Lieutenant Colonel Frank Page D.S.O.
Frank Page rose through the ranks in the Hertfordshire Regiment starting as a Captain in 1914 before eventually taking command as Lieutenant Colonel in 1916. He was a popular commander who was known for thinking of his men before himself. Frank died in 1917 when the Regiment lost all of its officers (killed, wounded or missing) in the Third Battle of Ypres.
Frank Page was born and lived in Highfield House, Queens Road and attended Hertford Grammar School, now Richard Hale School. Frank went into the family game food manufacture business, Gilbertson & Page, eventually becoming Managing Director of the firm. Frank served as a Corporal in the Hertfordshire Volunteers in the Boer War and was an active member of Hertford Town Council and the town’s youngest ever Mayor, aged just 34, in 1912.
Frank went to France in November 1914 as a Captain of the Hertfordshire Regiment and by March had been promoted to Major. Frank was a courageous soldier, awarded the Distinguished Service Order in 1915, just two days after being mentioned in despatches. The following year, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and took command of the Battalion, gaining a bar to his DSO for “conspicuous gallantry in action. He handled his Battalion in the attack with great courage and determination. Later he showed marked ability and judgment in consolidating his first objective, thereby repelling enemy attempts to counterattack.”
Frank was a popular and respected leader who cared deeply for those under his command; Lieutenant E.S.Cranley described him as “a most, painstaking and efficient officer, who spared no effort to make his men fit for whatever might be required of them; ever alive to the wants of his men, he would never think of food for himself until he was sure that the men in his company had been provided for”.
Frank was killed at St Julien during the third Battle of Ypres on 31st July 1917. He had been trying to bring reinforcements across the Steenbeck, a boggy surface of several yards that had once been a drainage ditch. Of 600 Officers and Men, 240 were killed that day and 230 injured. The official report states Frank was hit by shrapnel but his body was never recovered. He is remembered on the Menin Gate at Ypres, as well as war memorials at Hertford, All Saints Church and Richard Hale School. In his obituary in the Hertford Mercury, he was described by a fellow officer as “a valiant and successful leader; an example to all who follow; a truly Christian warrior.”