Francis Frederick Fawcett
Date of birth: 1907
Date of death: 26.6.1942
Regiment: Royal Army Service Corps
Family information: Husband of Margaret Joan Fawcett nee Elliott
Service number: 115917
Francis attained the rank of Captain (service number 115917) and was enrolled in the Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) which was the unit responsible for keeping the British Army supplied with all its provisions barring weaponry and ammunition, which were under the remit of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps. It was usual for companies of the RASC to be attached to Divisions and more or less act autonomously. Although not assigned to front line fighting roles such companies were of necessity close to the action, thus, personnel of the RASC were trained to fight as infantry and RASC units were responsible for their own local defence.
Attached to allied forces (the 8th Army) fighting in the Western Desert (Egypt and Libya) Francis would have seen the ebb and flow of warfare in that region. The Axis forces consisted of the Italian 10th Army and the German Afrika Corps under Rommell. The allied forces consisted of British, South African, Australian, Indian and New Zealand forces along with some Greek and Free French.
On 11th June 1942 the Axis forces began an offensive from "the Cauldron" position. On 13th June: "Black Sunday" the Axis inflicted a heavy defeat on British armoured divisions. On 21st June, Tobruk was captured by Axis forces. The Allied forces were being driven back and on 28th June, Mersa Matruh, Egypt, fell to Rommel. On 30th June Axis forces reach El Alamein and attacked the Allied defences and the First Battle of El Alamein began.
It was during this period of rapid retreat, on 26th June 1942 that Francis was killed in action. He was buried in the El Alamein War Cemetery (Grave Reference XXXI. F. 23).
An entry in a newspaper announced the death of Francis, along with brief details of the ‘estate’ he left. In the first article mention was made of the fact that Thomas Percy Fawcett and his wife Mary were then living at Becca Hall in Aberford. They probably moved there in 1922. This was another substantial country mansion.
The Fawcetts were obviously a family of substance and this is confirmed in the 1901 Census data. The family were attended by a ‘Sick Nurse’, a Domestic Nurse’, a cook and two housemaids. In addition, living in estate accommodation were a ‘Gardener’ and a ‘Coachman’ along with their families.
Their wealth had been accumulated over several generations. As far back as 1841 Francis’s great grandfather Benjamin Fawcett was also a ‘Farmer’ in Kippax, the place of his birth in 1796. Benjamin and his wife Zilpah (?) had 7 children including Thomas born in Allerton Bywater in 1821. By 1871 Francis’s grandfather Thomas was a farmer of 100 acres and in 1881 described as a “Farmer and Maltster” of Brigshaw Farm in Allerton Bywater employing a number of servants and farm labourers mostly of Irish descent. By 1861 Benjamin was a widower.
Thomas was the father of Thomas Percy born in Allerton Bywater in 1871.
By 1901 the family fortunes had improved and Thomas Percy was resident in Barrowby Hall near Garforth. Described as a ‘Farmer/Maltster/Brewer’ he employed a housekeeper, governess, parlour maid, housemaid, kitchen maid, professional ‘sick’ nurse within the hall. He also employed a gardener, coachman, gamekeeper and farm labourers. Thomas Percy had married Edith Mary Gray, born in the Wakefield area (Stanley) in 1876 and the daughter of Frederick Gray a cornmiller.
There were two children in the home - Thomas G (born 1897) and a baby aged under 1 month. No mention was made of a child of this age in the later census and a Laura Fawcett died in 1902. This possibly explains the employment of a ‘sick’ nurse. Edith Dorothy was born in 1903 and Francis Frederick in 1907.
In 1935 Francis married Margaret Joan Elliott and sometime after moved into Sutton Hall. Margaret was an educated woman having attained a BA degree and became a County Councillor. No children have been traced.
After the war Thomas Percy Fawcett died on 24th May 1947 and left a substantial estate.