The Gifted Science Student
Who valued not his life so much as to run and end his course with joy3.
Far from Cockshutt, amidst the lush, fragrant foothills of Darjeeling, India8, Frank Harold Elwin was born on 22nd September 189517. He was the only son of Tea Planter James and his wife Isabel Mary13 whom, through hard work were able to provide their family with a life of indubitable luxury in the most exotic of surroundings.
But, as with all good things, these halcyon days for Frank soon came to an end. Recognising that the foundation of prosperity and success was that of a good education, James and Isabel resolved that this would be best achieved in England. That being the case, by the age of six1, Frank had been taken to Kent in the South East of England, where he lived for several years with family friends whilst being schooled1.
In 19095 Frank’s life changed course once again as he moved to Shropshire and entered Shrewsbury School5 where he remained until 191423. It was during this time that he fostered his connection with Cockshutt, living in the Vicarage, with family friends, Rev. and Mrs John Rowley Donald, Vicar of Ss Simon and Jude, whilst in Shropshire2.
At school, Frank earned the reputation as a talented and hard-working academic and sportsman with a natural gift for leadership9. Impassioned about rowing, clearly skilled and competitive, Frank secured himself a place in the VIII22 for two years and was made Captain of the Headroom Boats5. In the classroom, he excelled in Science9 and was duly offered a place at King’s College Cambridge to further his studies32.
As the summer of 1914 dawned Frank’s future was seemingly full of promise, with new horizons opening up before him, but within weeks those dreams lay in pieces as the calamitous events across Europe led to the declaration of war, which impacted everyone.
Within a month of the outbreak of hostilities, Frank, now an “Old Boy” of Shrewsbury School and its Officer Training Cadets (OTC), had voluntarily34 enlisted with the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry (KSLI)5. By early November he had accepted “with some reluctance”5 a commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion of the Wiltshire Regiment5, after which he was transferred to the 2nd Battalion34.
On 24th February 1915, 2nd Lieut. F H Elwin embarked for France, thus entering the Western Front Theatre of War4; by the middle of March he was engaged in the first significant British offensive, The Battle of Neuve Chapelle25, its objective being to rupture the German bulge into France30. After enduring two days of fierce fighting26, Lieut. FH Elwin was killed in action7 in the early hours of 12th March 191526, aged nineteen.
Frank’s body was never recovered, but he is Remembered with Honour, at the Le Touret Memorial, France7. He was posthumously awarded the 1915 Star, The British War Medal and the Victory Medal4. Frank Harold Elwin was the second of “Our Boys” from Cockshutt to be killed in the Great War and the thirteenth from Shrewsbury School37.
In a moving act of remembrance, at morning service on Sunday 13th April 191935, Rev. John Rowley Donald dedicated the family’s mural tablet13 to the memory of his fallen young friend, Lieutenant Frank Harold Elwin29.
We Will Remember Him.
Second Lieutenant Frank Harold Elwin, 2nd Bn. Wiltshire Regiment.
Killed in action in France on 12th March 1915.
Remembered on Le Touret Memorial, France. Panel 33 and 34.
Tell them at home, there’s nothing here to hide.
We took our orders, asked no questions, died.11