Frank Kaye


Corporal 21/507, Prince of Wales's Own (West Yorkshire Regiment)

Died 20th May 1918 age 25

Buried at Gonnehem British Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France

Son of Henry and Esther Kaye

Lived 8 Park Rd, Jeremy Lane, Heckmondwike

Frank was born late in 1892 at Barnard Castle, County Durham. He was baptised at the Parochial Chapelry, Barnard Castle, Durham, on 4 November 1892. Frank was the second son of Henry Kaye. Henry was born in Millbridge in Liversedge in 1857. Henry was the son of Richard Kaye from Hepworth near Holmfirth; Richard was described as a Coal Miner. Henry married Esther Greaves who was born in Leeds in 1859. They married at St Peter's Church, Birstall on 23 December 1876. Henry, a bachelor, was described as a Carpet Weaver. Henry's father Richard was by now a Pit Sinker - a highly skilled man who 'sank' (i.e. dug) the shafts for coal mines. Skilled sinkers were in great demand and moved from colliery to colliery to dig shafts. Esther's father, Thomas was a Carpet Weaver.

Frank's father, Henry died in 1901 leaving his mother, Esther, a widow, she was working as a Char Woman. In the 1911 census the family were: Esther (aged 50), Jesse Kaye (aged 21), who was a Rug Loom Tuner, Frank (now aged 18) was at this time a Piecer Rug Maker, he joined together of pieces of threads, as in textile work, Nellie (aged 16) a Cotton Winder, Edith (aged 8) was at school. Living with the family was a boarder, Herbert Bruce (aged 41 and married), he was a Horse Keeper at a dye works. They were living at 6, Carr Street, Heckmondwike. The census form was completed by Jesse.

Frank joined the Prince of Wales's Own (West Yorkshire Regiment), about Christmas 1915 and served in the 21st (Service) Battalion (Wool Textile Pioneers). The Battalion was formed in Halifax on 24 September 1915 by the Lord Mayor and City of Leeds. The Battalion moved to Skipton in February 1916 and in June left for France. They were designated as a Pioneer Battalion, part of the 4th Division. His Service Number was 21/507.

The Battalion of 30 Officers and 1007 other ranks went by train to Southampton on June 14th 1916. They sailed from Southampton on two ships: The Courtfield and The Marguerite. The ships were of the Arabis class and were the third, and largest, of the five sub-classes of minesweeping sloops completed under the Emergency War Programme for the Royal Navy in World War I. They were part of the larger "Flower Class" shipbuilding project, which were also referred to as the "Cabbage Class", or "Herbaceous Borders".

On June 19th 1916 the Battalion left from Le Havre for the railhead at Belle Eglise; there they were involved in road building and digging trenches as part of the build-up for the Battle of the Somme.

Frank's Battalion were in the region of Pacaut Wood in May 1918 and there were two deaths recorded in the battalion war diary of 20 May 1918 one of which could be Frank. The record of his medals, Victory and British, records the date of his death and the legend killed in action. His rank at the time of his death was Acting Corporal.

Frank is buried at Gonnehem British Cemetery, where there are 198 graves. The cemetery is near Bethune in Pas de Calais in France and his grave reference is D. 21. Frank is on war memorials at St James' and on the St Saviour's one.

Mrs Esther Kaye was living at 8 Park Road, Heckmondwike, when she received a letter telling her of the sad death of her son, Corporal Frank Kaye, aged 25, whilst engaged with the enemy. The letter said that Frank had died whilst carrying out his duties and that he was killed instantaneously without any pain. The letter was written by a Lieutenant who described Frank as an excellent NCO and in every way a good soldier. His funeral was performed by a Church of England padre in an authorised British Cemetery. Frank died the day after sending a card to a friend saying that he was well. He was described as a man esteemed by a wide circle of friends and acquaintances and had proved himself a worthy soldier. Before the War he had been a scholar at St James' Sunday School and had worshipped there prior to joining the army. At the time of enlisting he was working at Messrs Sharpe's Dye Works - in the war this became a munitions factory and was where the terrible explosion occurred in August 1916.

Frank's brother Jesse was serving in Egypt. Private Ellis, Frank's brother-in-law, was George Washington Ellis, he had enlisted in Birstall into the 10th Battalion, Prince of Wales's Own (West Yorkshire Regiment), on 26 April the Commanding Officer noted that, in the period 10 to 25 April 1917, 5 officers and 38 other ranks were killed - George was one of these. He like Frank was awarded the British War and Victory medals. Jesse had married Matilda Griffiths in 1912 and he survived the war and lived until 1965. He too was awarded the British War and Victory Medals. Esther Kaye continued to live at 8, Park Road and she was listed in the register of electors in 1921; she died in 1934.{KW-079}

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