CAPTAIN FRANK STEPHEN FORD
24TH MARCH 1918 AGE 47
BURIED: WIMEREUX COMMUNAL CEMETERY, FRANCE
It has been very difficult to identify Frank Ford and I'm not sure that I have. This is a pity because he has a very beautiful inscription. It was chosen for him by 'Mrs Ford' and I'm definitely not sure who she was. The War Graves Commission says that his parents were William and Rebecca Ford 'of Birmingham'. I thought I may have found him in the 1871 census as a six-year-old boy born in Paddington and living with his widowed mother, Rebecca, who was 44. The records don't mention a wife so it could have been this Rebecca Ford who was the Mrs Ford who chose his inscription. However, in 1919 but she would have been over 90. This Frank Ford grew up to be a London warehouseman, which is another reason why he doesn't fit very well.
Another problem in identifying Frank Ford has been his age. If he was 47 when he died of pneumonia in 1918 then he was not six in 1871. Nor can he have been 26 in 1881 when a Frank Ford is listed as being a soldier in Canaley Barracks, Chorlton, Manchester. In 1891 there is a Frank Ford aged 26 who is a gunner in the Royal Marine Artillery in Eastney Barracks, Portsea. Then in 1901 there is a Sergeant Frank Ford, aged 31, serving in the R.M.L.I. in Gibralter. This could be our man but according to the census he was married, which the War Graves Commission doesn't mention. This Frank Ford would fit with our Ford holding the rank of Quartermaster Captain in 1918 as this is a rank traditionally held by someone commissioned from the ranks. Had he left the marines by 1914 or is he someone completely different altogether?
His beautiful inscription comes from Shakespeare's Hamlet. Hamlet and his friend Horatio are discussing Hamlet's dead father and Horatio says: 'He was a goodly king', to which Hamlet replies:
He was a man, take him for all in all,
I shall not look upon his like again.