Desmond Hague Inman (known as Frank)
Lieutenant, Royal Engineers, 80th Field Company
Born 25 December 1893 in London
Killed in Action 17 February 1917 during operations on the Ancre, near Miraumont
Buried in Regina Trench Cemetery, Grandcourt
Frank Desmond Hague Inman was the son of Francis Inman, a ‘Gentleman’ and Hannah Scholes Hague. Frank was born at Goldhurst Terrace, Swiss Cottage, London. His sister Doris, was born in 1895. Hannah is described as a widow in the 1911 Census. In May 1917, as Executor of Frank’s Will she asserted before George Rowntree, JP, that her husband’s whereabouts had not been known by her for over 9 years. The date of Francis’ death is not known but it was after February 1917 since a letter in his son’s officer’s record exists, written on YMCA notepaper, asking if the Desmond Inman killed on 17 February was his son.
Hannah’s father died when she was 3, in 1871. In 1872 her mother Jane remarried William Tingle Brown, a Sheffield watchmaker and jeweller. Jane bore William a daughter, Edith, in 1879, and a son, William in 1881, but died soon after, aged 41, when Hannah was 13. Hannah was sent to a boarding school in Harrogate. In 1894 her step-father remarried Clara Sayer in Scarborough and moved to Yew Court, Scalby. In 1901 Hannah’s half-sister Edith married Lt Colonel Charles Sillery and when he was killed on The Somme on 1 July 1916 she was living at The Grange, on Scalby High Street. Hannah had moved to The Grange by the time of Frank Desmond’s death in 1917. When she died in 1931 she lived at ‘Monks Path, Newby’, an address that has since vanished.
Frank spent 3 and a half years at Ovingdean Hall near Brighton: a young gentlemen’s school, followed by 2 years at Eastman’s School, Southsea, which prepared boys for a career in the armed services . He then completed 3 years’ in the Officers’ Training Corps at Bath College. In the 1911 Census Frank, who now called himself by his second name, Desmond, was a Mining Engineer at Cambourne Mining School, Cornwall, training in “mining (tin)”. He was a student there from 1910 – 1913 and did well academically, posthumously receiving the qualification ACSM which was only awarded to students of ‘outstanding merit’. He was a student member of IMM (the Insitutue of Mining and Metallurgy) from 1913 until his death. After leaving the Mining School Frank went to a South Wales pit, owned by a Mr Grey. From there he went to a mine in Cumberland. He enlisted in the Royal Engineers on 4 September 1914, and while with 72nd Field Company Sgt. Frank Inman sprained his ankle while on a Divisional Field Day on 27 April 1915, near White Hill, near Aldershot. He sustained this injury while scouting and slipped getting through a hedge, having to return to barracks in a cart. His records state, Frank ‘was not to blame‘. He spent 4 days in Woking Military Hospital.
Frank made his Will on 15 February 1915, stating his address as 51 Southside, Clapham Common, London. His mother was his sole Executor and beneficiary.
Frank applied for appointment to a Temporary Commission in the Regular Army for the period of the war while living at No. 1 Depot Coy, Royal Engineers Training Centre, Newark. and was gazetted a 2nd Lieutenant on 15 October 1915. He joined the School of Military Engineering at Chatham, Kent. It was difficult for the army to obtain proof of moral character for Frank because the Principal of the School of Mining at Cambourne had recently died, the owner of the mine in South Wales was now Major Grey at the front and the Cumberland mine had failed. His records show he was a Surveyor (Cadastral and Engineering), skilled in chain surveying, levelling and use of instruments.
Frank arrived in France on 9 March 1916 but was injured a few days later and went to No. 9 Stationary Hospital at Rouen. On 7 July he was posted to No, 80 Field Company, 18th Eastern Division, was on leave from 9 to 15 October and was then injured again and back in Rouen on 4 November. He rejoined his unit from hospital on 1 December 1916 , went to 5th Army School from 22 December to 19 January and was promoted to Lieutenant on 15 February 1917. Two days later he was dead.
