Frank Alway

Memorial: Olveston

Regiment: Grenadier Guards

Medals: British War Medal, Next of Kin Memorial Plaque 1914 - 1921, Victory Medal

Rank and number: Lance Corporal 21123

Parents: James William and Georgina May Alway

Home address: Catherine Hill, Olveston, Bristol

Pre-war occupation: Platelayer on the railways

Date of birth: 1896

Place of birth: Olveston, Bristol

Date of death: 25/09/1916

Buried/Commemorated at: Thiepval Memorial (Pier and Face 8 D.), Somme, France

Age: 20

Further information:

Frank was the first son of James and Georgina Alway of Catherine Hill, Olveston. Bruce and Edith were siblings and Uncles Charles and Edward also lived in the parish with their families. After leaving Olveston School, Frank worked as a platelayer on the railways while his father worked in the Cattybrook brickyard. By December 1914, when Frank was in Birmingham, he enlisted in the Army, overstating his age by a year, and was assigned to the 4th Battalion of the Grenadier Guards, joining them at Caterham Barracks. By early April 1915 he had been promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal and the 4th Battalion moved to France on the 8th of September 1915

On 1st July 1916, supported by a French attack to the south, thirteen divisions of Commonwealth forces launched an offensive on a line from north of Gommecourt to Maricourt. Despite a preliminary bombardment lasting seven days, the German defences were barely touched and the attack met unexpectedly fierce resistance. Losses were catastrophic and with only minimal advances on the southern flank the initial attack was a failure. In the following weeks, huge resources of manpower and equipment were deployed in an attempt to exploit the modest successes of the first day. However, the German Army resisted tenaciously and repeated attacks and counter attacks meant a major battle for every village, copse and farmhouse gained. On September 24th 1916 the 4th Battalion of the Grenadier Guards retired to Bernefay and Trones Woods while the Welsh Guards took over from them. The next day the 4th Battalion mounted the attack on Lesboeufs, which resulted in its capture and the ultimate sacrifice by Frank Alway in what became known as the Battle of Morval. Due to meticulous planning, preparation and execution, the Guards consider this to be one of their most successful engagements in WWI and it forms part of the Battles of the Somme; in that one day the Battalion lost 84 men killed in action and a further 84 missing in action. At the end of September, Thiepval was finally captured, the village had been an original objective of the 1st of July. Attacks north and east continued throughout October and into November in increasingly difficult weather conditions. The Battles of the Somme finally ended on the 18th of November with the onset of winter

Frank Alway is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial to the north of Albert with 73,366 others

By kind permission, this information is based on the following source(s):

Forces War Records and CWGC