60840, Royal Flying Corps who died on 26 September 1917
Frank Cecil was born in Rotherham in 1877, the second child of Frank and Ann (nee Everest) Foers. His sister Caroline Everest was born in 1875 and his younger brother, Harold Pashley, was born in 1881. The Foers family was well-established in the Rotherham area, Frank Cecil’s grandfather James, born 1880, farmed at Whiston, just outside Rotherham at the time of his son, Frank’s marriage to Ann Everest, in 1872, at Rugby. At this time Frank, aged twenty seven, was an inn-keeper and law clerk, living at The Cross Keys, 31 Cattle Market, Rotherham.
Ann Everest’s family lived at Oundle at the time of her birth, in 1850. Her father is recorded as a coal merchant in the 1851 census, but by 1853, he was a railway clerk and by 1861, he was a railway cattle inspector, living in Aston, Birmingham. Like many railway workers families, they moved frequently as her father pursued work and promotion around the country. Some stability after her marriage to Frank Foers in 1872 must have been welcomed by Ann.
Frank and Ann Foers were still at The Cross Keys in 1881 but by 1891, they had moved to The Ship Hotel, 2 Woolgate, Rotherham, a large property, built in 1838. This was a profitable business and their income benefited from monthly horse sales, held in the yard of the Ship Hotel, from the 1890s. It meant that Frank and Ann were able to privately educate their sons Frank Cecil and Harold, at Archbishop Holgate’s School, York.
In the 1901 census Frank Cecil and Harold were listed as still living with their parents at the Ship Hotel. Frank, now aged 23, was working as a grocer’s assistant while Harold was an analytical chemist’s assistant. At some point between then and 1911, Frank Cecil became a commercial traveller, selling starch and blue bags; the latter to increase the whiteness of white linen in the days when all washing was done by hand. His father Frank Snr, died in Market Harborough in 1910, aged sixty six, but whether he was visiting the area or that the family had moved home is unknown. His widow, Ann, was living in Southport, Lancashire in 1911. She died there in December 1930.
In the 1911 census Frank Cecil is recorded as a commercial traveller, boarding at Lynwood Gwendolen Road, Leicester. In 1912 he married Helen Maria Robinson at Barton upon Irwell, where she had been born in July 1882. Prior to her marriage, Helen lived at home with her father, stepmother, sister and a general servant. She had no occupation. Her father was a paper and twine merchant and her brother Charles was a traveller in the same business.
In 1913 the family moved into Pendyffryn, Oadby, one of the new properties built immediately before the war. At the outbreak of hostilities all work on ‘the new estate’, which also included The Oval, ceased and the homes were isolated until the 1920s. At the time there was much concern from the residents as work had ceased on the new estate before work could be completed to connect the houses to the main sewer system. It seems that throughout the war residents had to resort to night soil latrines…..probably not something they had anticipated when they bought new houses.
Helen and Frank’s daughter, Doreen, was born in December 1913 at Pendyffryn. Helen and Doreen were still living at Pendyffryn in 1939 with Doreen working as physiotherapist
No service record survives for Frank so we must piece together his war service from other sources.
Frank was called up after conscription was introduced in 1916. The age limit for conscription was 41 so Frank was probably assigned to a non-combatant role which matched his particular skill set.
We know that in 1916 he was working for the British Petroleum Company in Ashby de la Zouche as he wrote a letter on company letterhead to arrange for a recently deceased relative, Robert Henry Foers, serving with the Australian Infantry Force, to be buried in the family plot at Wiston.
Frank had received a good education and as a travelling salesman for BP possibly had some knowledge of engines. At the time of his death Frank was an Air Mechanic 2nd Class in the Royal Flying Corps. It is likely, given his place of death, that Frank was stationed at Catterick Airfield in North Yorkshire. The airfield was opened in 1914 to train pilots. He was admitted to Catterick Camp military hospital and died there on 26 September 1917. No further details have yet been found.
Recruitment poster for the Royal Flying Corps
Catterick Camp Military Hospital comprised 750 beds in wooden huts.
Frank’s grave in Moorgate Cemetery, Rotherham does not have Commonwealth War Graves Association headstone but he is Remembered with Honour on a Foers family plot with the Royal Flying Corps motto ‘per ardua ad astra’ (through struggle to the stars). He is also remembered on the Oadby War Memorial.