Text written by Pia Chamberlain.
The following was previously printed in a pamphlet available at St Andrew’s Church, Kingswood, Battle of the Somme, 1st July – 18th November 1916, The Fallen of Kingswood and Tadworth.
Frank Street was born in 1871 in Maida Vale, London, the second son of John Banfield Street, a barrister, and Eliza Martha Ellen Street.
He was educated at Westminster School, where he was in the Westminster Eleven in 1888 and 1889. He then went on to Christ Church College, Oxford, where he obtained his Blue for Association football. He was later to play cricket for Essex.
By 1901 he had qualified as a schoolmaster and was living with his widowed mother, brothers and sister in Beckenham, Kent. By 1911 he had become a housemaster at Uppingham School, in Rutland. He had been gazetted in 1908 in the Uppingham School Contingent, Junior Division.
Some sources would indicate that he married Marian Willoughby Greenhill in 1911.
At the outbreak of war he served in the ranks until being commissioned a Lieutenant in the 9th (Service) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers. His mother had by then moved to Tadworth, where she lived at Duryard with Frank’s sister, Edith.
During the Battle of the Somme, Frank’s battalion, the 9th Royal Fusiliers, had already been engaged around Ovillers for several days. On 7th July, the 8th and 9th Battalions of the Royal Fusiliers made another attempt to capture the village. The 8th were on the right flank, the 9th on the left with the 7th Sussex between them. Immediately in front of them lay the heap of rubble which had once been a village. Amongst those ruins lurked the Fusiliers of the Prussian Guard, renowned for being among the best soldiers in Europe. The British troops had lain in waiting in the trenches while being pounded by a terrific German artillery fire. There were considerable casualties among them even before the first men crawled over the parapet and lay in the open. As they were crossing No Man’s Land, bullets were beating down on them from every side. The advance was made even more difficult by the heavy weather, which held down the fumes from the gas shells, with the result that the craters in which the men took refuge were turned into death traps from which many never emerged. Although the first and second German trenches were captured, the cost was terrible. Of the two battalions of Royal Fusiliers, only about 180 men survived and all their officers were killed, among them Frank Street. As dusk fell, two companies of the supporting Middlesex battalion were sent up to strengthen the line. Ovillers held out for a few more days and it was not taken until the village had been obliterated more completely than any other in the Somme area.
Frank Street’s body was never recovered. He was aged 46 when he died and his name appears on the Thiepval Memorial.