28-year-old Frank Eden died of wounds at 35th Casualty Clearing Station, Doullens, France on 11th July 1916, whilst serving as a Private with the 2nd Battalion, South Wales Borderers. He was the seventh son out of the nine surviving children (eight sons, one daughter) of John and Maria Eden of New Street, Castle Bromwich.
Seven of the eight brothers – Henry John (1873-1955), Albert Edward (1874-1957), Percy (1881-1966), Fred (1884-1950), Arthur (1886-1916), Frank (1888-1916) and John (born 1890) – served in the First World War. Two of the brothers were killed. Frank was the second of the brothers to die on war service. His older brother, Arthur, had been killed about six weeks earlier. The remaining brother, Ernest (born 1879), had been a regular soldier and, according to a newspaper article on the remarkable family, tried desperately to re-enlist on the outbreak of war, but was unable to owing to a slight lameness in the leg.
Frank Eden was born in 1888 in the North Warwickshire village of Cliff, where his father, John (1851-1933), was a gardener when Frank was baptised at Kingsbury on 18th March 1888. John, was born in Kineton, near Stratford-on-Avon, and appears to have married Maria Whitmore (1853-1930) in Rowington in 1871. The family moved around several parishes in Warwickskhire – Rowington, Hatton, Kingswood, Lapworth, Kineton, Cliff, Sutton Coldfield, and Ward End- before settling in Castle Bromwich sometime between 1901 and 1911.
In 1911, 22-year-old Frank was living with his parents in New Street, Castle Bromwich and working as a farm labourer. He married Maria Norton later in 1911 and the couple moved to Palfrey, Walsall. An article in the Birmingham Daily Mail, 6th March 1915, features the Eden family who had received a letter from the King congratulating them on their loyalty and patriotism by having six sons serving with the Army. The article notes that a seventh son (Ernest) is a time-expired former regular soldier, whilst the remaining eighth son (Frank) is contemplating joining up.
It seems that Frank enlisted in Birmingham in July 1915, and first saw service overseas with the South Wales Borderers on 20th September 1915 in Gallipoli before being moved to Egypt and camping at Suez. The Battalion then transferred to the Western Front in March 1916. Frank Eden died of wounds in France after being wounded by enemy action on 1st July 1916 during the Battle of Beaumont Hamel where the South Wales Borderers were in front of Y Ravine. He is buried at Doullens Communal Cemetery Extension, and is also commemorated on Castle Bromwich village war memorial, and in St Mary & St Margaret’s Church, Castle Bromwich, as well as on Walsall’s Roll of Honour.
Frank and his wife had one son, John Joseph Eden, who was born in Walsall on 8th September 1915. Maria subsequently married Edwin Bates in 1923, and is known to have had two children with him.
If you have any more information on the Eden family of Castle Bromwich, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel: 0121 704 6977
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