1918-2008: Ninety Years of Remembrance

Soldier Record

Frank Wakeman

Contributed by: Diane Hanmer, on 2008-11-08

No portrait available
Rank
First Name Frank
Surname Wakeman
Year of Birth 1898
Year of Death 1916
Regiment Somerset Light Infantry
Place of Wartime Residence Bristol, Bristol

Frank's Story

Frank Wakeman as he was known was my father's eldest brother he lied about his age and fought in the first world war from the start aged just 16 when he joined up.

My father was only nine years of age when Frank went away to war but he always recounted how when Frank was home on leave once he heard him crying out in his sleep, no doubt reliving the horrors of what he had already seen.

He returned to the front and never returned home. My grandparents and his siblings only knew that he had died they knew nothing else about it. My father often said he wished he knew what happened to Frank.

After my father's death in 1987 I found out about the War Graves Commission. I wrote to them with the information I had and they informed me that my uncle was a private in the 1st Bn. Somerset Light Infantry and that he died on 1st July 1916. Also that he was commemorated at Thiepval Memorial, Pier and Face 2 A.

I decided to go to France and Belgium to visit the 1st world war graves and found my uncle's name on Thiepval Memorial. As his name was high up on the memorial I was unable to take a picture of it but a man who was on the same trip took it for me with a much better camera, he later sent me a copy in a frame. I was very touched at his kindness.

I found visiting my uncle's resting place very emotional, he was just aged 18 when he was killed on the first day of the Somme. I knew I was the first person in the family to find where he was and felt as if I was doing it for my grandparents, my Dad and his brothers and sister. I found the whole very moving. All those young men cut off in their prime.

I have never lived through a war or experienced first hand what it must have been like for those that did. My father served in the Royal Navy in the sedocnd world war and I am so proud of him too.

I think that no one should ever forget them they died for us and in the most horrific of circumstances.

I am proud of all those who fought in both the first and second wars and of all those who suffered so that we might live in peace.

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