An Essential Part of The Play

1624 Colour Sergeant Albert Franklyn, D.C.M.
1st. Bn., York and Lancaster Regiment Late 65th Foot.

by Alex Tutton

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Franklyn's medals, which I am very fortunate to have in my care, consist of:

1. The Distinguished Conduct Medal dated 29th February 1884 engraved, number L/Sergt. name 1/Y & Lanc. R. (date)

2. Afghanistan Medal 1878-80. Clasps, Peiwar Kotal, Charasia, Kabul. engraved, number Sergt. name 65th Foot.

3. Egypt Medal 1882-89. Undated Clasp El-Teb Tamaai. engraved, number L/Sergt. name 1/York & Lanc. R.

4. Egypt Khedive's Star dated 1884. impressed, number L/Sergt. name 1/Y & L.

He also gained a Long Service and Good Conduct Medal in October 1889, without a gratuity. This, unfortunately, is missing from the group.

Albert Franklyn came from Chippenham in Wiltshire, and as a youth of 18 while in London, on 24 December 1868 he attested at Westminster for 12 years with the colours. I am inclined to think a young man must be very desperated and down on his luck to join the Army on Christmas Eve - even in 1868.

His medical records show he was immediately admitted to hospital suffering from scabies, 'from want of cleanliness'. Franklyn was 5'6" in height and a labourer by trade. He was sent to Dublin to join the 65th Foot, and given the number 1624. He later re-engaged at Lucknow, India, to complete 23 years service.

His decision, however, would seem to have been a very good one for during his service he gained promotion to Colour Sergeant, an Army Signalling Certificate and a Hythe Sergeant Instructor Certificate. He married Miss Mary Simpson and had two children, Mary and John. He also grew 3" to 5'9".

While in India in 1881 he was tried by Regimental Court Martial and reduced to the rank of Corporal. The one blip on his record. Franklyn spent 13 years in India, time which included 13 months in Afghanistan during the 1878-80 Campaign, being one of the few men from the 65th Foot to serve on lines of communication signals duties in this Campaign.

In February 1884 while in Aden, considered probably the most monotonous Station in the British Empire, the 65th Ft., now renamed the 1st. Bn. The York and Lancaster Regiment, were ordered home. But not for the last time trouble in the Middle East was to intervene. As is well known, a strong Force was to be sent to the Sudan to quell a revolt led by the Mahdi. After several false starts the 65th was included on the strength of this Force. On the 12th February a telegram was received from Horse Guards: '300 men with complement of officers to be held in readiness ro proceed - for active service in the Sudan'. However, next day a second telegram was received: '65th Not Required'. On the 27th February while on the way home to England a signal was sent: 'Land 65th immediately - great coats and blankets only - no kit'.

On the 29th February at El-Teb and again on the 13th March at Tamaai, where the square was broken, they were involved in much hand to hand fighting against hordes of fanatical dervishes. The casualties suffered by the 65th were 38 men killed and 24 wounded. Lt.-Col. E. Broughton in the Regimental Memoirs writes 'Amongst the dead we found some of our best men - men of good character, smart soldiers, good cricketers'.

On 26 November 1884 Sergeant Franklyn attended at Windsor Castle and received the Distinguished Conduct Medal from Queen Victoria. The Citation reads as follows: -

Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel Dalgety 1st Bn. York and Lancaster Regiment, reports that at the battle of El-Teb on the 29th February last: -

'When the left of our Regiment and the right of the Royal Highlanders were temporarily checked in front of the brick house and the boiler, I called for volunteers to enter and capture the brick house with me. Sergeant Franklyn was the first to step forward and some 4 or 5 other men then followed. We made a rush for the door of the house on the far side from us, and act which was attended with great danger, not only from the fire of the enemy inside, but also from the cross-fire of the Royal Highlanders who had wheeled their left up and were firing at the house. I succeeded in reaching the door and rushed in, but was instantly seixed by the collar and dragged back by Sergeant Franklyn, whose hand was pierced by a spear in so doing, for a Soudani having concealed himself behind the door, with his spear raised, had struck at my throat as I entered. Had Sergeant Franklyn not seen him and dragged me back, receiving the spear in his hand, it would certainly have pierced my throat, and he therefore undoubtedly saved my life. He shot the man who wounded him, and we then together entered the building, followed by the other men, and after some hard fighting succeeded in placing hors de combat as many of the enemy as remained alive (I should say about 20), of whom Sergeant Franklyn states he killed 11; the exact number I cannot vouch for but I saw him laying about him in splendid style and most pluckily. The whole company when asked at Tokar whom they would recommend unanimously declared Sergeant Franklyn's conduct to be most deserving of recognition of any man's in the company, and in this I should myself concur.'

