One of our blogging team is also a qualified genealogists and recently she was contacted by a team in Oswestry who are researching the men who fell in the Great War and are commemorated on the Oswestry War Memorial Gates.
They have discovered that one of the men has links to Norfolk thanks to Elizabeth’s blog and they have completed some more research into Francis Harold Carless who is also commemorated on the Norfolk Teachers War Memorial.
Francis H Carless
Francis Harold Carless was originally from Walsall and was born in 1892. His father, Frederick, was a shoe and boot dealer but by 1911 was working as a currier or leather worker. His mother was Ada, he was the eldest of 4 children with siblings Ernest, Maggie and Stanley. By 1911 the family had moved to Oswestry and lived at 45 Park Avenue. His early education was at Oswestry Council School, later he won a scholarship to Oswestry Grammar School where he won many school prizes.
After school he trained as a teacher and worked for Salop County Council as a master at Gobowen Council School. He was also actively connected with work of Salvation Army and other religious bodies in the district.
He later moved to Fakenham in Norfolk to take up a teaching appointment. He enlisted at Norwich in October 1915 joining the Royal Army Medical Corps and went over to France in August 1916 as a reinforcement posted to 60 Field Ambulance.
Francis was wounded twice, for the first time in September 1916 when he was hit in the arm, back and head and spent a month at Rouen Base Hospital. On returning to duty he was posted to 56 Field Ambulance, attached to 18 Division.
He was wounded for a second time in July 1917 but not so seriously and he soon returned to duty.
He was killed in action on 22 October 1917 probably serving as a stretcher bearer in the front line during the battles at Passchendaele, he has no known grave and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.
His personal property was returned to his father who now lived at Bridge Terrace, Whittington Road. Among his effects were a Welsh New Testament and a Bible as well as French/English and Welsh/English Dictionaries.
Francis is also commemorated on the Norfolk Teachers War memorial at County Hall in Norwich and at Oswestry Grammar School.
Research by the Men on the Gates team has them also listing Carless as a possible Non Combatant/Conscientious Objector due to his religious outlook but at present this is not backed up by any evidence.
We’ll be following the Men on the Gates project over the next few years as they find out more about the men commemorated (an early website for their project can be found here) but as ever if you can help with their project or have a similar one of your own please let us know so we can share details.