HEILGERS, Frank Julius Frederick Alexander

No.43335, Lieut-Colonel, Frank Julius Frederick Alexander HEILGERS
Aged 51

Royal Artillery
Killed in train crash on 16th January 1944

Frank Julius Frederick Alexander Heilgers was born in Kensington on 26th June 1892 (Kensington Q3-1892 1A:107) son of Alexander Frederick and Sophie Louise HEILGERS (née DONNER).
The family had interests in shipping and companies in India and seem not to appear in the census so presumably spent much of their time abroad. At the time of his death Frank and his mother lived at Wyken Hall, Bardwell, which they purchased in 1920 and where his mother continued to live until her death in 1951.

He was educated at Magdalen College, Oxford (M.A. Oxon)
He served as a commissioned officer in the 1st/11th London Regiment and then at HQ 5th Division during the Great War of 1914-1919 and was mentioned in despatches

He was Member of Parliament for Bury St.Edmunds from 1931 to 1944 and Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister of Agriculture from 1935 to 1936 and to the Minister of Pension form 1937 to 1940. Justice of the Peace.

He was made a JP for the county of Suffolk in 1923, and was an Alderman of West Suffolk County Council.He farmed over 1,000 acres in the county and was a breeder of British Friesian cattle and Large Black pigs.

He was recalled to the Army on the outbreak of World War II in 1939 and served on the staff at home as Deputy Assistant Quartermaster General to 11 Corps in 1940 and at the War Office in 1942.

He died in a train crash at Ilford. About 7:20 pm on 16 January 1944, in thick fog, the 2:38 pm express from Great Yarmouth was stopped at Ilford en route to London Liverpool Street. Due to poor visibility, the driver had not seen several 'caution' signals and subsequently stopped 110 yards past a 'danger' signal. The driver walked to the signal box and after a short wait was given a "line clear" by the signalman.
As the driver returned to his train the signalman received a telephone call from a colleague in the adjacent box reporting that the following train, the 2:40 pm express from Norwich had passed his signals at danger. The Ilford station inspector, who had arrived at the signal box to find out why the Yarmouth express had stopped, was sent to place detonators at the rear of the train, but before he was able to take any action the Norwich train ran into the rear of the Yarmouth train at about 25 mph. Nine were killed and 38 injured.

memorial shield in the House of Commons

Frank Heilgers is buried in Bardwell (St Peter and St Paul's) Churchyard
and commemorated in the House of Commons

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details