FROST, James

No.38896, Private, James FROST

26th Heavy Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery

A rare example of a man apparently being named on a war memorial who had not died !

James Frost was born in 1888 (Mildenhall Q4-1888 4A:698), son of John and Caroline FROST (née BONNETT).

1891 census...Aged 2 he was in West Row with his grandfather George BONNETT [55] a farmer; his grandmother Mary [54], uncles Charles [22], James [20], William [18] and Abraham [16] and aunt Georgianna [12]. His parents, John FROST [30] farm labourer and his mother Caroline [28] born West Row Fen and sister Alica M [5 months] were at The Green, West Row. All except his mother are recorded as born in Mildenhall.

1901 census...Aged 12 he was at Cook's Drove, West Row with his grandparents. His parents, brothers William [4] and Arthur Frank [1]; sisters Alice Mary and Georgiana [6] were at The Green, West Row.

1911 census...Aged 22, farm worker, he was still with his grandparents at Cook's Drove, West Row. His parents, brothers Willam and Arthur; sisters Ethel [9] and E.Roza [3] were in West Row.

James joined the Royal Artillery in 1913. Attested 17th February 1913, No.38896 Royal Garrison Artillery. He gave his age as 24 years 3 months, next of kin father John Frost, West Row Green. He was a big man for the time, 6 feet 2 inches (188 cm)tall, 171 lbs (77.8 kg), chest 39" to 42" (99.1 to 106.7 cm), with hazel eyes, dark brown hair, Church of England.
Promoted to Bombardier 13th September 1915, to Corporal 15th January 1916 and to Sergeant on 31st March 1917. He was in France on 16th August 1914 thereby could be an Old Contemptible, but for some reason he does not have the clasp to his 1914 Star. This could be that he did not claim it, (it was one award that actually had to be claimed and verified). Perhaps being heavy artillery he was out of range of the German guns, but that seems unlikely given the fluid nature of the war at that early stage. He did however get awarded a silver war badge, but that seems totally inappropriate for a one armed man. He was wounded in 1918 and had his left arm amputated. Whilst in hospital near Montigny, during the German Spring Offensive he was captured and taken to the Prisoner of War camp at Darmstadt. The International Red Cross records have little to find, (their indexing system and website navigation not of the best) but they confirm his capture at Montigny on 21st May 1918. He seems to have given them his date of birth as 29th August 1889.
Repatriated, he arrived in London on 24th October 1918 and was discharged from the Army on 28th February 1919 with a pension of 32 shillings and 6 pence (£1.62) per week, to be reviewed in 13 weeks, and thereafter 19 shilling and 6 pence (£0.98) per week for life.

He returned home and at one time was park keeper in the Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds.
As he was discharged in 1919 and presumably was back home before then, it begs the question as to how he came to be named on the war memorial which was not built until 1920, unless of course there was another J.FROST about whom we know nothing.

Brother Arthur served about a year in the Machine Gun Corps. Brother William was killed in France in 1917 see here

Where and when James died, or where he is buried is not yet known.

The Bury Free Press of 13th July 1918 reported

Mr.and Mr. J.Frost of West Row Green, Mildenhall, have received official information that their son, Sergt. James Frost, 26th H.Battery, R.G.A. was wounded on May 27th. Since then no further news has been forthcoming, and naturally his parents are anxious to obtain information as to the nature of his wound and his whereabouts. Should this meet the eye of anyone who could furnish any information, Mr. and Mrs. Frost would be very grateful .

Photogragh from Bury Free Press article above

William Frost.................James Frost...................Arthur Frost