Francis Victor Blackwell was born in 1891 in Shipley, the son of railway clerk, John, who was born in Great Longston, Derbyshire, and his wife, Eccleshill born Esther Hannah.In 1891 baby Francis was taken home to 14 Windsor Street, Shipley. Ten years later they were at 47 Alexandra Road and by 1911 61 Kirkgate.By the time we get the first of many Shipley Times & Express reports of Francis’s war, the family have moved to 6 Avondale Grove.The first report we have was published on 4 February 1916, a very big year in Francis’s life:Sec-Lieut F V Blackwell, of the 4th Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, and only son of Mr John Blackwell of 6 Avondale Grove, Shipley, has recently been promoted from the ranks.A pathetic coincidence in connection with his recent visit home was the death of his mother, who was interred the day prior to his arrival.On the 9 June we read:A military wedding in which considerable interest was manifested was solemnised at Shipley Parish Church on Friday.The bridegroom was Sec-Lieut Francis Victor Blackwell of the 4th Duke of Wellington’s Regt, only son of Mr John Blackwell and the late Mrs Blackwell of Lo-Kih, Avondale Grove, Shipley.And the bride was Miss Elsie Marguerite Illingworth, only daughter of Mr H Illingworth and the late Mrs Illingworth or Roselea, Heaton Grove, Bradford.Direct from FranceThe bridegroom came direct from France for the wedding which was witnessed by a number of wounded soldiers and nurses from the Field House Auxiliary Hospital, Bradford, where the bride has been serving as a nurse for some time.Miss Illingworth, who was given away by her father, was attired in a white muslin gown adorned with old lace and roses. She wore a crown of orange blossom.Miss Cuttle, of Bradford, who attended as bridesmaid, wore a white muslin gown adornted with jepseph flowers. The best man was Mr J Firth, of Ilkley and formerly of Nab Wood.The ceremony was attended by Miss Bottomley, aunt of the bride, and Miss L Armistead, cousin of the bridegroom. The officiating clergyman was the Rev W Bowker, curate of Shipley Parish Church.
The honeymoon is being spent at Llandudno and tomorrow, Lieut Blackwell will return to his military duties.Amongst the numerous presents was a silver flower vase and a case of cutlery, the gifts of the officers of the Duke of Wellington’s Regt. Telegrams of congratulation were received from Lieut Blackwell’s brother officers and the nurses at the Field House Auxiliary Hospital, Bradford.On 1 September the paper reported that Francis’s gallantry had been recognised:Military CrossSecond Lieutenant Francis Victor Blackwell, only son of Mr John Blackwell and the late Mrs Blackwell, of Avondale Grove, Shipley has been awarded the Military Cross “for daring reconnaissance across No Man’s Land in daylight to within ten yards of the German front line.”Second-Lieutenant Blackwell was formerly in the Halifax Commercial Bank at Bradford and subsequently at Beckett’s Bank, Doncaster.As with many brave soldiers, the
gallantry came at a price, as was noted on 17 November:Sec-Lieut Francis Blackwell, son of Mr John Blackwell of Shipley, who was not long ago awarded the military cross, is now staying at a convalescent home at Osborne, Isle of Wight, and is expected home shortly.WoundedAfter being wounded he was an inmate of the military hospital at Le Treport, France. Previous to joining the army, Sec-Lieut Blackwell was in a bank at Doncaster.John’s work was again recognised in a report on 15 October 1920:Major Blackwell, O.B.E., M.C., 4th West Riding Regt, son of Mr J W Blackwell, 6 Avondale Grove, Shipley, well-known for his activities on the Shipley War Savings and the local Pensions Committees, was invested by the King on Tuesday at Buckingham Palace.John’s war-time injuries played a part in his death at the age of 38. His obituary, published on 17 March 1928, gives us some details of his life after the war.
The death occurred on Monday off Major Francis Victor Blackwell, only son of the late Mr John Blackwell, Avondale Grove, Shipley.Major Blackwell was operated on for appendicitis two weeks ago and was recovering until he had a relapse on Friday of last week owing to the effect of war wounds.He was 38 years of age and leaves a widow, the daughter of Mr Benjamin Illingworth, 34 Heaton Grove, Heaton.USAHe served with the Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regt and was invalided home in 1916. Afterwards he joined the war mission to the USA and commanded the British Officers camp at Fort Dodge, Iowa.On his return to London he was attached to the British War Mission at Crewe House and afterwards to the Canadian Trade Mission.Major Blackwell was one of the best known publicity organisers in the Victory Loan appeal and Press adviser to the Russian Famine Relief Fund in 1921.Wembley StadiumLater he was appointed by the Department of Overseas Trad to direct the publicity of the Pageant of Empire at Wembley Exhibition. He was also concerned in a similar capacity with the successful Tattoo at the Stadium and the Brighter London campaign.His social activities earned him a large circle of friends and he had a vigorous and delightful personality.The interment took place at Golders Green Crematorium on Thursday.