Wednesday 30 March 2016

The Death of Lieutenant Whittemore

Thursday 30th March 1916: The adjutant of the 1st Battalion at Saint-Laurent-Blangy near Arras tells us that Lieutenant Frank Whittemore was killed yesterday. He was out on patrol with Sergeant Quince and Private A Winch and was mortally wounded. In spite of the efforts by the sergeant and private to bring back his body under rifle and grenade fire, it was impossible to recover it. Thus, like tens of thousands of soldiers already in this war Lieutenant Whittemore suffers the double indignity of being killed and going unburied – his body left to decay in no man’s land(1)

Lieutenant Whittemore was nearly 40 years old, was educated at Bedford and joined as a private in the 2nd Battalion  in 1893. After serving for some time in England he was transferred to the 1st Battalion with which he served in India. Rejoining the 2nd Battalion, the deceased served in the Boer War, taking part in operations in Orange River Colony and the Transvaal for which he received the Queen’s Medal, with three clasps. Returning from South Africa he remained in England for three years and then left again with the 2nd Battalion, being ultimately stationed in Gibraltar, where he was promoted to Company Sergeant Major, Bermuda and South Africa. On his return to England he be mobilised for the present war and was through the first Battle of Ypres, where he received his commission. Being wounded he returned home and after recovering was posted to the 1st Battalion with which he saw fighting at Hill 60. For his bravery here he was mentioned in despatches, London Gazette, 1st January 1916 and was shortly afterwards awarded the Military Cross for services in the field. Here also he was gassed and again wounded. The dead lieutenant leaves a widow and four children.

Source: Bedfordshire Times, 20th April 1916

(1) Lieutenant Whittemore indeed has no known grave and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial. Sergeant Edward Quince MM from Sandy would be killed on the Somme on 27th July 1916 and likewise go unburied, being commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

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