Frank Praill was born and raised in Chelmsford. He worked as printer before enlisting into the army in December 1915. He arrived in France in July 1916. He was killed in action in July 1917 near Loos. His home was in Wolseley Road.
Private, 1/5th Battalion Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire Regiment)
Aged 32, Frank enlisted at Chelmsford on 9th December 1915. He was placed on the army reserve the following day and later mobilised on 18th March 1916. He was posted two days later to the 3/5th Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters (Notts. and Derby Regiment) with an initial service number of 5385. On 16th July 1916 he transferred to the regiment’s 1/5th Battalion, crossing to France from Folkestone to Boulogne the following day - he joined his battalion in the field on 30th July 1916.
Frank went missing and was subsequently presumed to have been was killed in action on 1st July 1917 while serving as Private 202191 in D company of the 1/5th Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters (Notts. and Derby Regiment). He had served for one year and 205 days.
On 3rd August 1917 the Essex Weekly News carried the following report.
“Mrs. E. Praill, 16. Wolseley-rd, Chelmsford, has been notified that her son, Pte. Frank Praill, Sherwood Foresters, has been missing since July 1. He joined the Army some 18 months ago.”
A week later a similar reported appeared in the Essex County Chronicle:
“Pt. Frank Praill, Sherwood Foresters, son of Mrs. E. Praill, 16 Wolseley Road, Chelmsford, is missing since July 1.”
A further week later the Essex Weekly News carried an appeal for news of him:
“Mr. and Mrs. Praill, of 16, Wolseley-rd, Chelmsford, would most gladly welcome any news from comrades or any other sources concerning their son, Pte. Frank Praill (No. 202191); D Co., Sherwood Foresters, who was reported missing on July 1, 1917.”
On 19th April 1918 the Essex Weekly News reported:
“Pte. Frank Praill, Sherwood Foresters, son of Mr. and Mrs. Praill, 16. Wolseley-rd., Chelmsford, was reported missing on July 1 last in France. It is now intimated that he must be regarded as having been killed in action. Deceased, who was 33 years of age, was for a number of years employed at the ‘Essex Weekly News’ office.”
His body was subsequently identified and was buried at Loos British Cemetery (grave: IV. A. 18). He is commemorated on the Civic Centre Memorial, Chelmsford, and the Moulsham Parish Memorial, St John’s Church, Moulsham. He was entitled to the British War Medal and Victory Medal.
The 1918 register of electors listed Frank’s parents still living at 16 Wolseley Road. His father died in 1919.
On 5th December 1921 the Infantry Records at Lichfield in Staffordshire wrote to Frank’s mother at 16 Wolseley Road enclosing a spoon, the only item of Frank’s property in their possession. She acknowledged receipt three days later. On 18th January 1922 Frank’s mother acknowledged receipt of his medals. She died three years later.
Frank was born in Chelmsford 26th January 1884, the son of Charles Frederick Praill and Elizabeth Praill (nee Jones). He was baptised at St John’s Church, Moulsham on 5th April 1884 at which time his father was a brass fitter of 107 Moulsham Street, Chelmsford. Frank’s father had been born in Sandon in 1848; his mother in Chelmsford in 1849. The couple had married in 1875.
His three siblings (all Chelmsford-born) were Alice Harriet Praill (born in 1875), Laura Elizabeth Praill (born in 1877), and Charles Harcourt Praill (born on 11th September 1881 in Chelmsford, christened at St John’s Church, Moulsham on 31st December 1882, and died in 1971).
Frank was educated at Moulsham Infants School in Moulsham Street, Chelmsford from 5th September 1887 to 23rd January 1891. Upon admission he lived at 106 Moulsham Street. The 1891 census found seven year-old Frank, three siblings and his parents still at 106 Moulsham Street. At the time his father was a brass fitter. The 1901 census recorded 17 year-old Frank, then a copper hand printer, living with his parents, brother Charles, and a boarder at 16 Wolseley Road, Chelmsford. Frank’s father was jobbing gardener, and his brother was an electrical engineer’s clerk. A decade later Frank was the only child of Charles and Elizabeth still living with them at 16 Wolseley Road. His father was still working as a gardener, while Frank was a journeyman printer.