The Friends of St. Peter's Berkhamsted

Friends of St Peter's, Great Berkhamsted

Duncombe, Frank (1881 – 1921)


Not all WW1 graves are commemorated with a Commonwealth War Grave Commission (CWGC) headstone but most are mentioned in their records. Frank Duncombe, until now, has nothing to indicate that he played any part in the war either in the cemetery or on local war memorials. We only know of his involvement in WW1 from a very small snippet in the Berkhamsted and Tring Gazette, it reads “On Friday last the funeral took place of Mr Frank Duncombe. He was only 32 years of age and served in the Bedfordshire regiment in the war. The Berkhamsted Comrades provided a bearer party”.

Frank was a Berkhamsted man, he was born here in 1888 to Walter and Lizzie Duncombe. He came from a poor labouring family. His father was listed on the 1871 census in The Wilderness, at the age of 8 his occupation was given as collecting horse dung (scavenger). His parents married in 1885 and had their first child, Edward, in 1887. In 1890 the young family, who by now were living in Lions Yard, were torn apart when Lizzie died at the age of 29. From the following census returns we know that Frank went to live with his paternal grandparents, by now in 10 Provident Place, and we can assume that Edward moved to London to live with his Aunt and their father moved to London to earn money to support his boys.

By 1911 Frank was working as a Barman and lodging at 4 River Terrace. His brother, Edward, had died in the Workhouse in 1907. Following the outbreak of war, he enlisted into the Bedfordshire Regiment on 11 Oct 1915 as Private 22740. On 20 January 1916 he was discharged due to sickness and was issued with a Silver War Badge (no. 229896). After the war he lived at 15 Provident Place where he died in  Feb 1921. His mother and brother are also buried in Rectory Lane Cemetery.

The CWGC are responsible for the commemoration of personnel who died between 4 Aug 1914 and 31 Aug 1921 whilst serving in a Commonwealth military force or specified auxiliary organisation, as such Frank should be remembered. His father’s younger brother, John Duncombe, is remembered on the town war memorial but like his nephew he was discharged as sick before seeing active service.

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