CWG: Private Frank Antell

Private Frank Antell

Frank Antell was born in 1880, one of seven children – six sons – to Thomas and Harriett Antell. Thomas was a groom, and Harriett a dressmaker and the family lived in the village of Martock in Somerset.

After Thomas died in 1893, Frank left school and became a carpenter. By the time of the 1901 census, he was living with his mother and youngest brother. Income seems to have been short – there were three other people boarding and lodging with the family.

In August 1904, Frank married Augusta Ring, and together they had five children – Lily, Ada, Leslie, Ronald and Freda.

Frank enlisted in the 13th (Works) Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment; this had been formed in the summer of 1916, so it can only be assumed that he was called up at the start. The battalion was based in Plymouth, so it is likely that Private Antell did not see fighting on the Western Front.

Private Frank Antell’s death is also a bit of a mystery. All that there is to confirm what happened is one stark sentence on his pension ledger:

Wounds self-inflicted during temporary insanity whilst on active service.

This one statement covers a multitude of sins, but does nothing to explain the mystery of what happened. There is no coverage of the incident or funeral in contemporary newspapers, so I have been unable to find any further explanation.

Frank Antell was a man with a young family. His regiment was based in England and was to be so for the duration of the war. One cannot imagine what thoughts were going through his head at the time he took his own life. That the 37 year old felt this was his only option is tragic.

Frank Antell lies at rest in the graveyard of All Saints Church in his home village of Martock in Somerset.

Frank’s widow Augusta went on to marry again in 1919, to a Joseph Maunder. She died in 1951 at the age of 73 years old.

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