Private 19315 Frank Ashfield

Killed in Action Mesopotamia on Wednesday, 19th April 1916, age 37.
Commemorated on Panel 18 and 63 of Basra Memorial, Basra, Iraq.

9th Bn., Worcestershire Regiment. 39th Brigade of 13th Division.

Husband of Mrs Alice Ashfield
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Dudley, Resident: Tipton.

First landed Balkans, 28th August 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Not commemorated on any Tipton memorial.
Commemorated here because identified as Tipton on 'Soldiers Died in the Great War'.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/1655156/

Genealogical Data

1901 Census
4 Soaphouse Walk, off Hipkins Street, Burnt Tree, Tipton, Staffs.
Frank Ashfield (23, Iron Worker, born Tipton), his wife Alice (22, born Sedgley), and their 2 children John T. (2, born Tipton) and Frank (6 months, born Tipton).

1911 Census
Cannot trace Frank and Alice Ashfield on 1911 Census, although it is likley that Alice (age 36) died in December quarter 1914, death registered in Dudley.
Their 2 sons John Thomas (13, School, born Princes End) and Frank (11, School, born Princes End) were living with their grandparents Thomas and Elizabeth Ashfield, at 4 Bradley's Lane, Princes End, Tipton.

Personal Data

After Frank's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £2/2/11d (2 pounds, 2 shillings and 11 pence); this was paid to his son and sole legatee, John Thomas, in November 1916. His War Gratuity was £6/0/0d (6 pounds exactly), this was also paid to John Thomas in October 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Frank had enlisted in approximately November 1914.

Action resulting in his death

The 9th Worcesters were in 39th Brigade of the 13th (Western) Division, and landed in Gallipoli in July 1915. When Frank Ashfield arrived as a reinforcement on 28th August 1915, most of the Gallipoli campaign battles had already been fought.

The Gallipoli campaign was abandoned, and the 9th Worcesters were evacuated in January 1916. They were transported via Mudros, Eygpt, then on to Basra in early March 1916. At this stage General Townshend's forces had been besieged in Kut for 2 months, operations in this theatre were with the sole aim of relieving the garrison at Kut.

Attacks by the 13th Division along the north bank of the River Tigris had been successful at Hanna and Falahiya positions, but the third attack, at Sannaiyat, had failed badly on 9th April. A continuation of this attack seemed impossible, so the focus moved south of the Tigris to Bait Isa.

The 3rd Indian Division successfully took Bait Isa on 17th April, but strong counter-attacks on that evening as it became dark caused the 3rd Indian Division's line live to break. The 9th Worcesters were able to advance and stem this breach by the morning of 18th April. Kut was still besieged so the resumption of the advance was imperative.

The attack was planned for early in the morning of 19th April. Unfortunately the river level rose, and during the night the Turks were able to flood the ground in front of the Worcesters. The advance was impossible, with men sinking up to their armpits. Attempts were made over the 19th and 20th April to find a route through the marsh, but it was impassable. The advance was abandoned and the Worcesters relieved on the night of the 20th. Further attempts in the next week to reach Kut also failed, and the garrison surrendered on 29th April.

Frank Ashfield was killed in action on 19th April during the attack at Bait Isa. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Basra Memorial.

Newspaper Cuttings

Tipton Herald 3rd June 1916
In the list of casualties published on Monday, the following appear amongst those killed in action:
Pte F. Ashfield, Tipton; Worcestershire Regiment.