Thomas Harold Piper Frost
Service Number: 1872 / 240304
Date of Birth: 1885
Regiment: A Coy, 1/5th Suffolk Regiment
Date of Death: 12 Aug 1915
Age at death: 30
Cemetery / Memorial: Helles Memorial
Country: Gallipoli, Turkey
Grave / Reference: Panel 46 and 47
Relatives: Husband of Mrs Alice Laura frost (nee Hynard)
Address: 33 Angel Street, Hadleigh
Thomas was born in Kersey in 1885. By 1911 he is living at 33 Angel Street, Hadleigh with his wife, Alice and their children; George William (4), Alice Lilian (2) and 3 month old Thomas Harold. They were also living with Alice's 70 year old father, William Hynard, who was by then an Army Pensioner. Thomas was employed as a farm labourer. We are not exactly sure when he enlisted into the army, but it seems like many other young men from Hadleigh, William joined the local territorial battalion, the 5th Battalion the Suffolk Regiment. If we assume that William had joined the battalion before war broke out then we know that he would have been mobilised on the night of the 4th/5th August 1914.
Once mobilised the 1st/5th Suffolks spent a number of months carrying out home service tasks. At that time territorial units were liable for home service only and were not required to deploy overseas. However, when it became apparent that more troops would be needed for overseas service, the men of the battalion were asked to volunteer. After giving this some serious thought, 72% of the men volunteered and the battalion was redesigned 1st/5th Suffolk Regiment. Those who opted to stay on home service duties only, became the 2nd/5th Suffolks.
The 1st/5th Suffolks completed their training and preparation and were re-equipped for service in the eastern theatre. They embarked along with the rest of 163 Brigade and the 54 Eastern Division at the end of July from Liverpool bound for Gallipoli. They arrived and went ashore at Suvla Bay on 10th August 1915 and were quickly moved forward and by midday on the 12th were manning the forward trenches on the Anafarta Plain. At 4pm they were ordered forward as part of a 163 Brigade operation to clear the Plain of snipers in preparation for a much larger Divisional operation that was planned for the following day. The battalion was on the left of the brigade line and 'A' Company made up of Hadleigh men were in the first wave. There was at least 75 Hadleigh men involved and this was a true baptism of fire. They were told it would be a straight forward advance to mop up the odd sniper, but in reality they faced a determined and ruthless enemy. The enemies intimate knowledge of the ground was key. They sniped the Suffolks who could not see the firing points and even if they could, they had no artillery support to combat the snipers. In addition, the Turks made best use of their own artillery which ultimately halted the brigades advance. The Suffolks fell back to a shallow river bed / ditch where they formed the new front line. A few days later they were relieved and returned to the reserve trenches where they discovered that the attack had cost them dearly; 11 Officers and 178 Other Ranks were killed, wounded or missing. Although official records suggest that many of the Suffolks went missing on or after the 21st Aug, we now believe that they were actually lost during the advance on the 12th.
For the families of the men who were initially reported as missing, there was a long and painful wait for news. After repeated requests for information the wife of Thomas Frost received a letter from an officer stating “I very much regret to inform you that your husband was posted as missing after the action which we took part in on August 12th. I do not know what to assume regards the missing on this occasion.
On that day, at least 16 men from Hadleigh were killed. Due to the nature of the fighting, their bodies were never recovered from the battlefield until the early 1920s. By then the remains were unrecognisable and could not be identified. The remains were most likely buried in Azmak Commonwealth War Grave Commission cemetery in an unmarked grave. This cemetery is in the area were the Suffolks held the front line. Their names are commemorated on the impressive Helles Memorial which stands on the southern tip of the Gallipoli peninsular.
‘A’ Company had one of the worst parts to cross and I fear suffered heavily, and as we have never been able to go near the locality we passed that night, it has been impossible to get any reliable information. Names of our men held as prisoners in Turkey are still coming through and so one cannot give up all hope.” Some never gave up hope, but eventually, they had to accept that their loved ones were dead. The wife of Thomas Frost had to wait over two years before they received official confirmation, after which a short notice was published in the Suffolk Free Press in November 1917.