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Information from Clive Wood, 2008
Private Frank Thurlow

PLY/16450 Plymouth Battalion Royal Marine Light Infantry

Son of Mr William & Mrs Clara Thurlow

Aged 21 years

Died 3rd May 1915

Commemorated on the Helles Memorial, Turkey
Panel 2 to 7

Born at Rushden.
Note: CWGC gives death date as 3rd May, local newspapers state 13th May, Naval records state 25/26th April 1915.
The Rushden Echo Friday 9 October 1914, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Rushden Soldier at Antwerp - The City 'A Mass of Ruins' - Guns Fired at a Distance of Twelve Miles - Private Thurlow's Clothes Burnt With Missiles from German Guns - Capture of Antwerp Matters Nothing - No Fear of English Invasion

"Antwerp is a mass of ruins, let the papers say what the will, and we got out only by the skin of our teeth," says Private Thurlow, of the Marines, yesterday to a "Rushden Echo" representative. He arrived home yesterday (Thursday) morning, after having fought for several days in Antwerp before its fall.

"Within half-an-hour of our arrival at Antwerp we were under heavy fire. The Germans fired at first from a distance of 12 miles! They had 200 great guns using against us, and we could never get a sight of them although they were doing tremendous damage to the forts.

"I managed to escape from actual wounds but my clothes were torn and burnt with missiles from the German guns. I had no opportunity of seeing how the game fared with our party, but I know we were pretty hard pressed. We could not do much damage with our rifles, as the enemy's infantry would not come within range.

"The projectiles from the biggest guns of the Germans were terribly destructive. Cast steel of any known thickness would be shattered to pieces if hit by these shells, so you can tell what chance human beings have when they are in the road of one of them!

"Of course, the defenders of Antwerp - British, Belgians and French - were hopelessly outclassed by the Germans who had siege guns that could have smashed every man and every gun in the place. We did all we could, but it was

A Forlorn Hope.

But there is no fear of them coming across here.

"People talk about the Germans taking a seaside place as if that is everything. Do you suppose that the Germans are going to have things all their own way? The plucky little Belgians are not going to sit down and let the enemy do just as they like! What does it matter that the town of Antwerp is in their hands. There is absolutely no fear at present of an invasion of England, either by airships or other means.

"But, mind you, things are not going just as the average newspaper readers think. If the truth could be told every Englishman worth the name would want to go and fight. To describe the scenes I saw at Antwerp is an impossibility, and if I attempted to, I doubt whether I should be believed. If I were to stand up before a crowd and try and tell what I have seen it might interest them, but few would take it as the real truth. So terrible was the siege and defence of Antwerp that no words can ever give an idea of it.

"No genuine English people would grudge keeping a soldier if they could be made to understand what British soldiers are going through at the present time and the tremendous amount there is at stake, not to mention the

Great Odds Against Us

It is no light thing to ask a soldier to stand in front of a 18-inch gun; but to get 200 of a similar kind, what chance have you, even though they are a few miles away? The Germans aimed so well that, without exposing themselves, they could play Old Harry with us! It makes you feel a bit — (Private Thurlow coined a very descriptive word) - when you find yourself in such surroundings.

"We left the town in the dark and it was every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost. For some considerable time I got lost, and in a way this was fortunate, as I might have got with the lot who are now in Holland. I found my own party and had 36 hours' march away from the place. Of all pitiful sights, that of the refugees flying away from Antwerp is one I shall never forget. The papers have never exaggerated their miseries at all. In fact they have not given all the truth about these poor people. We passed ten miles of refugees dragging along the best they could, and nine-tenths of them were crying and moaning bitterly. They have little prospect of settled peace even if they get into Holland safely. But our own soldiers who went into Holland are having the time of their lives. They are living on the fat of the land. How long for, one can't say, as you don't know how long Holland will be out of this war."

Private Thurlow, who is a son of Mr and Mrs Thurlow, of Cromwell road, Rushden, uses some very appropriate expressive terms when speaking of his experiences, but our representative put the same meaning in other words! Asked when he thought the war would terminate, Private Thurlow said that was for others to say. He returns to the front within a few days, and is anxious to do his share for the safety of the Homeland.

The Wellingborough News Friday 16 October 1914, transcribed by Nicky Bates

A Merry Marine - Rushden Man in Siege of Antwerp

Private Thurlow, of the Marines, is an elusive sort of soldier in more ways than one. He has been out to Antwerp, so our Rushden representative heard. Private Thurlow told our representative that he was in the siege of Antwerp, and that he was quite well and unwounded.

In response to a query as to why he was sent home, he said "Well I don't know the right of it. It appears that a great quantity of stores, clothing and stuff had to be destroyed when we left Antwerp so that the Germans wouldn't get it. So they haven't the kit to fit all the men up, so half of us were sent home while we get kit."

He talked of the sad state of affairs in the Belgian city, and said the Marines never ought to have been sent there. They were sent without big guns, and were at the mercy of the German artillery.

He proceeded to tell a yarn (perhaps he was "pulling our representative's leg", as he said he could put in what he liked of what he said) of how he happened "to drop beside a major in the trenches". He said to me "What do you think of it, lad?" I said "Rotten, Sir. Here we are with nothing to defend ourselves with except against infantry and cavalry, and there's them Belgian guns can't reach the Germans by miles". And the 'Colonel' said "Quite right my boy. Someone will have to pay for it."

