All Saints church in East Clevedon in north Somerset sits on the periphery of modern day Clevedon. It is tucked next to the local primary school but with a position over the local area. Even here, one personal war memorial stands out prominently. A sad story of two brothers – neither of whom lived beyond the Great War.
Frank Rowland Hedges
In loving memory of
Corporal Frank Rowland Hedges
Who died of wounds in France
November 16th 1917 28 years
Thy will be done
His memorial stone lies atop the grave of his older and only brother Henry James Hedges. Henry died in May 1915 when his body was discovered in Queen’s Dock on Merseyside. Henry had gone missing from his ship where he was expected as third mate. Henry was just 28 when he died. His ship, the Moyune was expected to leave for official war service as a merchant ship and an expeditionary transport. It was torpedoed by a German U-boat in April 1918. Henry was buried back at Clevedon, just two years later his younger brother’s memorial would lie adjacent to his own.
Frank enlisted in Bristol, initially into the 1st/6th Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment. He was then at some point transferred into the 2nd/5th Gloucestershire Regiment, which in itself was a territorial battalion. He entered into the war on the 31st March 1915 when the 1st/6th Glosters got to Boulogne in northern France. It had mobilised in Bristol and then became part of the 144th Brigade, 48th (South Midland) Division. It must have been a far cry from his life before the war when Frank was listed as a gardener in the 1911 census. The 2nd/5th Glosters did not get to France until May 1916.
His death was caused by wounds received in action.
His father Henry was a postman. Delivering the fate of many a serviceman and servicewoman over the course of the war. He was married to Ruth and they lived on Old Street in Clevedon. Both sons were baptised in All Saints church in East Clevedon, I’m sure neither believed that they would be burying both of them before their own deaths.
Just before Christmas 1917, news came through that their son Corporal Frank Rowland Hedges had died from wounds received in action. He is buried at Duisans British Cemetery in Etrun, France. At that time, the 8th Casualty Clearing Station was stationed there.
The 2nd/5th Battalion of Glosters were in place around the chemical works at Roeux near Arras in France. They suffered casualties behind the line due to intermittent shelling. On the 15th November 1917, the day before Frank died, the battalion was moved into the front line to replace the Oxford and Bucks Light Infantry – the battalion suffered deaths and casualties on that day alone. So, whether he was injured the day before or a few days before, Frank’s final end was at Duisans where he was buried and remains to this day.
These are the men who never returned from the Great War whose memorials lie at East Clevedon in North Somerset:
Corporal/Private Frank Rowland Hedges
DoB 1889 Clevedon DoD 16th November 1917 France age 28
3156TF 1st/6th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment
Also served: 265806 2nd/5th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment
Buried: Duisans British Cemetery, Etrun, Pas de Calais, France