The Men

The Men

Sunday, 19 January 2014

* Second Lieutenant Norman Frank Currall

N.F. Currall High School photo
Form V, Nov 1912*
Second Lieutenant Norman Frank Currall was of the 1st Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment. He was killed in action on 18 October 1916 and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. You can see him in the image below, with his men, at Hawthorn Ridge - he is the man center-frame to the right, just removing a soft hat.

Norman Frank was an Englishman, who spent several years of his childhood, in Dublin. He was born on 17th July, 1897, in Leamington Priors, St Mary's, Warwickshire, England; the eldest child and only son of Percy Frank and Kate Currall. He was a pupil at The High School Dublin from 1909 to 1913, while his father worked as manager of the National Telephone Company. They resided at 2 Windsor Road, Rathmines, Dublin.

He landed in France on 16th June, 1916, but four months and two days later, he, and many of his fellow officers, faced a difficult night of fighting during a heavy bombardment of machine-gun and rifle fire; in appalling, rainy, freezing-cold. pitch-black, conditions, as 'A' Company advanced at 3:40 on the morning of the 18th October 1916.

According to the regiment's war dairy from that day, ' 'A' Company, in the darkness, went too much to its right and got somewhat mixed-up with the 1st Rifle Brigade. Machine gun fire was opened by the enemy immediately the first wave advanced.... heavy machine guns and rifle fire was directed on our front and flanks. And owing to the absolute darkness, it must have been impossible for any officer or N.C.O. to organise the digging of any advance posts(?) at the limit of the advance... the first two waves were practically non-existent... No officers or Senior N.C.O.'s of 'A' or 'C' Company returned and no messages were received back. I think that no rifles of the men who went forward could have been in working order ten minutes after they left our lines. The ground was terribly torn up by shell fire, and as slippery as ice. The men kept on slipping and falling into the holes in the dark. The few who returned were one mass of mud from head to foot, and completely exhausted. I consider that a considerable portion of the missing (8 officers and ? ranks) are in all probability prisoners...' Second Lieutenant Norman Frank Currall's name was amongst the list of missing officers. He was subsequently listed as 'deceased'. He was just 19 years old.

Source: WO 95 The National Archives (UK)
Transcribed by Michelle Burrowes.

Here is a detailed description of this image from the Imperial War Museum: 'Staff Sergeant (pointing to his right) of the 16th Battalion, Middlesex Regiment (29th Division) with a group of troops of the 1st Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment, parading at the "White City" opposite Hawthorn Ridge for the attack on Beaumont Hamel. Behind them is a party from the 2nd Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders of the 4th Division. Note white cloth carriers "C" letter badges on arms of two soldiers from that group.

The officer in the middle left (with his back to camera, removing his cap) is Second Lieutenant Norman Frank Currall of the 1st Battalion, East Lancashire Regiment. He was killed in action on 18 October 1916 and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

Label on original caption reads: Soldiers of the 16th (Public Schools) Battalion, The Middlesex Regiment of the 29th Division parading at 'White City' opposite Hawthorn Ridge for the attack on Beaumont Hamel. Behind them is a group from the 2nd Battalion, The Seaforth Highlanders of 4th

Source of data and photo: Imperial War Museum

The Weekly Irish Times. Ireland’s Roll of Honour. November 17, 1917.
'Second Lieutenant N. F. Currall, East Lancashire Regiment, who was reported missing on October 18th last year, and is now officially presumed to have been killed in action on that date, was the only son of Mr Percy F Currall, formerly District Manager Post Office Telephones, Dublin, and at present Ditrict Manager, Post Office Telephones, Brighton. Second Lieutenant Currall was a student at the Royal College of Science, and a member of the Trinity College, O.T.C. He received his commission in the East Lancashires in 1915, and went to the front in the summer of last year. His Colonel, in a letter to Lieutenant Currall’s parents, said,

“Your son was an extremely capable officer, and one who had made himself most popular amongst his comrades.” The chaplain writes;-“The company of which your son was in went forward with magnificent dash…he was gallant soldier, who has won the respect of all his brother officers and the regard of the men in his platoon.” Pier and Face 16 C Thiepval Memorial.

Source: Tom Burnell
* Currall school photo Courtesy the Board of Governors of the Schools founded by Erasmus Smith Esq

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