Researched and written by Anne Wright
Pte M Frost, MC
10th Battalion, Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent) Regiment
Killed in action, 30.9.1916
Matthew Frost’s parents, Frederick and Ellen (nee Leonard), were married on Christmas Day 1876 at St. Andrew’s Church in Cobham. He was a native of Cobham and she was born in Dublin, the daughter of a soldier. They had seven children, one of whom died. Matthew, probably named for his paternal grandfather, was the youngest surviving child. He had three brothers and two sisters: Ellen, George, Arthur, Harriett and Frederick. Matthew was born on 12 November 1890 in Weybridge and was baptised there at St. James’ Church on 16 January 1891. By this year the family was living at St. George’s Hill Lodge. Frederick Frost was a domestic gardener. Ten years later the whole family still lived at the same address. In 1911 their residence was The Lodge, Cavendish Road, St. George’s Hill; all four sons were also domestic gardeners.
Matthew enlisted in Weybridge; he stood almost 5 feet 10 inches tall, had a fresh complexion, brown hair and blue eyes. He was posted to the 3/4th Battalion, the Leicestershire Regiment (6077) on 29 March 1916. Matthew had attested on 29 February 1916 and spent the time between then and his posting in the Army Reserve. This unit was a home battalion and in May 1916 Matthew was at a training camp in Yorkshire. With the Battle of the Somme underway he was transferred to the 1/4th Battalion in the same regiment on 11 July 1916. He embarked from Folkestone on the same day and disembarked the following day at Boulogne. Matthew’s new battalion had first arrived in France in 1915. They were part of the 138th Brigade of the 46th (N. Midland) Division. This division had already suffered terribly at the Battle of Loos, the 1/4st Leicestershire Battalion alone had lost 20 officers and 453 other ranks in the attack on the Hohenzollern Redoubt. The 46th was then sent to Egypt only to receive orders almost immediately on arrival to return home. By the 9 March 1916 they were back on the Western Front weakened by illness and the slow pace of reinforcements following the Battle of Loos, especially of experienced officers. Just eleven days before Matthew joined them the division had suffered heavy casualties on the Somme in the diversionary attack on Gommecourt.
Matthew was with the 1/4st Leicestershire Battalion for only two months before being one of 50 men to join the 10th Battalion, Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent) Regiment at Bercordel on 7 September. His new unit was in the 123rd Brigade of the 41st Division. They were soon to be involved in the Battle of Flers-Courcelette, part of the last British offensive on the Somme in 1916 and the first occasion on which tanks were used. By 15 September they were in position south of Flers as a reserve battalion. They were heavily shelled over the next two days before being relieved to go to the rest camp at Bercordel. Nineteen of Matthew’s comrades had been killed in this short time. They had just over a week’s rest and training before being sent back to the front where they arrived on 28 September. During the two days they spent there they were subjected to heavy enemy shelling: between 28-30 September 7 men were killed, 40 wounded and 5 reported missing. Matthew was among the fatalities on 30 September.
He has no known grave. Matthew is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial with more than 72,000 others. By 1919 Frederick and Ellen Frost and their eldest son George had moved to Walpole Stables, The Heath, Weybridge; he had enlisted in October 1915 only to be discharged on medical grounds six weeks later. Matthew’s brothers Arthur and Frederick lived in Cobham and Addlestone respectively. His parents and George remained in Weybridge; Frederick and his son were still on the Electoral Register in 1945.
British Army WW1 Service Records, 1914-1920, www.ancestry.co.uk
Gommecourt, 1 July 1916, www.gommecourt.co.uk
Surrey, England, Church of England Baptisms, 1813-1912, www.ancestry.co.uk
Surrey, England, Electoral Registers, 1832-1962, www.ancestry.co.uk
Surrey, England, Church of England Marriages, 1754-1937, www.ancestry.co.uk
The British Army in the Great War of 191401918, The Long, Long Trail – 46th (N. Midland) Division, www.longlongtrail.co.uk