FRANK LUARD KILLED AT GALLIPOLI JULY 1915
Frank William Luard was born on 4 January 1865, the fourth of thirteen children born to Rev. Bixby Garnham Luard and Clara (neé Bramston – another Essex family of Skreens, Roxwell). His childhood was spent at Aveley Vicarage, Essex, and Birch Rectory near Colchester.
He joined the Royal Marines in 1884 and was Adjutant of the Portsmouth Division from 1896 to 1901 becoming a Lieutenant Colonel in 1910 and then promoted to Colonel 2nd Commandant in June 1915.
Soon after the outbreak of war Frank was sent with his battalion to Lille and took part in the defence of Antwerp in 1914.
As a Lt Colonel of the Portsmouth Division of the Royal Marine Light Infantry he was stationed at Forton Barracks, Portland, when the decision was made to seize the Dardenelles. Frank marched with his men 60 miles to a training camp on the outskirts of Blandford where he wrote to his father on 18 January 1915, “I march by road with my 30 officers and 1000 men for Dorsetshire – my men are to be lodged and fed by Dorsetshire villagers – a new departure in English rural life”.
On Saturday 27 February 1915 the battalion was paraded in the pouring rain, followed by a two hour march to Shillingstone Station to be transported to the ‘Gloucester Castle’, setting sail from Avonmouth on 28 February for the Greek island of Lemnos.
After some diversions via Alexandria and Port Said, the Portsmouth Battalion was ordered to disembark at Anzac Cove on 28 April 1915 and under Col Luard came under immediate attack and under continuous machine gun fire. Frank was hit in the right leg. The cost to the battalion over these initial few days was heavy, ten officers killed and seven wounded with 98 other ranks killed, 305 wounded and 28 missing.
Back in Gallipoli after being treated in Alexandria for the wound he received two months earlier, he wrote to his family in a letter dated July 11th 1915 and says:
“We did not go back to the trenches as expected … The men however don’t get much rest as we are digging new communication trenches …We lose a man or two each day as the enemy are shelling where they think we are working … The middle of the day is very hot – too hot for sleep – and pervaded with myriads of flies which cover your food, face and hands. We are in a good deal of trouble with diarrhoea – one part of the treatment is brandy and port …”
Two days after writing this letter Frank was killed in action, According to the official records he ‘died most gallantly at the head of his battalion whilst leading his men’. His grave remains in Gallipoli, his widow Ellie saying, ‘I wouldn’t take Frank’s body from the field of glory for anything – what could be finer than to lie there where his work was done that day’.
Luard brothers in uniform – Frank on the right
Letters from Frank and those to him from his family are held in the Luard archives at the Essex Record Office, Chelmsford.
Information provide with thanks by Caroline Stevens
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