Lance Corporal Frank Treen

Lance Corporal Frank Treen, 8th Battalion, Duke of Wellington's (West Riding) Regiment. Service number: 12013.

Frank Treen - 'A Great Chum'

Frank was born on 22nd August 1889, he was living at Spring Bank in Keighley with his parents Edward and Mary Elizabeth Treen née Page. This street overlooked both of the Ingrow Railway Stations. Frank was baptised a month later at Ingrow St. John Church on 22nd September 1889.
The 1891 and 1901 census records the family split in different houses on the night of the census and their father Edward was working away and boarding at Arkholme in Lancashire. He was working as a railway porter for the Midland Railway, so perhaps this was just a temporary situation. In the 1901 census Mary was living with Frank's sisters at 8, Hazel Street, Spring Bank in Keighley and Frank was recorded living with his grandmother Elizabeth Page (Mary's mother) at 9, Bracken Street although again, this could have just been an overnight stay on the date of the census. These streets were right next to one another anyway and Frank could walk the few yards home. Although Bracken Street still exists today, Hazel Street was demolished some years ago and the green space left for many years has recently been replaced with modern housing. A visit to this area shows how close knit the community would have been, with several terraced streets close together and all of these streets are named after trees and plants.
We know from the Ingrow Council School roll of honour that Frank was educated there, just across the valley from his home.
By the time of the 1911 census the family were all together at 3, Ash Street and had moved less than 100 yards from their previous home. Edward was still working as a railway porter and Frank was 21 and had a job working as a joiner for William Steel, a builder and joiner based at Apsley Street in Keighley (William lived at Exley head, just up the hill). Frank had completed his joinery apprenticeship with William and was described as a willing worker by his employer.

Although no service records exist, we think Frank enlisted early on in the war at the age of 25, probably around September 1914, going on his service number with the 8th Battalion, Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment. A report in the local newspaper confirms this.

After his Army training which probably took place at Belton Park near Grantham in Lincolnshire, he would have travelled with the 8th Battalion, West Riding Regiment to the war theatre at Gallipoli, where he arrived with members of his battalion on 12th July 1915. He later took part in and was killed at the Battle of Anafarta on 21st August 1915. Frank has no known final resting place and is remembered on the Helles Memorial.

Extracts from the 8th Battalion West Riding Regimental war diary have enabled us to piece together some events of the days leading up to the battle in which Frank died:

After training at Belton Camp near Grantham, the battalion moved later to Witley then they were posted overseas on S.S. Aquitania from Liverpool on 3rd July 1915 and Frank entered the Balkan theatre (Gallipoli) on 12th July 1915. The battalion bivouaced at Imbros for two weeks and landed at Suvla Bay on the 6th August. They suffered heavy losses on 7th, 9th and 12th August with quiet periods in between, notably in trenches at Chocolate Hill. Frank was killed in action on 21st August during an attack on the village of Anafarta when the battalion again suffered heavy losses. He was 26 years old.

An account of the battle conditions they endured, from Sergeant John Edmund Robinson, who served alongside Frank and was killed on the same day:

The Keighley News, Saturday September 11, 1915.

In the light of Sergeant Robinson's death, referred to in our casualty records, the soldier's last letters home have a pathetic interest. Writing within sounds of the guns, he said:-
We landed in large steam shore boats, having travelled from the base in destroyers. The hour was something after 11 at night, and our regiment had orders to land immediately behind a second battalion. Both were accomplished without great difficulty. Three-quarters of a mile were covered with caution, but in close order, until marching over a slope we were hailed by myriads of rifle bullets. Since then movement has been continuous and rapid. At the break of dawn I was ordered with my line to cross the valley beyond. We went forward, ploughed up with shrapnel and high-explosive shell, in a single line which was kept steady, until, after several mad dashes we reached cover under a ridge at the base of the opposite hill. The men, shocked and tormented by the risk, held themselves like true britons. Every man was true to his country's honour and himself. Captain___ himself a candidate for "baptism of fire" could not help but exclaim, "Well, you are a great lot of men!" But the details of that day will be told better than I can express by some who observed but did not take part. I cannot tell you how many casualties there were. Every movement we make, either in entrenchments or behind them, is seized by snipers as an opportunity.

Keighley News report dated 11th September 1915:
It is feared that Lance Corporal Frank Treen of the 8th West Riding Regiment, whose parents reside at 3, Briar Street, Ingrow, Keighley, has been killed in action at the Dardanelles. In a letter to a friend at Ingrow, Private William Watmough, of the same regiment, and a friend of Lance-Corporal Treen's, states that he was killed on the afternoon of August 21.
He was 26 years of age and enlisted along with other local lads twelve months ago. Before enlistment he was employed by Mr William Steel, joiner and builder, Apsley Street, Keighley.
He was a single man and played with the Keighley Harlequins Football Club when that team won the medals a few years ago. He was well known in the Ingrow district. Mr Steel speaks very highly of his character and his willingness in every department of work right from his apprenticeship to the time of enlistment.
News has been received that Privates Willie Sawley and William Watmough, of Oak Grove, Ingrow, and of the 8th West Riding Regiment, at the Dardanelles, have been wounded. In a letter to his home Private Sawley says: "I am quite well but for a slight wound I got right through the thigh, which is going on very nicely. We have had a very rough time of it since we landed here, but we are getting our own back from the Turks. We set in on Saturday, the 21st, to advance up a hill, but I can tell you we had a rough time, but glad to say we came off on the top, with a lot of bloodshed... I got wounded on Saturday afternoon, the 21st." - In a letter to a friend at Ingrow, Private Watmough says: "Well, I am still alive, and have never had a scratch - only my wrist knocked up, and am just now having a rest at the base." He then mentions the death of Lance-Corporal Treen, and says "that it knocked all the life out of me when I heard, as he was one of my best pals... How I have got through, God only knows. I am quite convinced it is not my own carefulness and ability that has got me through..."

Frank Treen is remembered on the Ingrow War Memorial next to St. John's Church, the Wesley Place Church roll of honour and the Ingrow Council School roll of honour. He is also named in Keighley's Great War Roll of Honour book which is on display at Keighley Library.

Ingrow War Memorial at St John's Church in Keighley.

Keighley's Great War Roll of Honour book held in a glass case in Keighley Library.

Frank was posthumously awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal for his war service. These would have been received some years after the war by his parents along with his King's Certificate and Memorial Plaque.

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