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Soldiers of the Great War; The Fredericton Soldier Biography History Initiative

All explanatory text, archival descriptions, narratives, database headings, and navigation assistance on the web site of the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick are provided in both English and French. When content is extracted from a document for insertion in a database or to be presented as a facsimile, it is provided in the language of the original.

Beatty, Frank S.

Private 85687
23rd Battery, Canadian Field Artillery
12th Reserve Battalion
2nd Battalion, Eastern Ontario Regiment

Background

Private Frank S. Beatty was born on August 13, 1896 in Fredericton, New Brunswick to Charles Malcolm Beatty and Harriet Booker. According to records, Malcolm and Harriet had five sons and one daughter. In addition to Frank, born the second youngest in the family, their daughter, Edith, was the oldest child followed by George, Henry, Ernest, and Archie. The 1911 Census reveals, that prior to the First World War George, Henry and Edith were no longer living at their home at 322 Smythe Street in Fredericton. Little is known specifically of Frank’s early life living in Fredericton, however, birth records show that his father, Charles Malcolm, was from Iron Bound Cove, Queen’s County, New Brunswick, and was working as a blacksmith in Fredericton while raising his family. Born into a working family, with roots in the Baptist Church, it is likely that Frank was taught the importance of education and work, and so it is not surprising that as a teenager attending school he would also volunteer for three years with the local 71st York Carleton Regiment before enlisting in the winter of 1914.

According to newspapers, all five brothers would enlist for service at some point during the war. Although Frank was only 17 years old at the time and one of the youngest in his family and his unit, he would be eager to do so, formally enlisting in Fredericton with the 23rd Field Battery on December 2, 1914. The Daily Gleaner reveals that his older brother, George, would enlist with the 12th Battalion Band, and would spend time in London with the Army Postal Service. Henry and Ernest would enlist as well, eventually joining Frank overseas, as would their younger brother Archie, who would enlist with the 8th Field Ambulance in Saint John. Their sister, Edith, would be at home in Fredericton throughout the war. Claiming to be 18 years old on his attestation papers, the young 17 year old Frank, still a boy in many ways, was described as having a blond complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. He would never marry and would never return home to his family.

Wartime Experience

Private Frank S. Beatty would train with the 23rd Field Battery, 6th Brigade a few months before leaving for England with his unit on February 23, 1915. After arriving in England at Shorncliffe Camp, Frank would transfer to the 12th Reserve Battalion, the same unit as his brother George, and would spend the next 12 months in training until going to France with the 2nd Battalion. Given his youthful age and also that he had been reunited with his older brother George, Frank experienced many of the questionable activities frowned upon by society at the time.

In the fall of 1915, he would admit himself to St. Martin’s Hospital at Shorncliffe to treat an infection affecting many soldiers who were away from home for the first time. These experiences were common, but given his young age, his medical record highlights the choices of a teenager, away from home with his brothers, and how he may have been trying to fit in. On two separate occasions, he would be reprimanded for small violations while on duty, including being out of his billets while at the front and for interfering with a military officer in England. All these examples paint a picture of a young teenager doing his best to deal with a difficult period of time.

Frank would join the 2nd Battalion, an infantry unit from Ontario, over the winter of 1915-1916 and would arrive at Le Havre, France with his unit on March 9, 1916. According to newspapers, his brothers, Henry and Ernest, would join Frank and the 2nd Battalion the summer of 1916 as preparations began for the Somme battles between July and November. By late August, Canadians were relieving their allies in areas of the Somme, and Frank’s unit in particular was being moved into the area of Pozieres Ridge, near Courcelette, France. The 1st Division of the Canadian Corps was in charge of holding a three thousand yard front of trenches that had been ruined by fighting over the previous two months. Between September 3rd and the 11th, Frank and his brothers would be involved in fighting with the 2nd Battalion for control of Pozieres Ridge. According to Nicholson (1962), many of the 2nd Battalion who were involved in bombing enemy trenches would be killed or wounded when their supply of grenades were gone. Frank would not survive the forward attack as records reveal on September 9, 1916, he was near the village of Courcelette when a German machine gun opened fire on his position killing him instantly. Frank had just celebrated his 19th birthday in the trenches. While there were witnesses to his death, his body would never be recovered.

Newspapers reporting his death on September 22, 1916 in Fredericton reveal a family of brothers dedicating their lives for service to country. While Frank would not survive the Somme battles, his brothers Ernest and Henry would make it through, as would George and Archie. Their mother, Harriet Booker, would pass away the winter of 1920, never having a chance to receive Frank’s medals nor being able to visit where her son would be honoured.

Lest We Forget

Private Frank S. Beatty is remembered with honour on the Vimy Memorial in Vimy, France. According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the highest point of Vimy Ridge was the chosen location for a memorial to all Canadians who served for Canada during the First World War. It bears the names of approximately 11,161 servicemen who died and who have no known grave.

*This biography was researched and written by Israa Ayouab, Grade 8 student (2015-2016) at George Street Middle School located in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada.

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