Private Frank Henry Rawlins

Regiment: 7th Battalion East Surrey
Service No:  558
Date and place of birth: 1st qtr 1892 in Marylebone, London
Date and place of death: 13 October 1915 in France

Family background

In 1901 Frank Henry Rawlins was aged 9, attending school and living with his aunt Caroline Holden at Bishops Cottage, Lurgashall, Sussex. She was born in the village and was now a retired childrens’ nurse, single and aged 65.

At the time of the 1911 census, Frank was a patient in the West Sussex and East Hampshire Infirmary, Broyle Road, Chichester, Sussex. He was apprenticed to George Roynon, printer, stationer and publisher in Midhurst, Sussex. His premises were at Goodner’s Shop in North Street, from where the Midhurst Times was published. Frank completed his apprenticeship on 10 January 1913.

Military service

Frank Henry Rawlins enlisted at Wimbledon, Surrey on 30 August 1914 and signed on for three years or the duration of the war. He had belonged to the 4th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment (Territorials). He stated his trade as a compositor and his address as 81 Victory Road, Wimbledon. His Military History Sheet shows his service at home from 30 August 1914 to 31 May 1915 and in France from 1 June 1915 until his death on 13 October 1915. He had served 1 year and 45 days. His next of kin was named as Miss L L Middleton (sic), fiancée, of 32 The Ridgeway, Wimbledon.

After enlisting Frank Rawlins  transferred to the 7th (Service) Battalion which was formed in Kingston-upon-Thames in August 1914. In February 1915, the Battalion moved to Aldershot as part of Kitchener’s 1st New Army and joined the 37th Brigade of the 12th Division. In June they were mobilised for war and embarked for France, landing in Boulogne and going straight into frontline action. They were involved in the Battle of Loos (24 September to 18 October).

The 7th Battalion was ordered to take an area known as ‘The Quarries’, which, despite heavy bombardment, it took and held the gun trench. The Regiment’s own records state:-

“The men fought splendidly all through and attacked with great dash. This was especially creditable as they had been in the trenches for 4 months without rest and the last 5 days had undergone a continuous heavy bombardment. The casualties were heavy. 2 officers wounded and 1 injured, 56 other ranks killed and 156 wounded with 33 missing. Took 16 prisoners, 1 machine gun and 3 tank mortars with a lot of ammunition”.

The East Surrey Regiment raised a total of eighteen battalions in WW1 and was awarded 62 Battle Honours and 7 Victoria Crosses. In total 6,750 men were lost.

Frank Rawlins was awarded Victory, British and 1914-1915 Star medals.

Death and commemoration

He was killed in action on 13 October 1915 in France, and is commemorated on Loos Memorial, Panels 65 to 67. He is also commemorated on Midhurst War Memorial, on Memorial Panels in Midhurst Parish Church and on the Board at Midhurst Rother College.

Subsequent family history

Louisa Lottie Myddleton was born in Wimbledon on 26 February 1896. In 1911 she was living with her aunt Alice Walton in Midhurst. Miss Walton was a confectioner and refreshment house keeper who ran the “Cyclists’ Rest” in North Street and Louisa, together with a cousin, assisted in the business.

After Frank Rawlins’ death, Louisa Myddleton acknowledged, on 16 June 1916, receipt of his belongings which included discs, diary, letters and a pocket book. Later, and at different dates, his medals were sent to her.

Louisa Myddleton married Sweeney Hill in 1920 and died in 1971, aged 75 in the Winchester district.

Midhurst U3A WW1 War Memorial Project