51674 Private Frank Lester VC
10th Battalion The Lancashire Fusiliers
who died on
Saturday, 12th October 1918.
Frank Lester was born on 18th February 1896 in Huyton, Liverpool to John and Ellen Lester. He spent his early childhood in Hoylake where he attended Hoylake National School. Frank was a keen member of Hoylake Boys Brigade and also played the organ for the local congregation at the Methodist 'Tin Chapel'.
On completing his education, Frank trained initially as a joiner until his family moved to Millers Hay in Irby. Here he worked alongside his father in their family run market garden business.
In 1916, Frank enlisted in the Lancashire Fusiliers and was posted to France in 1917. In early 1918 he was wounded but he returned to duty in September of that year. On 12th October, one month before the end of the war, Frank was killed at Neuvilly in France in the action for which he was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest award for bravery.
An extract from "The London Gazette," No. 31067, dated 13th Dec., 1918, records the following:
'For most conspicuous bravery and self-sacrifice during the clearing of the village of Neuvilly, on 12th October, 1918, when, with a party of about seven men under an officer, he was the first to enter a house from the back door, and shot two Germans as they attempted to get out by the front door. A minute later a fall of masonry blocked the door by which the party had entered. The only exit into the street was under fire at point-blank range. The street was also swept by fire of machine guns at close range. Observing that an enemy sniper was causing heavy casualties to a party in a house across the street, Pte. Lester exclaimed, "I'll settle him," and, dashing out into the street, shot the sniper at close quarters, falling mortally wounded at the same instant. This gallant man well knew it was certain death to go into the street, and the party opposite was faced with the alternative of crossing the fire-swept street or staying where it was and being shot one by one. To save their lives he sacrificed his own.'
He lies in Neuvilly Communal Cemetery and Extension, Nord, France. Neuvilly is a small village 6 kilometres north-north-west of Le Cateau on the road to Valenciennes (D955). The Communal Cemetery and extension are on the north side of the village outskirts and on the north side of the main road (D955).
The VC was sold in 2002 and
can now be seen in the display of Lord Ashcroft's collection of VCs
in the Imperial War Museum Lond