19th Battalion & 55th Battalion, AIF
Date/Place of Birth: abt 1894, Marylebone, England
Date/Place of Death: 2 September 1918, Peronne, France
Biographical details: Edgar Russell Franks was born in Marylebone, London about 1894, the son of Edgar Charles Franks. He was educated at St Luke’s Nutford Place Edgeware Rd London. It is not known when he arrived in Australia although his enlistment form listed three years service in the colonial forces. Before enlisting in the AIF, Franks worked as an ironworks assistant at the Clyde Iron Works.
Service details: Franks enlisted on 25 October 1915 and was allocated to the 9th reinforcements, 19 Battalion. He left Australia aboard A54 HMAT Runic on 21 January 1916 and disembarked at Alexandra on 26 February 1916. As part of the AIF restructure, Franks was transferred to the 55th Battalion on 3 April 1916 at Ferry Post. On 19 May 1916, Franks was admitted to the 14th Field Ambulance with pyrexia and discharged to duty the same day. On 9 June 1916, Franks embarked aboard the HMT Caledonian at Alexandria to join the British Expeditionary Force at the Western Front and disembarked at Marseilles on 29 June 1916. The battalion entered the frontline trenches for the first time on 12 July 1916 and fought its first major battle at Fromelles a week later. Although in reserve, the 55th was quickly committed to the attack and eventually played a critical role, forming the rearguard for withdrawal. After a freezing winter manning trenches in the Somme Valley, in early 1917 the 55th Battalion took part in the advance that followed the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line. Later in the year, the AIF’s focus of operations switched to the Ypres sector in Belgium. On 6 August 1917, Franks was sent to Lewis Gun School, returning to his unit on 26 August 1917 just in time for the battalion’s involvement at Polygon Wood on 26 September 1917. On 7 October 1917, Franks was promoted to Temporary Corporal, with promotion to Corporal on 1 January 1918. On 30 January 1918, Franks was detached from duty and attended a course of instruction at No 1 Area Gas School from 2-9 March that year. From 4-18 April1918 Franks attended the 12th Lewis Gun Course at the Australian School of Musketry, Tidworth and remained with the 14th Training Battalion until 7 August 1918 when he rejoined his unit in France. On 2 September 1918, Franks was killed during the capture of Peronne.
Memorial Details: Franks is commemorated on Memorial Panel D10, Herbecourt British Cemetery, France and on the Roll of Honor, Memory Park, Penrith.