Frank Wheelhouse was born on 6th Apr 1893 at Eckington. The 1901 census shows that Frank and his mother Mary were living at Springwell, Handley. There was a colliery at Springwell originally owned by the Barrow family, but by 1901 it had been sold to the Staveley coal and iron company.
It would appear that Mary and her son were living in the house of Mercy Knight, Mary being listed as a servant in the house.
The school attendance log for Handley Church of England School gives more information on the early life of Frank Wheelhouse.
Frank was admitted to the school on 4th March 1901and his address is recorded as ‘Pit houses’, September 1902 he was taken out of school as the family appear to have moved to Whittington, he was readmitted on November 3 1902, and April 1903 he was removed from the school for the last time.
The reason for this move in 1903 was because Franks mother remarried – James Henry Wright from Barlborough and the next available information for Frank is the school attendance record for Barlboro Hall primary school.
There is a further school record for Frank in April 1904 when he is admitted to Shirebrook Junior Boys school his address is now given as Church Drive. His last school is recorded as Barlborough, which gives me confidence this is the right person, but he leaves Shirebrook School in December 1904 and it just records left the district.
Franks stepfather was a mine worker and there was a colliery at Shirebrook, whether that was the reason for the move and where the family moved to next I am afraid I cannot confirm at the moment.
By the time of the 1911 census Frank would be 17 years old nearly 18 as the census was taken on the night of 2nd April that year. I haven’t been able to positively identify him on the census for that year as yet.
Frank Wheelhouse has taken quite a time to find as when he enlisted it was in the name of Frank Morgan, his pension record card was issued in the name of Frank Morgan alias Wheelhouse!
Frank joined the Territorial Force of the Sherwoods in 1912, he enlisted in Brimington for the statutory period of four years, and joined the 1/6th Battalion Sherwood Foresters on 1st May 1912. He was living at High St Barlborough when he enlisted and his occupation was given as miner, working at Shireoaks colliery.
In 1912 when Frank enlisted there would have been no thought of war and for the Territorial force some training was spent on weekends away at different locations. In August 1912 the Battalion attended the annual training camp in North Wales.
The following year the Battalion were camped at Clumber Park for two weeks. According to Franks service record he was ‘embodied’ (called up for service) on 5th August 1914.
Early in 1915, before Frank left for France he married Nellie Hubbard of Old Whittington at Old Whittington church.
Nellie gave birth to twin girls later that year, Nellie and Mary, but whether Frank ever met his daughters we will never know. His wife was now living at 61 Johnson Street Sheepbridge.
In May 1915 the 1/6th Battalion became part of 139th Brigade in 46th (North Midland ) Division.
Frank arrived in France on 25th June 1915, and would have gone straight to the area around the Ypres Salient.
The 1/6th battalion were involved in fighting around Hooge (approx. 4 kms east from Ypres) and Sanctuary Wood.
Frank was injured on 4th July 1915 with a gunshot wound to the buttocks, he must have been sent straight back to the front as he was killed in action on 15th August 1915 after being in France for less than two months. The personal effects sent back to Nellie included a watch strap, purse and a letter.
An obituary for Frank gives an account of the terrible conditions in which he died :
Transcription of a letter from Private Horace Allen to Franks mother from Derbyshire Courier 28th August 1915, it is not for the squeamish!
“We are still in the trenches, but I expect we shall get relieved on Saturday night. At any rate I hope so, for it has been the hottest time I have had in the trenches. It has really been hell upon earth. The Germans shelled us out of the trenches but we stuck it. It was a shame to see our comrades fall, some with legs blown off, some with their heads blown off, and the trenches were like slaughterhouses. Frank Morgan Wheelhouse of Barlborough has got killed, he got his head blown off. It was simple murder and I thought my time had come, but I managed to escape the shells that were flying all around us. We have not many men left in our platoon now”.
Private Allen then writes on a more optimistic note:
“It would not surprise me if we were in England before long, as they say we are coming back for three months to rest, and then we are coming back again in the Spring. But I think it will be over by November as we are going to make it hot for the Huns. We are close to a village——–, and the Germans are at present holding it, but it has to be taken at all costs”.
Little did he know then that the war would continue for another three years!
Picture taken from Derbyshire Courier 28th August 1915.
Frank Wheelhouse ( or Morgan) is remembered on the Menin Gate memorial at Ypres under the name of Frank Morgan. More information on the Menin Gate memorial at
Frank Morgan (Wheelhouse) was awarded the British War and Victory medals and the 14/15 Star.
Nellie Wheelhouse was awarded a War Pension for her and her girls, and his Pension record card recorded him as Morgan Frank alias Wheelhouse.
The tragedy hadn’t finished for Nellie Wheelhouse, for on the 8th October 1916 her twin daughters died.
However, on 29th August 1917 Nellies life changed again when she married Joseph Thompson, Sexton at Old Whittington church, and they set up home together at Church Street Old Whittington.
Frank (Morgan) Wheelhouse is remembered on Old Whittington and the Brushes War memorials. He is also remembered as F M Wheelhouse on Barlborough War Memorial.
Picture taken from https://www.warmemorialsonline.org.uk/memorial/216679/
Derbyshire Courier 28th August 1915