Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1917, Second Lieutenant Frank Bernard Wearne V.C., 3rd Battalion, the Essex Regiment, was killed in action near Loos-en-Gohelle in France.
One of five children of a wine merchant, he was educated at Bromsgrove School in Worcestershire, and Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he joined the Officers’ Training Corps.
In early September of 1914, Second Lieutenant Wearne enlisted in the public schools battalion of the Royal Engineers and served as a private. Seven months later he was commissioned into the Essex Regiment and went to France in December of 1915. He was wounded two days into the Somme Offensive and sent home, not being deemed medically fit until eleven months later, in April of 1917. His brother, Captain Keith Wearne, would fall during the Battle of Arras the following month.
On the day of his death, Second Lieutenant Wearne’s actions would win him the posthumous award of the Victoria Cross. He was in command of a small party during a raid on enemy trenches. As he and his men gained their objective and maintained their position they came under heavy enemy fire. Second Lieutenant Wearne unexpectedly jumped onto the parapet and ran along it, firing and throwing bombs. He inspired his men, refusing to leave them even when he was wounded. He then directed operations from the trench, being wounded again just before the order to withdraw was given, and was mortally hit while being carried away. His Victoria Cross citation refers to his conspicuous bravery, tenacity and his magnificent fighting spirit.
Second Lieutenant Wearne has no known grave, and is commemorated on the Loos Memorial at Pas de Calais in France, and on memorials in Bromsgrove School and St. Mary’s Church in Cudddington, Buckinghamshire. His Victoria Cross is on display in the Lord Ashcroft Gallery in the Imperial War Museum in London.
Frank, from Kensington, was 23 years old.