STORIES SEEN THROUGH A GLASS PLATE
Q21721 — Mr C J Frank, June 1916
Image 2: The grave of Private Clement John Frank, Flers A.I.F. Cemetery, France
Image 3: Flers A.I.F. Cemetery, France
‘Pte. Frank in the words of his great nephew’ — Dr. Alec Frank
Audio transcript at bottom of page
Clement John Frank was born in 1891, the son of William and Elizabeth Frank who lived at 3 Albion Street. By 1911 they had moved to 20-21 High Street and William was draper’s manager. Clement was by then a bank clerk. He was a Private in the Royal Fusiliers 41st Division and was killed in action on the Somme 7th October 1916 and buried at Flers. He is named on Lewes War Memorial.
“This is Clement Frank who was my great uncle, who was born in Albion Street probably but brought up in the High Street of Lewes. He went off to the war when he was quite young and was dead in a few weeks.
We’ve got an account of how he died – probably an instantaneous death from a shot. Of course, I did not know him but my father was clearly very fond of him and named his eldest son Clement within minutes of birth.”
Clement was 25 when he was killed. He joined up the Royal Fusiliers, the 26th or the Bankers Battalion and he is buried at the AIF burial ground in Fler.
It sounds as if he was quite a studious man. The 26th Battalion was raised by the Lord Mayor and the City of London from bank clerks and accountants. The document we have states that it appears that Clement survived the 26th Royal Fusiliers involvement in the Battle of Fler-Courcelette on the 15th to the 22nd September 1916 where the battalion suffered 264 casualties. He was killed in action at the Battle of Transloy Ridges on 7 October, the date of his death inscribed on his headstone.
This photo is just a very striking and immediate photo and its true that the quality of the photograph is superb. You can almost feel the texture of the cloth of his uniform. He does look quite intent. I think he does look a little bit frightened if I am honest, which is not unreasonable. Two of this brothers had already been to the war and had been injured badly. They both survived but it was not exciting for him to be sent off to the war. But he went off. It is just a striking photograph of real immediacy and he would have gone off very shortly afterwards and was dead in a few weeks.
There are nice stories of my granny looking after quite a lot of assistants who would have made dresses and so on. Drapery was quite a business, everything from funeral gear to wedding gear. I think she had quite a good little business with everyone working away.
One of my very first memories is going to stay at 20 High Street at Christmas. There were a lot of rooms above the shop, I can’t remember whether they were comfortable or not but quite a lot of space. We were given not a Hornby Diablo but quite a simple clockwork train by my father and uncle for Christmas and we had it out on the floor of the shop which was completely empty and rather nice.”