Private George Henry Frankland

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A coloured image of a British soldier wearing uniform and a forage cap on one side of his head.

Private George Henry Frankland

Early life:

George Henry Frankland was born during the second quarter of 1919 in Keighley to John Edward and Annie Elizabeth Frankland, nee Manning. He was the oldest of at least six children. His siblings were Priscilla (1925), Agnes (1926), Harry (1929), Bernard (1931) and Henry (1932).

His father was described as a moulder at the time of his marriage to Annie.

At the time of the 1921 census George was two years old. As the 1921 census took place on 19th June it could be assumed he had been born in late May or early June 1919. He lived with his mother who worked as a twister at J. Denby, Worsted Spinners at Greengate Mills in Keighley. His father was not at the property at the time of the census. George and Annie lived with Annie’s parents, Henry and Ada, and her siblings.

A cropped image of a page from a census with details about George.

Two year old George Henry Frankland shown on the 1921 census

George got himself into a spot of bother in May 1939 when he and another young Keighley man were arrested for an attempted break in at a lock up in Guiseley. After spending a week on remand when his father refused to pay £5 bail, he was sentenced to a year of probation.

At around this time he was working for Irving Firth & Co. Ltd as a mill hand.

We have not been able to locate him on the 1939 England and Wales Register, however his parents were living at 93 Bradford Street with children Agnes and Bernard and two others whose details have been redacted – presumably Harry and Henry.

War service:

A black and white aerial photograph with houses, and army buildings in the centre.

An aerial view of Skipton camp at Reykjavik (the Hallgrímskirkja Church has since been built there). Photo from

George was called up on 1st September 1939 (this is possibly why I haven’t found him on the 1939 Register). He served with the Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment) 6th Battalion. He spent two years in Iceland, from 1940-1942. Although there was little enemy activity there, it was part of the British Expeditionary Force’s aim to garrison the island and prevent it from falling into German hands. Much of their duties involved constructing an airfield and building Nissen hutted camps. These camps were named after locales within Yorkshire – Skipton Camp, Keighley Camp, Bingley Camp etc. They also undertook ski training and climbing exercises.

During the third quarter of 1942 George married Hilda Roberts in Keighley. They had a son, George H, during the second quarter of 1943.

The 6th Battalion Duke of Wellington’s were in England on D-Day itself, in a prison camp surrounded by barbed wire in Snaresbrook, northeast London, along with other units. Upon hearing the news of the landings at Normandy, troops marched and cycled to Wansted Flats and settled into a tented camp. There are reports of civilians, buoyed by the news of the landings, cheering the troops along in crowds. At the camp vehicles were prepared, waterproofed, and loaded. On 7th June the troops were entertained by music from HM Coldstream Guards and Geraldo and his Orchestra. Half of the troops were allowed out for a few hours while the others cleaned the camp. The next day, the remaining troops were allowed out while the others cleaned and loaded vehicles, and then embarked on SS Empire Newton. On the 10th, the remainder travelled to Southampton via Waterloo and boarded the HMT Chester, sailing up the Solent.

A cemetery with white gravestone in a grassed area with trees in the background.

Hottot-Les'Bagues War Cemetery Photo. from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

On the 11th June they set sail for France. Shelling delayed their landing by a few hours. Over the next few days troops were busied by improving slit trenches and clearing up. They were visited on the beach by the Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Field Marshall Smuts, who were met by General Montgomery on the 12th. The troops were ordered to prepare to take over anti-tank defence of Coulombes and then were sent to Cristot le Hauts Verts on the 17th, where they suffered enemy mortaring, resulting in the loss of five men.

On the 18th June the men suffered further heavy mortaring in Le Parc de Boislonde. The loss of life included one officer, four other ranks killed, 61 other ranks wounded and 18 other ranks missing. George Henry Frankland was one of those men killed. He was 24 years old and left a wife and infant son.

He is buried at Hottot-Les-Bagues War Cemetery in Calvados.

Information sources:

England and Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index
1921 Census of England and Wales
Shipley Times and Express, May 13th 1939
Shipley Times and Express, May 20th 1939
1939 England and Wales Register
England and Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
UK, Army Roll of Honour, 1939-1945
Keighley News, 29 July 1944
7th Bn Duke of Wellington June 1944, War Diary » Normandy War Guide
Alfred Fox, Iceland 1940-42, first connections – Sun Downer Blogs

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