Lieutenant William Ronald Frost MC

Researched and written by Anne Wright

Lt R W Frost, MC
‘D’ Battery, 94th Brigade, Royal field Artillery
Killed, 10.10.1917
Age, 29

Although baptised William Ronald Frost on 12 August 1888 at St. Mary’s Church in Merton, he seems to have been known as Ronald William. He was born on 26 May 1888 in Merton to Walter Ernest and Helen Jane (nee Lamb) Frost. Ronald was the youngest of six children. He had four brothers and one sister: Walter, Robert, Alfred, Bernard and Hilda. Their parents had married on 6 August 1874 at St. Martin’s in the Fields, Westminster. Both had been born in London. Ernest was a woollen merchant, so Ronald was born into a comfortable home, which always had domestic staff.

The family residence in 1891 was at Sunnybank, Morden Road in Merton. Ten years later Weybridge was their home. They lived at Hillside on Monument Hill. None of the children appear at this address in 1911. The five eldest were certainly old enough to be married and have their own families. Ronald had gone abroad; he sailed for New York on 10 October 1908 aboard SS Mauretania arriving seven days later, his final destination was Seattle. He listed no occupation on the Passengers’ Manifest. Seven years later on 17 July 1915 he arrived home from Montreal on ‘Metagama’ citing his parents address in Weybridge as his place of residence in the UK. Ronald gave his occupation as miner and confirmes that his last place of permanent residence had been the USA.

Two months later he was in France with ‘D’ Battery (Howitzers) of the 94th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery and part of the 21st Division. There was little time to acclimatise; Ronald’s first taste of action was on 26 September in the Battle of Loos. He saw further action in the Battle of the Somme 1916, including a bombardment at Becordel on 1 July, the first day of the battle and bombarding Mametz Wood on 10 July; the Arras Offensive in 1917, saw him and his comrades supporting an infantry attack by firing on the Croisilles-Henin Road and Croisilles itself on 2 April. These are but brief glimpses of the 94th Battery’s contribution to these great battles; during the early part of 1917 Ronald’s bravery saved lives and led to him being awarded the Military Cross. This was recorded in the 94th’s War Diary on 12 July and the following citation appeared in the Supplement to the London Gazette on 17 September:

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty under heavy shell fire, in rescuing a detachment of his battery from a dug-out which had been blown in by hostile shelling. This action was done at great personal risk, and throughout the bombardment he continued to display the greatest coolness and courage.

Ronald’s final battle was the Third Battle of Ypres (‘Passchendaele’) which lasted from 31 July until 10 November 1917. It was fought under some of the most atrocious conditions of the war: heavy rainfall and almost unrelenting bombardments turned the land into a treacherous quagmire. On 1 October the 94th Battery occupied gun positions at Stirling Castle (chateau) and Sanctuary Wood to the SE of Ypres. Barrages were carried out over the next few days including a Corps Barrage begun at 4.45am on 10 October; Ronald was killed on this day.

He is buried in The Huts Cemetery (X.B.7) 6km SW of Ypres (now Ieper). Ronald was commemorated on Oatlands Village War Memorial. His parents had moved to Walton-on-Thames by 1919 and his father was still on the Electoral Register there in 1934.

Sources:

England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1861-1961, www.ancestry.co.uk
Frost Family Tree, www.ancestry.co.uk
New York, Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957, www.ancestry.co.uk
Surrey, England, Church of England Baptisms, 1813-1912, www.ancestry.co.uk
UK, Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960, www.ancestry.co.uk
UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919, www.ancestry.co.uk

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