HERBERT FRANCE

Private 18195, Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment)

Died 18th October 1917 aged 22

Buried Wimereux Communal Cemetery, France

Son of John and Mary Ellen France

Lived 10, Birkhead Street, Heckmondwike


Herbert was born in 3rd Quarter of 1895 to John and Mary Ellen nee Tingle.  He had two older brothers, Arthur and Walter and two younger sisters, Hilda and Evelyn.

Arthur and Walter France also saw active service in the Army in The Great War.

Before the war, Herbert was employed as a Clerk at Messrs Burrows at Batley Carr.  He was a gifted musician and played the cello and piano and had travelled through Canada and the United States with a concert party.

He was associated with George Street Congregational Chapel particularly the Young Men’s Bible Class and his name is commemorated on their War Memorial.

In 1916 he moved to Coventry to work in a munitions factory and from there enlisted in the Royal Fusiliers.  He trained in Edinburgh and was sent to the front in September 1916.

As only two men were left out of his original Regiment he joined the Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment) and saw a great deal of active service.  He was wounded in the arm in June 1917 but went back to active service.

His family received a letter from the Matron of the hospital at Bolougne to say he was suffering from gas poisoning and was in a serious condition.  The letter told them if they wanted to see him they must travel to France immediately. His mother set off for Bolougne but when she arrived she was told that he had died 24 hours previously.

Herbert was buried in the Communal Cemetery at Wimereux, near Bolougne, France.

His name is commemorated on the Green Park War Memorial in Heckmondwike as well as St. James’s and St. Saviour’s War Memorials.  As he attended Heckmondwike Grammar School his name is on their War Memorial as well as George Street Congregational Chapel.

He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
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