Edgar Russell Franks

Corporal Edgar Franks

19th and 55th Battalions, AIF

Service Number: 3803

Born: 1984, Marylebone, London

Died: 2 September 1918, Peronne, France

Edgar Russell Franks was born in Marylebone, London in 1894, the son of Edgar Charles and Mary Ann Franks. He arrived in Sydney on board the Moravian in 1910 and lived with his uncle in Parramatta. Before he enlisted he had spent three years’ service in the colonial forces. Franks worked as an ironworks assistant at the Clyde Iron Works. According to his obituary in the Nepean Times, Franks ‘visited Penrith a good deal, and attended the local Methodist Church’. This no doubt is where he may have met his fiancé Maud Byrnes, the daughter of Henry and Rebecca Byrnes. Maud later married Robert Kendall in 1934.

Franks enlisted on 25 October 1915 and was allocated to the 9th Reinforcements, 19th Battalion. He left Australia aboard HMAT Runic on 20 January 1916 and disembarked at Alexandria on 26 February. As part of the AIF restructure, Franks transferred to the 55th Battalion on 3 April. On 19 May, he was admitted to the 14th Field Ambulance with a fever and discharged the same day.

On 9 June, Franks embarked aboard the Caledonian for the Western Front and disembarked at Marseilles on 29 June. His Battalion entered the frontline trenches for the first time on 12 July 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, just in time for his Battalion’s involvement at Polygon Wood on 26 September 1917. On 7 October, 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. From 4-18 April, he attended the 12th Lewis Gun Course at the Australian School of Musketry, Tidworth and remained with the 14th Training Battalion until 7 August when he rejoined his unit in France. On 2 September 1918, Franks was killed by shell fire during the attack on Peronne.

Memorial Details:

  • Herbecourt British Cemetery, France
  • Honor Roll, Memory Park, Penrith
  • Honor Roll, Methodist Church, Penrith