Midgley, also enlisted with the Manchester Regiment, and was wounded twice. After he recovered he returned to France by the same boat that brought his brother, Frank, home on leave. (see above) It seems that although they missed each other on the boat, they did meet up later in France.

· I am grateful to 'Mack' and 'Tony' of The Manchester Regiment Group Forum for the information from the War Diary and Service Numbers.
· I am also grateful to Grant Tobin and British War Graves for the photos of Frank's grave.
· "The Buxton Advertiser" - 19 October 1918
· "The Seventh Manchesters, July 1916 to March 1919" - A.J. Wilson (1920) p. 127 - 133 [ Available online ]

Commemorated on:
Link to CWGC Record
Cpl Midgley's Grave
... about the 1/7th Battalion, Manchester Regiment