1/5th (The Weald of Kent) Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment), (Territorial Force).

Born Wednesday 3 January 1883    Died Friday 7 January 1916. Aged 33.

Son of Curtis Milton of Cherry Garden, Bonnington, Hythe, Kent and of the late Mrs. Martha Milton (née Sharwood).

Commemorated on the Basra Memorial, Iraq. Panel 6, and in The Buffs Book of Life in the Warriors Chapel, Canterbury Cathedral, Kent.

frank curtis miltonFrank was born in Bonnington on Wednesday 3 January 1883, and his birth recorded in the East Ashford, Kent Registration District during the first quarter of 1883.

He enlisted in the Territorial Force at Aldington on Tuesday 3 December 1912, signing up for ‘4 years’ Service, in the United Kingdom,’ at which time he stated that he was 28 years old, and employed as a Labourer by Mr. Earl of Aldington, Hythe. On the same day as enlisting, Frank was attested at the Drill Hall, Newtown Road, Ashford, Kent to serve as a Private in the 1/5th (The Weald of Kent) Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment), (Territorial Force).

Frank was stationed at Sandwich, Kent on Wednesday 14 October 1914 when he signed a copy of Army Form E.624, which was a form signed by all ranks of Territorial Force, who agreed to serve outside the United Kingdom in the event of a National Emergency, the Great War of course being such a emergency.  He continued to serve in the United Kingdom for exactly two years until on Thursday 3 December 1914 he was posted to India with his battalion. The majority of Franks’ wartime service was spent serving in India; he had only served in Mesopotamia with the Indian Expeditionary Force “D” for 34 days prior to his death. The Indian Expeditionary Force “D” served in Mesopotamia from Sunday 6 November 1914 until Tuesday 1 May 1917.

Frank died on the second day of the three day ‘Battle of Sheikh Sa’ad’ which was fought on the River Tigris, at a point where the Turkish Army had established a camp holding approximately 4000 troops. The action was an attempt to relieve the besieged force at Kut-al-Amara. During the battle, Franks battalion advanced towards the enemy, but as with the other units also attacking the entrenched Ottoman forces during the battle, it did so without any supporting artillery, this being in stark contrast to the opposition, as the battalion came under extremely heavy artillery bombardment.

As the day wore on the battalion started to suffer increasing casualties, which included the death of the battalion Adjutant, 24 year old Lieutenant Hugh S. Marchant, from Matfield, Paddock Wood, Kent. In addition to the loss of the Adjutant, the Commanding Officer,Lieutenant Colonel J. M. Munn-Mace was wounded as was Major Eric Clarke. Frank was numbered among the 3 officers and 37 other ranks other ranks in his battalion who were killed in action at Sheikh Sa’ad on Saturday 7 January 1916, of whom 34 are at rest at Amara War Cemetery, Iraq and the other 6 including Frank are commemorated on the Basra Memorial.

Purely supposition on the part of the compiler, and should therefore be viewed as such, but as Frank has no known grave and his battalion was shelled by Turkish artillery during the ‘Battle of Sheikh Sa’ad,’ it would seem highly likely that his death was due to shellfire.

On Thursday 22 January 1920, Curtis Milton signed a copy of Army Form W.5080 in order to be sent a bronze memorial plaque (aka Dead Man’s Penny) and accompanying certificate in memory of Frank. The form was witnessed by the Vicar of Bonnington, the Reverend William Henry Symonds.

Commemorating 40641 identified casualties, the Basra Memorial was located on the main quay of the naval dockyard at Maqil until 1997. This is on the west bank of the Shatt-al-Arab, approximately 5 miles north of Basra. Because of the sensitivity of the site, the Memorial was moved by presidential decree. The move, carried out by the authorities in Iraq, involved a considerable amount of manpower, transport costs and sheer engineering on their part, and the Memorial has been re-erected in its entirety. The Basra Memorial is now located 20 miles along the road to Nasiriyah, in the middle of what was a major battleground during the first Gulf War. Casualties on the Basra Memorial are listed under the regiment or corps they served with, in rank order.

The photograph of Franks’ commemoration on the Basra Memorial shown above was taken for the compiler during the Second Gulf War, as was the photograph of the memorial shown below.