Charles Francis

Joint memorial with W. Campbell, J. W. Mackay & J. Traynor (q.v.):

10957 Private C. Francis K.O. Scottish Borderers, 29.5.1918, S 104

On this memorial are recorded the names of those members of His Majesty’s Forces who gave their lives for their country in the Great War 1914-1918 and are buried in this cemetery but whose graves are not marked by separate headstones.

The reference S 104 is the location of Charles Francis’s actual grave in the southern half of the main cemetery.

CWGC:  Private C Francis, King’s Own Scottish Borderers, service no. 10957, d. 29 May 1918; S104

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This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 26-29b.-Campbell-MacKay-Francis-Traynor-1024x768.jpg

Charles Francis was born in Easington, County Durham, on 25 October 1893, the eldest of three sons of Charles Francis (c.1856-1903) and Margaret Ann Smith (c.1874-1941).  His father, who is variously listed as a hawker, a cutler and a (razor) grinder, enlisted in the Durham Light Infantry militia in 1886 and regularly attended the annual training camps until the Boer War led to the militia being called up.  Charles served in South Africa from February to September 1902, returned home and died on 3 March 1903.  It appears that his marriage to Margaret had already ended in separation as there is an entry in the 1901 census for what appears to be the correct Charles Francis listed as a widower.  Our Charles Francis and his brother (James) William (1895-1960) were living with their maternal grandparents, Charles and Sarah Smith, in Berwick-upon-Tweed, but Margaret and her youngest son, Thomas (1898-1916), have not been traced.  Margaret and her future second husband Thomas Leake (1870-1921) had settled in Edinburgh by November 1902 when the first of their four children was born.  They married in Berwick-upon-Tweed on 2 February 1904.  

Charles Francis enlisted in the King’s Own Scottish Borderers in March 1911 aged 17 and giving his occupation as a bottle-blower.  He was listed in the Military Barracks at Berwick in the 1911 census.  He served with the Expeditionary Force in France from 10 August to 18 September 1914 and was wounded in the right leg.  After time in the U.K. he returned briefly to France from 14 April to 4 May 1915 before being again wounded and returning to the U.K. for a year. He went back to France on 14 April 1916 and was wounded in action on 4 July 1916 and was sent back to the U.K. suffering from shell shock.  In January 1917 he again returned to France and served there from 9 January to 23 March 1917. He then returned to England only to be diagnosed with tuberculosis in July 1917 and discharged as medically unfit for further service in October 1917.

While back in the U.K. in 1916 he married Margaret McIntyre in Edinburgh on 4 August 1916 and they were living at 112 Potterrow when he died on 29 May 1918, although he actually died at his mother’s home, 17 Ingliston Street.  His widow registered his death and the death certificate gave his cause of death as “Acute Phithises and Asthenia” (Asthenia is abnormal physical weakness or lack of energy).

Charles’s brother, Thomas, was registered as Thomas Francis when he was born in County Durham in 1898 but by 1911 had adopted his stepfather’s surname of Leake.  He served as a piper in the 6th Royal Scots and died in Egypt on 29 February 1916.  In his will, dated 21 November 1915, Thomas left £10 to his mother, £5 to Miss Sarah Martin, 108 Newhaven Road, Leith, and the remainder of his property to his brothers Charles and William Leake.  His mother and brothers were then living at 53 Bristo Street.  Sarah married James Kippen in 1917.