Lt. Col. Franklin

Lieutenant Colonel W.H. Franklin, D.S.O.
Newfoundland Regiment and 1/6th Royal Warwick Regiment

One gets heartily sick of this kind of fighting & the conditions are very trying. The line is much livelier the past 4 weeks & it looks as if the Germans would try one more big effort on this front soon, hope they will, as it would make our job easier. We are not far from the Somme so the past 2 weeks have been more trying.

 The present policy seems to be nightly raids from both sides. So far we have succeeded much better than the enemy at this game. I wish I had the Nflds were as they would be splendid at that kind of work.

 (Maj. W.H. Franklin to Governor Walter E. Davidson, 4 Feb 1916) 

Born in Lancashire, England in 1871, William Hodgson Franklin had immigrated to St. John’s, Newfoundland in 1891 and helped to organize a regiment on the outbreak of the Great War. He was commissioned as a captain but on arrival in England in October 1914, he transferred to the 1st Battalion, Suffolk Regiment. He deployed to France as a major with the 6th Battalion, Royal Warwick Regiment in March 1915. After a year, he assumed command of the battalion.

Although separated from the Newfoundland Regiment, Franklin carried on regular correspondence with Governor Walter E. Davidson. He reported on the welfare on the Newfoundlanders while they trained in England and expressed pride with their performance at Gallipoli. Until the regiment was reassigned to the Western Front in April 1916, Franklin called himself “the only representative in France.”

Franklin NFLDOn 1 July 1916, the first day of the Somme Offensive, Franklin was severely wounded at Beaumont-Hamel, where the Newfoundland Regiment was nearly wiped out. He was invalided to England and remained unfit for active service for the rest of the war. Davidson wrote to a recovering Franklin, “Our losses in the Newfoundland Regiment involve at least half the 1st Battalion; probably more … But the spirit in which the casualty lists were received was heroic.”

After the war Franklin worked as a trade commissioner in British East Africa. He died in Kenya on 21 November 1941.

Portrait of Col. W.H. Franklin,

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