CWG: Private Francis Packer

Private Francis Packer

Francis William George Packer was born in Bristol on 28th July 1884. The eldest of three children, he was the son of a grocer, Francis Packer Sr, and his wife, Eliza.

When Francis left school, he followed his father into the grocery business and married Kate Taverner on 1st September 1907. They had one child, a daughter called Dora, in 1909 and, by the time of the census two years later, Francis had moved his young family to Bath.

By the time he was called up, in December 1915, Francis had moved the family again, this time to the sleepy village of Blagdon, in the Somerset Mendips. He formally enlisted in the Machine Gun Corps of the Somerset Light Infantry in July 1916, and was sent to the front in January the following year.

Private Packer’s battalion fought at Arras, and it was here that he was injured. On 1st May 1917, he received a gunshot wound to his right thigh, which fractured his femur. He was initially treated on site, before being shipped back to England, where he was admitted to King George’s Hospital in London.

Sadly, is seems there were complications with his treatment, and Private Packer died from his wounds four months later, on 19th September 1917. He was 33 years old.

Francis William George Packer was brought back to his family in Blagdon, and lies at rest in the churchyard of St Andrew’s there.

The local paper reported on Francis’ funeral, but what struck me is that there seems a glaring omission in the list of those who attended. It was obvious that he wanted a strictly private funeral, but:

The mourners were Mr FE Packer (father), Mr S Emery (brother-in-law), Mr SG Packer (uncle), Mr W Taverner (uncle), Mrs ES Packer (mother), Mrs E Emery (wife’s sister), Amy Parker and Nellie Parker [his sisters-in-law], A Packer (aunt), Dolly Parker, Dolly Flower, Mr J Jones (uncle), Mr CJ Redwood, Mr J Nelson and Mr AH Bleacove.

Western Daily Press: Wednesday 26th September 1917

There is nothing in the report to suggest that Francis’ widow attended the funeral.

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