1890 - 1915
HARRY FRANKLIN was born in June 1890 at Fanners Green, Great Waltham, the second son of William Thomas and Lucy Mary Franklin (née Chitticks). He was baptised in the Parish Church in the village on the 6th July 1890.
His parents were married in 1887 in Chelmsford. Lucy was born in Burnham on Crouch and William was born in Broads Green, Great Waltham.
Harry was the second eldest of six children. He had one elder brother, William Thomas George, three younger sisters, Ellen Mary, Florence Abigail and Annie and one younger brother, Albert Charles. In 1891 the family were living at Fanners Green, Great Waltham. William was an Agricultural Labourer, Harry was 10 months old.
By 1911, Harry, aged 21 years, was an Agricultural Labourer.
Harry enlisted for four years in the Territorial Force 5th Battalion of the Norfolk Regiment as a Private, Regimental number 2865 on the 4th July 1914, at Great Yarmouth. At the time he was living at 1, Gordon Road, Great Yarmouth. At Harry’s medical inspection on the 9th September 1914, he was 5ft 5½” high, with a 36” chest and although he had bad teeth, he was declared physically fit.
The Norfolk Regiment, made up of 250 men, 16 officers, and led by Sir Horace Proctor-Beauchamp, set out for the Gallipoli Peninsula from Liverpool on July 30, 1915 aboard the SS Aquitainia and arrived at Suvla Bay in Gallipoli on 10 August 1915 amidst heavy fighting. They did not have to wait long to see battle themselves. On the 12th August, just two days after their arrival, the 5th Norfolks, as part of the 163rd Brigade, were ordered to launch an offensive against Turkish positions holding the Anafarta Plain in order to clear them out ahead of a planned Allied advance. From the beginning the mission was faced with setbacks. The men were in poor physical condition due to the rigors of their journey, the side effects of inoculations, a lack of sleep, and the harsh, brutally hot and arid climate of the area. Many of them were sick with dysentery, and general morale was low. In addition, the advance was to be carried out in broad daylight, with poor supplies, inadequate water, and with inaccurate maps, against seasoned Turkish fighters who knew the land well and were deeply dug in along ridges. Additionally, the objective of the mission was not made particularly clear, with some of the men thinking that they were to attack the village of Anafarta Saga rather than clear the way for the British assault. It is perhaps no surprise that the attack turned into a massacre.
The exhausted, thirsty, and sick men first made an error and turned the wrong way, separating them from the larger 163rd Brigade. Realizing their mistake, they nevertheless prepared to advance against Kavak Tepe ridge without support or reinforcements. When they did, they were immediately met with a rain of machine gun fire and picked off by numerous snipers entrenched in the ridge and sitting in trees. The Norfolk Regiment bravely pressed on into this maelstrom of blood and bullets, actually managing to push the enemy back towards a forest that was ablaze from artillery fire. Beauchamp and his men continued the charge into the burning forest, and that was the last anyone would ever see of them. The battalion would never emerge from the forest, none would come back to tell the tale, and by most accounts they had simply vanished from the face of the earth. It is from this charge into the smoke and trees that the mystique and mystery of the vanished Royal Norfolk Regiment really takes off.
It was assumed at the time that the men had been captured by Turkish forces and held as prisoners of war. The British made inquiries to the Turkish government as to whether they had taken the men as prisoners, but they denied having any knowledge of the Norfolks. When the war was over, the British demanded the return of the soldiers, but again the Turks adamantly denied having them, and indeed declared that they had never even heard of them. The War Graves Commission carried out searches for war dead on the battlefields of Gallipoli in 1918, which would meet with mixed success, as 14,000 of the 36,000 Commonwealth soldiers who had died in the bloody campaign were never found, and another 13,000 were uncovered in unidentified graves. During one of these searches, a Rev Charles Pierrepoint Edwards found a Norfolks regimental cap badge, along with 180 bodies scattered about around a farmhouse surrounded by the wooded area in which the men had last been seen. 122 of the bodies were found to have shoulder badges that identified them as members of the Norfolks, and one was even identified by his shoulder flashes as Lt-Col Beauchamp himself. At the time this was seen as definitive proof as to the fate of the regiment, and it was a pretty closed case, yet the case of the “Vanished Battalion” would only get weirder in the ensuing years.
The Norfolk’s were likely captured and mercilessly executed, after which they had been left to rot where they lie and their fate covered up by the War Office, as well as the commander of the campaign, Sir Ian Hamilton.
Death and Memorial
There was some dispute about the date that this massacre happened. The original date is the 12th August 1915, (which appears on Harry’s Commonwealth War Grave Memorial and is probably correct), although Harry was officially reported missing on the 28th August and declared as having died on this date. This date was confirmed to his mother, by the War Office on the 7th November 1916, aged 24 years.
Harry is ‘Remembered with Honour’ on the Helles Memorial, Turkey. Panel 42-45.
Harry is also Remembered on the War Memorial in Great Waltham.
Lucy, his mother was his next of kin and she received the total sum of £8.1s. 8d on the 7th November 1916 with a further War Gratuity payment on the 11th September 1919 of £3.