The Manchester Regiment Forum

The Great War => 1914 - 1918 => Topic started by: Tim Bell on April 13, 2013, 09:57:06 AM

Title: 17th Battalion III Platoon Sergeant Frank Ewart Chandler
Post by: Tim Bell on April 13, 2013, 09:57:06 AM
Frank Chandler Enlisted with 17th Battalion and became Platoon Sergeant.

He was transferred to Royal Engineers Special Company in 1915.  He was subsequently Commissioned, awarded the MC and wounded twice.  In France, he crossed paths with 'his' Battalion on a number of occasions. 

Frank's Gt Grandson has transcribed an interview that has some interesting points about Sgt. Chandler's time with the Battalion.

I'm particularly interested to follow up one of the III Platoon men, but hope others find the extracts interesting.  Thanks to Andrew Chandler for the following:-

Title: Re: 17th Battalion III Platoon Sergeant Frank Ewart Chandler
Post by: Tim Bell on April 13, 2013, 10:03:32 AM
Andrew's Introduction

He was born in Manchester on 10 September 1893. He worked as a pupil teacher before enrolling at what I think was then called the Manchester Municipal School of Technology (now part of Manchester University) to study a combined course involving a teaching diploma and mathematics and applied science. He had completed two years of that course when he enlisted in 1914 and joined the 2nd Battalion of the Manchester Pals.

Frank's interview

We assembled in the centre of Manchester. And I suppose the first thousand were called the 1st  battalion and off they went. The second thousand, I was amongst those, and we were the 2nd battalion and we were led off by a very stalwart ex-soldier, Sergeant-Major, I don’t know I could mention his name, as I’m not going to say anything which is disrespectful, Sergeant-Major Oddy. And he was the only officer in charge and it was a tribute to the enthusiasm of people that they got into fours and stuck into fours, but we noticed at the time there were rather a large number of halts. And every time we halted, it was at a pub. And Oddy would resort to the pub, accompanied by a few of the men that were leading. Well, I think the distance to Heaton Park must have been something like 5 miles, perhaps 4 miles, but I remember Oddy finished the path supported on one side by two or three men and the other side by two or three men. Oh, he was a good Sergeant-Major, a very strong chap. He could take a rifle by the end – not the butt end, the other end – and lift it with one hand, holding at length. We all tried to emulate him, but he was the only one in the battalion that could do it.

Once when we were out during our training, I saw him lift a pony that happened to have strayed into our path, lifted it in the air and pushed it back over the fence. He was extremely strong.

And I saw a fair amount of him, because I became the Sergeant-Major [Roll says Platoon Sgt.] of the A Company. He was the Regimental Sergeant-Major and I would talk to him frequently each morning on the strength of the company. Well I noticed at the time he was wearing dark glasses. He would come on parade wearing dark glasses. The rumour went round the Sergeants’ mess that Sergeant-Major Oddy was working his was out of the battalion. And sure enough, he did. He claimed he was going blind. So he left us. And later the secret of this is that later I was sent from Grantham for training to Manchester in a recruiting week that was being held and the [pardieus] went back and we were allowed to go through the offices and warehouses encouraging young men to come in and join the Manchester Regiment and one of my fellow Sergeants took me down into the basement. He said “I’ve found something that will interest you”. It was Sergeant-Major Oddy who, without glasses, was reading the labels on bales of cloth and throwing them through a window to a man in a cart outside. And he wasn’t very pleased to see us.

Title: Re: 17th Battalion III Platoon Sergeant Frank Ewart Chandler
Post by: Tim Bell on April 13, 2013, 10:05:33 AM
Andrew's Introduction

In 1915, after receiving special training “on raids and counter-raids” he was sent to France in advance of the rest of his Battalion as part of a “Special Company”. He seems to have arrived around the time of the Battle of Loos. Frustratingly he does not give further details about the specific company, other than noting that it later became part of a Special Brigade. I think his regimental number with the Royal Engineers was 113437, but there were various people with very similar names (which are not written in full on the Medal Rolls index Cards). It could also be 53143.

Frank's Interview

We finished at Grantham, went to Salisbury Plain and from there to France. And that would be – I was sent in advance to France as part of a new company that was formed, the Special Company was the name that was given to it, to learn raids and counter-raids. So that I go there before my battalion. We got there in 1915, after the Battle of Loos or whilst the Battle of Loos was still in progress and then was followed by my battalion who arrived in early 1916. Then surely of course we preparing for the Battle of the Somme and saw different parts of the line. And finally the part that we were to be used on was the right of the line, which the Manchester Regiment has always been, they always claimed that they were the right of the line and this was very appropriate that they should be on the 1st July.
Title: Re: 17th Battalion III Platoon Sergeant Frank Ewart Chandler
Post by: Tim Bell on April 13, 2013, 10:07:53 AM
Andrew's Conclusion

He was awarded a Military Cross as listed in the London Gazette on 17 September 1917: “T./2nd Lt. Frank Ewart Chandler, R.E. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. Whilst engaged upon special work behind our front line, circumstances led him to suspect that a hostile raid was approaching, whereupon he manned the parapet and supplied his men with bombs. The raid followed at once, and was repulsed owing to his remarkable foresight and skilful dispositions, and as soon as all was clear again he took his section back and continued work. He has consistently done excellent work and set a splendid example of steady courage.”

He was wounded on 21 March 1918, the first day of the German offensive.

He subsequently returned to teaching and ultimately became Secretary of Education for Worcester. He was awarded an OBE for his civil defence work in WW2.

He died in Leeds on 11 February 1985