We asked the Marine if he saw a certain cafe in Antwerp, and he replied: "We didn't see much of the city. We just marched through. You hadn't much time to look about you with the shells flying about. I told the other bloke (the journalist) that they weighed a ton or two" he concluded with a chuckle.

"How did you like the French black tobacco?" we asked him, with memory of the stinging, acrid stuff very plain to us.

"Well, you can laugh about it", the reply came, "but it's good enough after smoking dried tea leaves for three days, like I did." He was certainly serious when he spoke of the hospitality of the French and Belgian folk.

"There's always a meal ready for an English soldier in France, or if it ain't ready it soon will be", were his words.

He was also serious when he spoke of French and Belgian soldiers. His martial mind was shocked at the way the soldiers of the Allies wear their uniform. He said "The French and Belgians will go about with their hats on anyhow, and their hand in their pockets - but my, they're good fighters.

"Good hearted, too, why, you start rolling a cigarette when one of 'em's about, and they'll take the paper and 'bacca away and roll it for you in no time.

"You don't fire at a man very often at long ranges, because you ain't likely to hit him. You sometimes get a chance at a man sniping or spying in a tree, and drop him. Generally, you see the enemy in masses, and then you get the order to fire at them. The best way is to wait till the Germans come within 300 yards or so. Then the officer says, 'Fix bay'nits!' and as soon as they see the bay'nits coming over the trenches off they goes.

He told a good story of appreciation of the Belgians. "They get an armoured train", he said, "and off up the line they go. They come across Germans and give 'em hot. Then, as soon as the Germans get the range they shunt off to another position. The Germans are artful, but you've got to be as artful as they are.

"Tell you the truth," he said, "I didn't swear or drink till I went out. It was this way. You can't go about with your tongue hanging out for a drink when there's plenty of beer and wine about. I started swearing when I heard the first 'Jack Jackson' scream over the trench. I felt pretty queer at first but after ten minutes I was joking and laughing same as the others.

"Lost any pals? I should say so. There was a lot went under. We couldn't do anything against German guns. When we retired a lot of our chaps bolted up the road. And I'm afraid they got it badly, for there were two German field guns trained on the road. I went off along the by-streets and so got away". He was in Dunkirk when there were several scraps, but he was not in them, he says. [This article was also in the Rushden Argus on the same date]

The Rushden Echo Friday 30 October 1914, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Rushden Marine Again at the Front

Private Thurlow, who recently related some interesting experiences of Antwerp to a "Rushden Echo" representative (the account appearing in the "Rushden Echo" on Oct. 9th[sic]), is now off for active service again.

Private Thurlow, who left Rushden on Monday, was at home for nearly three weeks.

Evening Telegraph, Tuesday 18th May 1915, transcribed by John Collins.

Rushden Marine Missing

Mr. and Mrs. Thurlow, of Cromwell-road, Rushden, received from the War Office on Sunday a paper stating that their elder son, Pte. Frank Thurlow, of the Plymouth Division, Royal Marines, is missing in the Dardanelles. Pte. Thurlow was in the Marines when war broke out. He left home at Christmas-time, bound for Egypt. Since then his parents have heard nothing from him. He has evidently been in the recent severe fighting in the Dardanelles, as the War Office say that he was missing on May 13th. Any news of him would be welcomed by Mr. and Mrs. Thurlow.

The Rushden Echo Friday 21 May 1915, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Rushden Marine Missing - Pte Frank Thurlow - In the Dardanelles Fight

Pte Frank Thurlow, of the Plymouth Division, Royal Marines, son of Mr and Mrs Thurlow, of Cromwell road, Rushden, is missing in the Dardanelles. He was in the Marines when war broke out and left home at Christmas-time for Egypt. Since then his parents have heard nothing from him. He has evidently been in recent severe fighting in the Dardenelles, as the War Office say that he was missing on May 13th.

The Rushden Echo Friday 7 July 1916, transcribed by Nicky Bates

Rushden Soldier Missing - Pte Frank Thurlow - Now Accepted as Killed On the Gallipoli Peninsula

Mr and Mrs William Thurlow, of 153, Cromwell-road, Rushden, have now received news from the RC Royal Naval Division, stating that the death of their son, Pte Frank Thurlow, of the Plymouth Battalion, RMLI, has now been official accepted. As reported in the "Rushden Echo" as the time, Pte Thurlow has now been missing since May 13th, 1915.

The letter from the Record Office, which was accompanied by the usual letter of sympathy form the King and Queen, is as follows:-

"I deeply regret to inform you that the death of your son Private Frank Thurlow, Ply, 16450, has now been officially accepted. It has been assumed that he was killed in action when serving with the Plymouth Battalion, RMLI, on the Gallipoli Peninsula, upon May 13th, 1915. Previously he was only officially reported as missing. I have the honour to be, sir, your obedient servant, A Randall Wells, Lieut Commander, RNVR, O in C Records, RON"

The late Pte Thurlow who would have been 21 years of age last September has he survived, enlisted about 12 months before the outbreak of war. Prior to his enlistment he was employed by Messrs. B Denton and Sons, Rushden. As a lad he was a member of the Rushden St Mary's CLB.

Wellingborough News, July 14 1916, transcribed by Clive Wood

Rushden Man Reported Killed

Mr & Mrs Wm Thurlow of 153, Cromwell-road, Rushden, have received news from the Record Office of the Royal Naval Division to the effect that the death of their son Pte. Frank Thurlow, Plymouth Battalion, R.M.L.I. has now been accepted. Pte Thurlow has been ‘missing’ since May 13 1915.

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