Frank Hugh Colbern

Date of birth:  between January and March 1892
Place of birth:  Christchurch
Service No.:  7201
Rank: Lieutenant Corporal
Regiment / Division:  14th Kings Hussars
Died: 17th August 1916 aged 24 years
Death location: Turkey (whilst in captivity)

Military Service
Frank Hugh Colbern’s military record has not survived. The following information on his military service is transcribed from The National Roll of Honour: “Frank enlisted in March 1911 (service number 7201) and was sent to India where he was attached to the 34th divisional Signal Company Indian Expeditionary Force” C squadron in the 14th Kings Hussars (formed in August 1914 in Mhow in India), part of the Meerut Cavalry Brigade.

In September 1914 the Hussars came under command of 14th Cavalry Brigade in Meerut Divisional Area.
In November 1915 they Hussars left this Brigade and landed in Mesopotamia, where they came under orders of 6th Indian Cavalry Brigade under General Charles Vere Ferrers Townshend.
In early 1915 General Townshend had begun an advance up the Tigris river with the goal of capturing Baghdad, the headquarters of the Turkish Army. The advance went well initially, Amarah was captured on 3 June 1915 (largely by bluff). The advance resumed three months later and Kut was captured on 28 September 1915. Around 1 November, the 6th Indian Army left Kut and marched up the Tigris river. They were attacked. Townshend, having lost 1/3 of his division, retreated back to Kut arriving on 3 December 1915. The enemy followed, arriving at Kut on 7 December. The siege of Kut was a drawn out and bitter affair for the British army. Frank Hugh Colbern was captured at Kut when General Townshend surrendered on 29 April 1916.

Frank Hugh Colbern died on 17th August 1916 in Turkey whilst in captivity, aged 24. He is buried in Baghdad at the Northgate. (Captivity and death details from roll of honour, circumstances leading to capture from Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archive via Wikipedia)

He was posthumously awarded the Victory medal, the British medal and 1915 Star medal in recognition of his services to his country and is inscribed on the cenotaph at Southampton “lest we forget” and on the Baghdad (North Gate) War Cemetery, Grave /
Memorial Reference XXI. B. 36.

The Star campaign medal of the British Empire was awarded for service in World War One. Also known as the Mons Star. This medal was sometimes irreverently referred to as ‘Pip’.
The British War Medal was awarded for service in World War One. Also called the British Empire campaign medal, it was issued for services between 5th August 1914 and 11th November 1918. The medal was automatically awarded in the event of death on active service. This medal was sometimes irreverently referred to as ‘Squeak’.
The Victory medal, also called the Inter Allied Victory Medal was awarded to those who received the British War Medal and was sometimes irreverently referred to as ‘Wilfred’.

Life before the war
The birth of Frank Hugh Colbern was recorded in the first quarter of 1892 in Vol2b p638 of the Christchurch register, in Bournemouth, Dorset. He was born the second son of corporation dustman Jacob Colbern (born 1865 in Edmondsham, Dorset) and Maria nee Elliott (born 1867 in Cranborne, Dorset)
His parents had married in the first quarter of 1891. Their marriage was registered in Wimborne district vol5a page433.
They had a total of 5 children.
The following children of Jacob and Maria Colbern are confirmed from parish records:

  1. Herbert George Elliott was baptised on 28th July 1888 to unwed mother Maria Elliott in Cranborne. He died in 1916
  2. Frank Hugh was born in 1892
  3.  Ethel M was born in 1894. She probably married Alfred Jesty in 1912 in Alverstoke, Dorset and they had one daughter, Irene born in 1913.
  4.  Elsie May was born in 1898. No further information was found for her.
  5.  Beatrice Annie was born in 1900. In 1922 she married Arthur Best and they had 1 daughter, Edna born in 1928.

No census record of the family was found for 1891. It is likely they were in the Bournemouth area given the birthplace of their daughter in 1894.  By 1898 they were in Southampton.
In 1901 the family lived at 8 William Street, St Marys Southampton. His father Jacob was employed as a corporation dustman.
In 1911 the family lived at 2 Graham Street Southampton. His father was employed as a corporation labourer.
However in 1911, Frank Hugh Colbern (single), a private in the Hussars of the line, aged 19 was enumerated at Scalby, Yorkshire with the rest of his regiment.

Researched by DHW – March 2013.
If you have any more information about the above named person, or any other name listed on this website or Southampton’s Cenotaph, please email, or telephone 023 8086 9599 and we will contact you.  Many thanks.

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