Stanstead Abbotts

Local History Society

Albert George FRANCIS

Private 266168

Bedfordshire Regiment

Formerly Hertfordshire Regiment

Killed in Action 31st July 1917 aged 25

Born in 1893, in Stanstead Abbotts, and in 1901 was living with his parents Walter and Susan, 3 brothers and 2 sisters in Chapel Lane, his father was a printer’s labourer.  By 1911 he had moved and was boarding in a house called Homewood, in Lincoln Road, Sidcup, Kent, working as a business assistant.

He joined the Hertfordshire Regiment, a Territorial Unit, but was transferred to the Bedfordshire Regt, and was posted to France.

His battalion saw active service in 1915 and by July 1916 they were part of the British Army preparing for the Battle of the Somme, where they served throughout the battle, taking part in the battles for Ancre and the Ancre Heights, until November when his battalion were moved to the Ypres salient.  They took part in small scale engagements until they were taken out of the front line for special training for a major forthcoming offensive, the Third Battle of Ypres.

On 31st July 1917 the battalion advanced towards German positions at Langemarck their objective, as part of the battle for Pilckem Ridge.  Casualties grew heavy from machine gun and sniper fire, but on reaching the enemy barbed wire it was found to have been almost untouched by British artillery fire and was extremely thick.  A few troops managed to get through the wire into German trenches via the only gap in the wire. The remainder of the battalion being unable to get through were suffering very heavy casualties from German machine guns on both flanks were forced to retreat.  The estimated casualties from this engagement on 31st were 464 from a complement of almost 600, one of them being Albert.

His body was never recovered and he is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres.

Medals Awarded: British War Medal, Victory Medal, 1915 Star