Rifleman Frank Aldington, 2nd Battalion, Rifle Brigade was killed in action on 17th November 1917. He was the youngest of the eight children (six sons, to daughters) of parents, John (a groom and gardener) and Anne (née Copage) who had married at Tanworth-in-Arden in 1862. The family moved to Knowle sometime between 1868 and 1871.
Frank was born in Knowle in 1884, 22 years after the birth of his eldest sibling, Charles (1862-1922), who was born in Tanworth-in-Arden.
Charles – known as Charlie – began working on the railways in 1876, at the age of 13, as a “lad clerk” at Handsworth and then at Knowle before becoming Chief Clerk in the London Superintendent’s Office in 1894. He later became Traffic Superintendent of the Central London (Electric) Railway before returning to the Great Western Railway (GWR) in 1903 and becoming 2nd Assistant to the Superintendent. He became Superintendent of the Line in 1910, after being assistant Superintendent from 1907. He was made CBE in the 1918 New Years Honours List.
In 1919, Charles Aldington became General Manager of the GWR but the strain of controlling wartime railway traffic had affected his health, and he resigned in June 1921. Retiring to Marazion, Cornwall, he died at his home “Gew” on 15th October 1922, aged 59. He was buried at Perranuthnoe church, with a special train being run from London Paddington to convey mourners. His widow, Rosina Jane (known as Rose), subsequently gave £200 for a memorial at the church (carved oak choir stalls and a chancel screen) in his memory.
We haven’t been able to find any evidence that any of the siblings served in the Armed Forces, apart from Frank, who was working as an apprentice grocer by 1901, when he was 16 and living at the family home in Station Road, Knowle. An older brother, Edward John Aldington (1868-1925) also became a fruiterer and greengrocer, running a business in Warwick Road, Solihull. Frank went on to run a grocer’s in Poplar Road, Dorridge, and his home address in probate records was given as West Hill, Dorridge.
Frank’s service record appears not to have survived, so we don’t know when he enlisted, although it doesn’t seem that he saw overseas service prior to 1916.
Private Frank Aldington has no known grave and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial. He is also commemorated locally on war memorials at Hockley Heath and Dorridge, as well as in the Soldiers’ Chapel at Knowle parish church.
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