In her Journal, Queen Victoria noted briefly that she 'gave a Distinguished Conduct Medal to Lance Sergeant Franklyn, for most gallant conduct at El-Teb, for which I consider he ought to have received the Victoria Cross'.

This point was made to the War Office by the Queen's Private Secretary. A reply was very quickly sent back the next day.

27th November 1884

My Dear Ponsonby,

With reference to your note and its concluding piece in which you say "H.M. asked why Sergt Franklyn did not get the V.C." The answer is that he was never recommended for that distinction and that is an essential part of the play.

Yours sincerely,

E.A. Whitmore

[Lieut.-General Sir Edmund Whitmore,
Military Secretary to the Commander-in-Chief]

Later on this would not appear to be so an essential part of the play, for in December 1899 Captain Harry Norton Schofield, Royal Field Artillery, was awarded the D.S.O. for the Guns at Colenso action. But nearly two years after was changed for a V.C. Gazetted 30th August 1901. Private George Ravenshill of the 2nd. Bn. Royal Scots Fusiliers also for Colenso was awarded the D.C.M. which was however cancelled on being gazetted for the V.C. even though this was for a different action - the battle of Fredrickstad.

Sergeant Franklyn must have been rightly very proud of his D.C.M. but did he, I wonder, ever know how close he had come to gaining the Victoria Cross?

Ten other York & Lancs. men received the D.C.M. for this campaign. Unfortunately Cpl. David Dossett and Pte. P. Foy are not included in the group photograph. I include just some very sketchy details of the others.

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Lance-Sergt. Doyle        Sergeant Franklyn
Lance-Sergt. Haycock   Col.-Sergt. Wake   Col.-Sergt. Howell    Corporal Baxter
Lance-Sergt. James     Col-Sergt. Hayward      Sergeant Webb

C/Sgt. Charles Wells was, while engaged at El-Teb, suddenly confronted by four Sudanese two of whom he despatched, but, after his bayonet had been bent, was speared by the enemy. He was rescued and sent away on a stretcher.

In 1894 now Quarter-Master Sergt. Wake was one of only two serving D.C.M. holders in the Battalion.

Sergt. Frank Webb. Decorated for gallantry aiding C/Sergt. Wake when he was wounded at El-Teb.

C/Sgt. Hayward. Wounded at El-Teb, served with both the 1st and 3rd Battalions. He had completed 23 years service on 3 February 1894 and on the morning of the 9th was found dead in his bed at his house in Sheffield.

L/Sergt. Henry Haycock. D.C.M. for assisting in capturing a battery of four guns, and was among the first to rush the pits sheltering the enemy at El-Teb.

L/Sergt. Henry James. Died aged 63 years in October 1913. He was discharged with a pension in 1889 after 21 years service. He then served with the Corps of Commissionaires for 24 years, earning the silver badge for meritorious service. His D.C.M. was for bravery at El-Teb.

Corporal Harry Baxter. D.C.M. for going to the assistance of Capt. Littledale who was struggling on the ground, with the Sudanese at El-Teb. Captain Littledale coming hand to hand with a desperate Arab when both rolled on to the ground. Captain Littledale's revolver would not fire, the Arab by repeated stabbing and biting had nearly done for him when he was bayoneted by Cpl. Baxter. Baxter was afterwards promoted to Colour Sergeant in the 3rd Battalion. Baxter died in May 1913 from a shocking accident received while working in the Park Iron Works.

L/Sergt. John Doyle died in 1906 aged 54 years. He had also served in the Afghanistan Campaign. D.C.M. for courageous conduct when his superior officer, Captain Littledale, was severely wounded at El-Teb.

Colour Sergt. Howell. D.C.M. for coolness and gallantry at Tamaai. In 1893 was appointed as Garrison Sergt. Major Belfast. Retired in 1903. Awarded Meritorious Service Medal with annuity of 5.

Albert Franklyn took his discharge from the Army on 3 January 1892, after spending two years on the Permanent Staff of the 1st Volunteer Bn. York & Lancs., his final address being 50 Arthur Street, Sheffield. The last known of him was that he celebrated the 10th Anniversary of Tamaai by dining with other veterans at the Pheasant Inn, Sheffied, on 13 March 1894. Obviously with more friends and comrades than he had on that Christmas Eve in London many years before.

Sources: -

Royal Archives, Windsor Castle, by Gracious permission of Her Majesty The Queen.
Public Record Office, Kew. W097-2833.
Memoirs of the 65th Regiment 1st. Bn. The York & Lancaster Regt. by E.C. Broughton (1914).
The History of the Victoria Cross by P.A. Wilkins (1904).

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