Rifleman 4783 John Frisby

Frisby John 96 443x650
Picture courtesy John Frisby's grandson, Gordon Goodrum. John believed to be on the right.

Died of Wounds on Saturday, 15th May 1915, age 29.
Commemorated on Panel 32 and 33 of Le Touret Memorial, Pas De Calais, France.

1st Bn., King's Royal Rifle Corps. 6th Brigade of 2nd Division.

Husband of Elizabeth Millard (formerly Frisby), of 18, High St., Kates Hill, Dudley, Worcs.
Born: West Bromwich, Enlisted: Birmingham, Resident: Dudley.

First landed France & Flanders, 9th November 1914.
Medal entitlement: 1914 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives survived and transcribed.

Commemorated on the Tipton Library, and Dudley Clock Tower memorials.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/859650/

Genealogical Data

Birth of John Robert Frisby registered March quarter 1886 in West Bromwich.

1901 Census
23 Hall End, West Bromwich, Staffs.
Isaac Brayden (46, Cast Pipe Moulder, born West Bromwich) Hannah Brayden (42, born West Bromwich), Isaac's son Isaac Brayden (7, born West Bromwich) and his 4 stepsons: James Frisby (18, Moulder, born West Bromwich), John Frisby (14, Moulder, born West Bromwich), Thomas Frisby (11, born West Bromwich) and William Frisby (5, born West Bromwich).

Marriage of John Robert Frisby and Elizabeth Dean registered June quarter 1908 in Dudley.

1911 Census
3 Bolham Road, Smethwick
John Robert Frisby (24, General Labourer, born West Bromwich), and his wife Elizabeth (24, born Dudley). At the time of the census they had already had 2 children, both of whom had died. A further son, William, was born in 1914 but died in 1918, age 4.

A daughter, Elsie May, was born in 1911, marrying in 1932 and living until she was 90 years of age. Her family say that she was one of the children who had lost their father in the Great War who were presented to the Duke of Winsdor at the Drill Hall in Trindle Road, Dudley, on 13th June 1923.

Personal Data

Pte John Frisby is commemorated on the Tipton Memorial, but it is difficult to see that he has any connection with the town. He was born in West Bromwich, and lived in Smethwick and Dudley. It was presumably his mother who was living at the Wagon and Horses Inn, Dudley Road, Tividale in 1915, who most likely requested his commemoration on the Tipton Memorial.

John Robert Frisby enlisted in the King's Royal Rifle Corps on 2nd September 1902, signing on for 3 years and then 9 years in the Reserves. This meant that he would have been time-expired on 2nd September 1914, however war was declared just a month before that date and he was recalled to the colours.

When John enlisted in 1902, he gave his age as 18 years and 6 months; he was in fact 3 years younger being no older than 15 years and 9 months. At that time he was 5 foot 4 inches tall, weighed 114 lbs with a 32-inch chest, had a fresh complexion, hazel eyes and brown hair. His occupation was given as Labourer, and religion as Church of England. John saw service in Malta and Egypt during his time as a Regular, before being transferred to the reserve in 1905.

He was recalled to the Army on 10th October 1914, to his old battalion, the 1st King's Royal Rifle Corps, part of 2nd Division. Just a month later he crossed the channel as the first battle of Ypres was just drawing to a close, as a reinforcement for the losses suffered there.

John's three brothers all served in the Army. William, the youngest brother, served with the 2nd Leicesters, and was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. This was reported in the London Gazette on 3rd June 1915 "For conspicuous gallantry on 23rd February 1915, near Richebourg L'Avoue. When a man was wounded near the advanced post he went out and assisted to render first aid under heavy from the enemy, who were only 150 yards away. Private Frisby was himself wounded."

In 1916 his widow, Elizabeth, received a pension of 18/6d per week for herself and the 2 children, at that time living at 10 Stafford Street, Dudley. Elizabeth remarried in 1920.

After John's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances was paid to his widow, Elizabeth, in May 1916; this amounted to £3/2/4d (3 pounds, 2 shillings and 4 pence). In August 1919 Elizabeth also received John's War Gratuity of £5/0/0d.

Action resulting in his death

In May 1915 the British agreed to attack as part of a French-British offensive in Artois, French Flanders. The first phase was the Battle of Aubers on 9th May where 2nd Division was mainly in reserve. This was unsuccessful, and the second phase was the Battle of Festubert on 15th May. Like the earlier battle, this was to be a pincer-attack, in the north at Richebourg and the south at Festubert, the latter involving the 2nd Division. The 1st KRRC attacked at 10pm and gained the German front line trench; this was held despite heavy German artillery fire until late on the 16th May when they were relieved. Losses at Festubert were high, the 1st KRRC had 81 men dying between the 15th and 17th May. Like many of the men killed, John Frisby has no known grave and is commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial.

Newspaper Cuttings

Wednesbury Herald 10th April 1915
Information has been received by Mrs Bladen, of the Wagon and Horses Inn, Dudley Road, Tividale, Tipton, that her youngest son, Pte William Frisby, of the 1st Leicestershire Regiment (Editor: actually 2nd Leicesters), has been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for conspicuous gallantry whilst serving at the front. In a letter to Frisby, Captain F. Latham of the Leicestershire Regiment says: "I am very pleased to inform you that you have been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for your excellent and gallant deed in assisting to dress a wounded man at great risk to yourself whilst we were in the trenches we took over from the 1st Gurkhas. The Commanding Officer and all of us congratulate you heartily upon the reward that has been granted to you. I hope you will soon be fit and able to rejoin the Battalion. I am sure you will be pleased to hear that Lieut. Moore of the R.A.M.C., whom you assisted, has been granted the D.S.O., and Captain N.A. Morgan the Military Cross."
Frisby was seriously wounded, being shot through the neck, and he is now confined at Netley Hospital, Southampton. He is eighteen years of age, being the youngest of four brothers, all of whom are serving at the front.

Tipton Herald 12th June 1915
Pte William Frisby, of The Wagon & Horses, Tividale, has been awarded the DCM for conspicuous bravery at Neuve Chapelle. At present he lies wounded in Netley Hospital. Private John Frisby, his brother, has also been wounded.

Birmingham Evening Despatch 12th April 1915
Private Frisby, 1st Leicestershire (Editor: actually 2nd Leicesters), of the Wagon and Horses, Tividale, has been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for conspicuous gallantry while serving at the front. Frisby is at present at Netley Hospital suffering from serious wounds. Captain F. Latham, writing to his parents, states that Frisby's gallant deed consisted of assisting to dress the injuries of a wounded man while under fire when the Leicesters took over trenches from the 1st Gurkhas. 11121 Private William Frisby served with the 2nd Battalion, the Leicestershire Regiment. The citation for the award of the Distinguished Conduct Medal was published in The London Gazette on 1 June 1915: "For conspicuous gallantry on 23rd February, 1915, near Richebourge L'Avoue. When a man was wounded near the advanced post he went out and assisted to render first aid under heavy fire from the enemy, who were only 150 yards away. Private Frisby was himself wounded in the neck whilst performing this gallant act."

Tipton Herald 5th February 1916
Private W. Frisby (now of 14 Flood Street, Dudley), late of the Leicestershire Regiment, was formally presented with his medal in the Leicester Corn Exchange on Wednesday of last week by the Mayor of Wednesbury. It was presented for conspicuous gallantry near Richebourg L'Avoue, on February 23rd 1915.