Frank Wilds (c.1889-1917)
Frank Wilds — shown as Wilde on the St. Stephen's memorial — initially proved difficult to identify. Limited military records show he was born in Hampshire. In 1911 Frank, also known by his other names, John Charles, lived at 36 Percival Street, Portsmouth and worked as a "milk carrier".
Frank's father, John, was in 1911, an engine fitter's assistant in the naval dockyard, born fifty-six years earlier in Somerset. Frank was the eldest child and one of only two working. The family lived in six rooms and on the night of the census had a visitor, Ethel Rowan, also born in Portsmouth. John had been a seaman and was absent at the time of the 1891 census and in 1901 is identified as a naval stoker.
In the second quarter of 1913, in Portsmouth, Frank married Ethel Rowan, the visitor staying with the family at the time of then 1911 census.
It is likely that Frank and Ethel moved north in order to better themselves. By the time he enlisted in the Dukes 2/5th Battalion, he was employed by the Huddersfield Corporation as a tram conductor. According to Margaret Stansfield in Huddersfield's Roll of Honour 1914-192 he lived at 62 Wellington Street. The size of War Gratuity paid to Ethel, suggest he may have joined up before conscription.
Frank died on the 3 May 1917 in the battle of Bullecourt on a day in which at least four other Lindley men died including Lt Oscar Walker.
As well as being remembered on the memorial in St. Stephen's church, Frank is also remembered on the memorial in the Town Hall, though interestingly, not in Oakes Baptist Church, the memorial nearest to Wellington Street.
It seems possible that Ethel returned to her native Hampshire and re-married in 1921.
Huddersfield's Roll of Honour: 1914-1922
The following extract is from Huddersfield's Roll of Honour: 1914-1922 (2014) by J. Margaret Stansfield:
- WILDS, FRANK. Private. No 240522. 2/5th Battalion Duke of Wellington's Regiment. Born Hampshire. Married. Lived 62 Wellington Street, Oakes, Huddersfield. Employed as a tram conductor by the Huddersfield Corporation Tramways Department. Killed in action on 3.5.1917 during the Battle of Bullecourt. He was 27 years of age. Has no known grave. Commemorated ARRAS MEMORIAL TO THE MISSING.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
- Private FRANK WILDS
- regiment: Duke of Wellington's Regiment (West Riding)
- died: Thursday, May 3, 1917
- record ID: 774183
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission (ID #774183)
- Imperial War Museums: Lives of the First World War (ID #4747307)