Date of Death:09/08/1915
Panel Ref:Panel 166
Frank Mellor was born in Royton in 1893, his parents being William & Mary Ellen. Frank and his siblings - Alfred, Ann, Esther & Mary - were brought up at 6 Middleton Road where father William had the newsagents that was until recent times still there near to the junction with Oldham/Rochdale Road.
Rather than follow the usual career route of young Royton men of working in one of the mills, Frank was a brass finisher as a young man.
It's more than likely Frank signed up as a Territorial before the war began but it's possible he may have been one of the very early recruits after the outbreak of war to have made up the numbers for the 10th Manchesters, Oldham's Territorial unit. The Oldham men sailed from Southampton in September 1914, arriving in Alexandria on the 25th of that month. Then followed over seven months of training in Egypt before, on May 2nd 1915, the battalion received notification that it was heading to the Dardanelles. The British had landed there on April 25th and had fallen far short of their initial aims.
Carried on different vessels the men of C & D companies landed at Gallipoli on May 9th, followed by A & B on the 13th. For the remainder of the month the battalion got used to life in the front line and by the end of May they'd suffered over 50 casualties - 14 dead and over 40 wounded.The men had no doubt suffered but their real baptism of fire was yet to come.
On June 4th the British were to make another attempt (the Third Battle of Krithia) to attain the objectives of Day 1 back on April 25th. Two regular battalions - the 2nd Royal Fusiliers and 2nd Hampshires had suffered terrible losses since landing in April and needed the extra manpower of the 10th, and also two territorial battalions of the East Lancashires to boost their numbers. As part of this scratch force,this was to be the Oldham Territorials first frontal assault and it was to be a predictably costly affair.
The morning of June 4th saw a massive naval bombardment of the Turkish positions in front of Frank and the rest of the 10th Manchesters.At 11:20 the shelling stopped and the British, en-masse, poked their bayonets above the parapets as if they were about to launch their assault. This was a ruse to get the Turks out of their deep dugouts and back into their open
trenches and ten minutes later the naval bombardment began again. 30 further minutes of the Turkish lines being pounded and then it really was time for the Oldhamers to go over the top.
The original charge swept into the Turkish trenches but during ferocious fighting over the next couple of days the lines were forced back almost to the point from where the men had started. The losses of the men from Oldham were estimated at 94 dead and 320 wounded. Frank Mellor was wounded in the leg and arm - but unlike many others was not in a serious enough state to be shipped off to Malta or England, such as Roytoner Charles Kershaw who had his leg amputated at the hip. Three other Royton men were killed in the initial assault - John Fitton , Frank Smith & James Shaw. Another, Edwin Hyde,with the Lancashire Fusiliers as part of the larger assault also lost his life that day.
Royton could perhaps be thankful that it's sons had not made a habit in the pre war years of signing up in large numbers for the Oldham Territorials, the name of Krithia being engraved on the consciousness of it's larger neighbour for many years to come.
In July the shattered battalion received reinforcements from the second line unit raised in Oldham after the outbreak of war, the 2nd/10th Manchesters and then on August 9th the Oldhamers were called into action again. This was no full assault on the Turkish lines but rather a diversionary tactic, or 'demonstration' as the army termed it, to distract attention and resources from the fighting further up the coast at Suvla Bay - where the British & Commonwealth forces were making very heavy going of it after their landings on August 6th.
9 men were killed and over 50 wounded that day. Frank Mellor was one of those killed. Sometime after his death,another Royton man Private E.Dyer wrote back home to the vicar of St.Paul's :
"..he was a soldier who did not shirk his duty or he would never have gone in the place he did, which was nothing but a veritable death trap. He was one of a party of bomb throwers, and whilst carrying the bombs along he was shot through the stomach and died immediately.I believe he was buried close to the spot where he fell. The day after his death I got orders to take up a position with the machine gun section in my charge and we avenged his death by doing great execution amongst the enemy. I have felt his death most keenly,as he was one who I loved to have a quiet talk with about home..."
The other men killed during the 'demonstration' were:
BOWDEN FRANK 19 Serjeant 1526 from Oldham
GARDNER THOMAS Serjeant 2315 from Oldham
GREENWOOD JOHN Corporal 1361 from Oldham
HUFTON WILLIAM 24 Serjeant 39 from Oldham
JONES GEORGE Corporal 2127 from Chadderton
OGDEN JAMES 20 Private 1451 born Heyside,Royton.Lived Oldham
STOTT FRED 20 Private 1867 from Oldham
WYKE WILLIAM 30 Serjeant 201 from Oldham
The first inkling Frank's parents had of his death was in late August with a letter home from another Royton soldier to his own parents saying that he'd seen Mellor fall. Frank was a member of the Royton Oddfellows club and they flew their flag at half mast upon hearing the news.