Francis Arthur Dunn
Acting Lance Corporal Royal Army Service Corps, 21st Division Mechanical Transport Company
Military Service Number M2/018412 or 048412
Born April 1890 in Everton, Nottinghamshire, a village between Bawtry and Gainsborough
Killed in Action 30 August 1918
Buried in Albert Communal Cemetery Extension
Frank Dunn was the youngest son of George Dunn and Annie Saunders. His older brother by two years was Alfred George Richard. Between 1891 and 1901 the family moved to Scalby where George became a gardener. They lived at 2 Yew Court Cottages, next to what is now the Yew Tree Café but had opened in 1849 as Wallis and Blakeley’s Grocer’s Shop.
Frank appears in the 1911 Census working as a shepherd for a Mr RH Jackson, a farmer in Suffield, Hackness. At some point thereafter he gained employment as a ‘motor driver’ for the Scarborough and Whitby Brewery Company.
His Medal Roll Index gives 5 September 1915 as the date when Private Frank Dunn embarked for France.
He is buried in the Albert Communal Cemetery Extension. Following his death his father received £139, which he had been left in Frank’s Will. In his Soldier’s Will he left the whole of his property to his mother.
In his excellent website, ‘The Long, Long Trail’, Chris Bailey explains
The officers and men of the ASC – sometimes referred to in a joking, disparaging way as Ally Sloper’s Cavalry – were the unsung heroes of the British Army in the Great War. Soldiers can not fight without food, equipment and ammunition. They can not move without horses or vehicles. It was the ASC’s job to provide them. In the Great War, the vast majority of the supply, maintaining a vast army on many fronts, was supplied from Britain. Using horsed and motor vehicles, railways and waterways, the ASC performed prodigious feats of logistics and were one of the great strengths of organisation by which the war was won.
At peak, the ASC numbered an incredible 10,547 officers and 315,334 men.
The ASC was organised into units known as Companies, each fulfilling a specific role. In most cases the Company also had a sub-title name describing its role.
Some of the Companies were under orders of the Divisions of the army; the rest were under direct orders of the higher formations of the Corps, Army or General Headquarters of the army in each theatre of war. They were known as part of the Lines of Communication. Many men of the ASC were not, however, with ASC Companies, for many were attached to other types of unit in the army – for example, as vehicle drivers.
All Mechanical Transport Companies were part of the Lines of Communication and were not under orders of a Division, although some (unusually known as Divisional Supply Columns and Divisional Ammunition Parks) were in effect attached to a given Division and worked closely with it. Those in the Lines of Communication operated in wide variety of roles, such as being attached to the heavy artillery as Ammunition Columns or Parks, being Omnibus Companies, Motor Ambulance Convoys, or Bridging and Pontoon units.
Soldiers like Frank Dunn who served in the Mechanical Transport usually had the letter M as a prefix to their number. Frank’s prefix was MT which meant he was a Driver.
The ASC Mechanical Transport Depot Companies filled a variety of administrative, recruitment, induction, training and re-supply roles. The Base Depots were based in the United Kingdom or at the port of entry to a theatre of war. Advanced Depots were located further up the lines of communication.
Each Division of the army had a certain amount of motorised transport allocated to it, although not directly under its own command. The Divisional Supply Column Companies were responsible for the supply of goods, equipment and ammunition from the Divisional railhead to the Divisional Refilling Point and, if conditions allowed, to the dumps and stores of the forward units. Used, of course, where loads were heavy. A Company initially comprised 5 officers and 337 other ranks of the ASC, looking after 45 3-ton lorries, 16 30-cwt lorries, 7 motor cycles, 2 cars and 4 assorted trucks for the workshop and stores of the Supply Column itself. All Companies served in France unless otherwise mentioned.
The MT Companies called Ammunition Parks operated dumps, or stores, of ammunition. This included the larger calibres of artillery shells which required special handling equipment, smaller shells, mortar rounds, grenades and small arms ammunition too. All saw service in France unless otherwise mentioned.
The 21st Division was part of the Third Army under General Sir Julian Byng which took part in the Second Battle of the Somme, 21 August – 3 September 1918. Frank was killed during the opening of the second phase: the Second Battle of Bapaume, 31 August – 3 September, fought across the same ground that had been fought over in 1916. This was part of a series of counter-offensives to halt the German Spring Offensive.
Frank Dunn’s death was reported in the Scarborough Mercury, 13 September 1918. It comments that he had been over two years in France.
There is a tragic postscript to Frank’s story. His mother died on 10 May 1920 and his father committed suicide on 22 August 1922. At the time of his death he was the gardener to Mrs Sagar Brown of Ashlea, Scalby. He was also a bell ringer at St Laurence’s Church. The Coroner’s verdict was Suicide while temporarily insane. A long and detailed description of the Inquest appears in the Scarborough Mercury of 26 August 1921. George Dunn was discovered by his mother in law, who kept house for him since his wife died. He had shot himself in the head with a revolver. His son Alfred said he knew his father had the gun but had not seen it for years. He told the inquest that George had been depressed of late, and suffered from insomnia. Twelve days before his death George had visited his son in York since his GP had advised him to go on holiday. Whilst there he had seen three doctors who considered his condition due to nervous breakdown.