In July – November 1916 the 18th Eastern Division were in the heat of the action at Bazentin Ridge, Delville Wood, Thiepval Ridge and the The Battle of the Ancre Heights in which the Division played a part in the capture of the Schwaben Redoubt and Regina Trench. In early 1917 the Division were still on the Ancre and on 17th February they tried to capture the high ground near Miraumont. There had been freezing conditions for 5 weeks but the thaw began on the night of 16th February, followed by a thick mist. The thaw meant that the troops were unable to advance at the rate that their commanders had calculated, and hence the rate of the moving artillery barrage that they were to follow was inaccurate. As they proceeded across the slippery, icy morass they were subjected to heavy German machine gun fire followed by a German counter-attack. The War Diary of 80th Field Company, Royal Engineers says, 9am 17th February. Ref Sheet 57 D.S.E. edition 3A. O.C. issued orders from forward Bde HQs (34th Division) R.2.3.c.8.5 to Lt Field O.C. No. 4 Sec to proceed with his section and attached infantry to consolidate strong point No. 5. This strong point was completed w(with a double line of concertina wire) about 4.30pm; and was taken over and garrisoned by the 11th Royal Fusiliers then. At 2.40pm G.O.C. 34th Inf. Bde. informed O.C. that the crest R.10.b and R.11. a and b had been taken, and that strong points nos 1 and 2 (R.11.a.3.1 and R.11.a.9.2) would have to be constructed that night. 3.30pm O.C. went ahead with Lt Inman, O.C. No. 1 Sec, leaving RIFLE DUMP about 3.30pm in order to lay tape from BOOM RAVINE out to the strong points, and to lay out these strong points. Lt. Richardson was left to bring forward the two R.E. sections and their two attached infantry platoons to GRANDCOURT TRENCH about R.11.a.8.2, where he was to await further instruction.
It was found impossible to lay out these strong points, as it was discovered that the enemy were in possession of these points or the ground in their immediate vicinity. Lt Inman and the O.C. managed to reach the position of point 2; but later, Lt Inman and Sapper Hunt were killed by M.G. fire while laying out this position. From the evidence of a sapper who escaped, the enemy post must have been only 50 or 60 yards from the position of the strong point. The O.C. was frustrated in his attempt to reach the position of strong point No. 1 by rifle fire (four or five rifles) from an enemy post on the W. MIRAMOUNT RD. at R.11.a.9.2; he had reached a point about 80 yards short of the position of strong point No. 1 which the enemy appeared to hold. No. 1 Section and attached infantry of both sections were sent back to dug-outs. No. 3 section put up a line of wire in front of Boom Ravine in the night about R.11.a.0.5
The Scarborough Mercury of February 1917 reported – Scalby Officer Killed. Second-Lieutenant Desmond H Inman, only son of Mrs Frances Inman, Sunny Bank Eastbourne and Yew Court, Scalby, was killed in action on February 17th. Enlisting as a Private in the Royal Engineers when the war broke out, he went on active service and received his commission in France in November 1915. His uncle, Lt. Colonel C. Sillery, fell in action last year.”
Desmond Inman is buried in Regina Trench Cemetary. His record on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website shows he was originally buried south of Miraumont, map 57 square R11, http://digitalarchive.mcmaster.ca/islandora/object/macrepo%3A4337/-/collection and his body was brought to Regina Trench Cemetery after the Armistice, in April 1919. Sapper Robert Hunt, who was killed alongside him, is buried a few rows away. Desmond is remembered on a brass plaque on the south wall of St Laurence’s Church, next to the memorial window for his uncles Charles and John Sillery, and also on the Roll of Honour of the men of Cambourne Mining School who gave their lives for King and Country in the Great War 1914 – 1918 and in Cambourne Church.
The Grange, Scalby High Street.