Born: 1883, Shipley
Died: 12 October 1914, Versailles
Buried: Les Gonards Cemetery, Versailles
Address: 69 Field Street, Shipley
Parents: Thomas and Ellen
Siblings: Mary, William, Albert, Martha
Occupation: Apprentice plumber for Harry Firth
Organisations/clubs:Otley Road Council School
Rank: Rifleman
Medals/awards: Mentioned in despatches
Rolls of Honour: St Paul’s, Shipley
Regiment: King’s Royal Rifles
Frank Varley
Frank was born in Shipley in 1883, the second child of Thomas and Ellen Varley of 69 Field Street. In 1901 he was working as an apprentice plumber for Harry Firth but in 1906 he joined the King’s Royal Rifle Corps and spent three years serving in Jabbapoor in India. He was among the first wave of men sent to France at the outbreak of World War 1 and was in action very early on. In the fighting at Aisne in September and October 1914 he was mentioned in despatches for his courage but also ‘dangerously wounded’ and was taken to a military hospital in Versailles, where he died on 12 October. A memorial service was held at Hall Lane Wesleyan Reform Church, Shipley, reported in the Shipley Times & Express on 6 November. ‘As the congregation were assembling the organist, Mr A W Ashworth, played Beethoven’s Funeral March. The service was conducted by Mr T R Green of Bradford who in the course of an address said that England could not have kept out of the conflict if she means to retain her honour and name for righteousness.’
After commenting more on the justification for the war, he turned to Frank Varley. ‘Mr Green said they felt proud that one of their local soldiers had had the distinction of being mentioned in despatches. At present they had not learned what act of bravery he had performed but they would rest assured that he had obeyed Nelson’s famous command had done his duty. Noble death ‘They sympathised with Varley’s relatives and also with the thousands who had suffered similar bereavements. ‘He remembered the assistance which the deceased rendered at that place of worship when the jubilee celebrations were held last November. The church would always cherish his memory, knowing that he died a noble death. ‘The hymns sung were “Soldiers of Christ Arise,” “Jesus, lover of my soul” and “Son of my soul,” whilst the choir rendered the anthem “The Hymn of the Homeland” (Sullivan), Mrs H Newthrop sand “O Rest in the Lord” and the choirmaster, Mr
W Senior, rendered “Thou’rt passing hence, my brother.” (Sullivan) At the close the organist played the Dead March.’ Just over a year later, on 3 December 1915, the newspaper reported: ‘Mr T Varley of 69 Field St, Shipley has received the following letter from the assistant Military Secretary at the War Office, Whitehall, London: ‘Sir, I have it in command from his Majesty the King to inform you, as next of kin of the late Rifleman Frank Varley, of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps, that this private was mentioned in a despatch from Field Marshall Sir John French, dated 8th October, 1914, and published in the London Gazette, dated 9th November, 1914, for gallant and distinguished service in the field. ‘His Majesty desires to condole with you on the loss you have sustained and to express his high appreciation of the Services of the late Rifleman Frank Varley.’
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