Date of birth: 1898
Date of death: 8.8.1918
Regiment: Royal Berkshire
Family information: Son of John and Florence Layden
Service number: 45073
Frank died on 8th August 1918 and according to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission he was Private 45073 of the 8th Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment aged 20, son of Florence Brown of Bunker’s Hill, Wrenthorpe and Albert Brown (stepfather). He was initially listed as a missing person as the Wakefield Express reported on September 15th 1918:
“PRIVATE FRANK LAYDEN, Royal Berks, Bunker’s Hill, Wrenthorpe, is reported to have been missing since August 10th. He is 22 years of age and before enlisting he worked at the Wrenthorpe Colliery.”
At the beginning of August the battalion were in the reserve trenches in front of La Houssaye but on 8th they moved up. At 4.20am the barrage started and the war diary reports, “A thick mist hung o’er the battlefield, thus rendering it well-nigh impossible to maintain direction” so progress was slow although casualties were “light”. The advance continued throughout the night and the next day despite the sniping, heavy machine gun fire and field guns of the enemy.
The medal record card also lists him as Private 6/71385 in the London Regiment so he must have been transferred at some point. The Register of Soldiers’ Effects lists his next of kin as his stepfather, his sister Mary and step sister Elizabeth. His mother Florence had died in 1919 aged just 43.
Frank was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal and was remembered on the Vis-en-Artois memorial. He is also remembered on the Wrenthorpe Colliery Memorial.
On the original Wrenthorpe memorial it lists an F Sayden, however there was no one of that name in the Commonwealth War Graves Records. I believe it should read Frank Layden who according to the census was born in Cleckheaton in about 1898.
In 1901 he was living with his parents John and Florence and siblings Mary Emma (b 1899) and Sarah E (b 1901) at Thornes Wharf, but later that same year his father John died. Florence remarried in 1903 and Frank was living with his stepfather Albert Brown and mother in Bunker’s Hill, Wrenthorpe in the 1911 Census. In this census Frank and his sister Mary have now taken their stepfather’s surname (his other sister from the first marriage, Sarah, died in 1907) and there were three more sisters from the current marriage – Elizabeth, Rosalind and Maud.