Rank: Second Lieutenant
Service Number:N/A.
Regiment: 20th Bn. Manchester Regiment
Killed In Action Saturday 1st July 1916
Age 23
County Memorial StockportBramhall
Commemorated\Buried Dantzig Alley British Cemetery, Mametz
Grave\Panel Ref: V.I.9

Frank Smith's Story.

Frank was born in Northenden on 8 August 1892, the eldest child of Arthur Percy Brooks and Edith Brooks. Arthur was a solicitor and was in partnership with another lawyer. They practised as Smith and Brooks with offices at St Peters Chambers, 39 St Petersgate, Stockport and 12 Exchange Street, Manchester. When the 1901 Census was taken, the family was living at 186 Northenden Road, Gatley. Frank now had two siblings - 4-year-old Alice and Bernard, just a few months old. When War was declared, the family had moved to Cheadle Hulme and was living at "White Cottage" on Bramhall Park Road. They later moved to "Redcot" on Bramhall Lane. Frank had been educated at Stockport Grammar School and was studying law at Manchester University. He had also been articled to the family practice. He applied for a commission on 27 November 1914, stating he was a member of the Special reserve with the 4th Battalion, North Staffordshire Regiment. When he became a 2nd Lieutenant, he was posted the 20th Battalion and took command of No. 14 Platoon, in "D" Company. The Battalion was the fifth of the "Pals" units raised by the Manchester Regiment in the autumn of 1914 and some details of their recruitment and training can be found here. He left for France with the battalion in November 1915.In early May 1916, Frank returned home for a brief period of leave but then returned to help with the Battalion's preparations for the forthcoming "Big Push". An account of this attack, in which he was killed, is here. Frank's friend, Lieutenant J W Ramsbottom, wrote to Frank's parents "May I as an old associate of your son be allowed to express my sympathy with you in your great loss. He and I were in the same Company for over 12 months and I regarded him as one of my greatest friends in the Battalion. But with all of us, he was popular because of his cheery ways and his happy gift of looking on the bright side of things. We all miss him terribly and so can sympathise the more with you. But we are proud of him and those who died with him. I hear he was killed almost instantaneously and so would suffer no pain. He was leading his men across to the German trenches. He has been buried with his commanding officer and other brother officers in a grave in the German trench they died trying to capture and thanks to their efforts in the past and their example in the attack, it was captured. “The father of one of Frank's Bramhall friends, Frank Clarke, also wrote saying his son "must have been near Lt Brooks when he was hit as he and another officer rushed out and carried him into the lines" To have been able to do this must mean that Frank had been killed only a few yards into No Man's Land after he went "over the top”. The trench where Frank was originally buried was just south of Fricourt. After the Armistice, many of these small front-line burial areas were closed as the land was returned to civilian use. Frank's body was exhumed and reburied at Dantzig Alley - itself a captured German trench - where his grave is now tended by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.