RFA West Lancs Bdes
680991 SGT F. Schultz. MM. R.F.A.
Francis Schultz was born in the third quarter of 1896, the oldest son of John Joseph Schultz (b. 1868 in Liverpool) and Sarah Walburga Wareing (b. 1865 in Preston). John Joseph’s father was Joseph Schultz who was born in 1830 in Prussia and came to Liverpool in 1850 where he worked as a merchant seaman. He married Margaret Garrigan (who herself was Irish) and in the 1870s the Schultzes moved to Bamber Bridge where John Joseph married Sarah Walburga and where their children were born (they lived on Brownedge Lane). John Joseph was a tackler (overlooker) in a cotton mill and by 1911 the family had moved to King Street, Lostock Hall. They had 10 children of whom 9 survived. In fact their first child was named Francis but he died shortly after birth. Then came Mary (b. 1893 – my grandmother), then Francis, then Joseph (b. 1898), Stephen (b. 1900), John Joseph (b. 1901), Cecilia (b. 1903), Philomena (b. 1905), Austin (b. 1908), and finally Monica (b. 1910). The family household in 1911 also included John Joseph’s mother Margaret and Sarah Walburga’s sister Mary – 13 people in all, living in a five room terraced house in King Street. Mary, Francis and Joseph were all weavers, the rest of the children were still at school. A few years later the family moved to 9 Carington Terrace, Croston Road.
Along with many other men from Lostock Hall and Bamber Bridge, Frances joined up on 19 May 1915 to the West Lancashire Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, being assigned to "A" Battery of 286 Brigade. During the course of his training, Francis was promoted to Sergeant.
Francis (standing, second left) with Sergeants of "A" Battery, January 1917.
Francis (centre) with Bert Nickson and Tom Craven in training, Deepcut Barracks, 1916.
Francis was awarded the Military Medal in February 1918 for bravery in action during the Battle of Passchendaele the previous November.
He was wounded in action near Outtersteene in French Flanders and died of his wounds on 13 April 1918. Aged 21.
An extract from the war diary for his Brigade (WO95/2971) in April 1918 reads as follows (9 April 1918 saw the beginning of the second phase of the German Spring Offensive):
09.04.18 At 4,15am an intense bombardment of hostile gas shell commenced on the whole of the Corps front. Our batteries, which were standing to, to support a raid by the 121 Infantry Brigade, were immediately ordered to open up counter-preparation fire. The gas shell bombardment lasted until about 9am when the enemy placed an intense barrage on the front line system. The enemy broke through the British line to the right of the 40th Divisional front, and turning to his right outflanked our Batteries. The guns of B and C Batteries and two howitzers of D/286 were captured. A/286 (Francis’ battery) were able to withdraw their six guns and D/286 4 howitzers, after engaging the enemy up to within 300 yards of their position. The Brigade withdrew and took up positions on the N side of the river Lys near Le Point Mortier where batteries engaged the enemy with harassing fire. When a battalion of enemy infantry were reported to be in Croix du Bac a further withdrawal was made to positions near Le Verrier. 7 OR killed; 3 officers and 26 OR wounded; 3 officers and 22 OR missing. 11.04.18 The enemy pushed our infantry back to a line about 1000 yards in front of the Batteries and as the right flank was threatened, the Brigade withdrew to a position on the Meterin Becave just south of Outtersteene. A/286 (Francis’ battery again) covered the retirement. The enemy were held during the night.
12.04.18 In the early morning, the infantry withdrew to a prepared line. The batteries, on being shelled, took up new positions about 1000 yards in the rear. Again the left flank was being threatened and the Brigade withdrew to positions N of Merris. Here they engaged the enemy with intense fire. A further withdrawal was necessary later in the day and the Batteries took up good positions in Pradelles. Harassing fire was brought to bear on the roads and main approaches. 5 OR wounded, 1 OR missing.
13.04.18 Batteries were employed in harassing fire by day and night.
14.04.18 The Brigade supported the 2nd Battalion Australians in rushing a farmhouse near Merris. This operation was successful, 40 of the enemy being killed. The batteries were shelled and they withdrew to positions 1000 yards west. Harassing fire was carried out by day and night. 4 OR killed, 13 OR wounded.
The map shows the German offensive in April 1918, during which Francis was wounded. He was evacuated but died at Longuenesse. He was 21 years old.
By the end of the month, the Division had retaken Merris, which can be seen in the centre of the map to the east of Hazebrouck.
Service No: 680991
Date of Death: 13/04/1918
Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery, "A" Bty. 286th Bde.
Awards: M M
Grave Reference: V. A. 31.
Cemetery: LONGUENESSE (ST. OMER) SOUVENIR CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of John Joseph and Sara Walburga Schultz, of 9 Carrington Terrace, Lostock Hall, Preston. Born at Brownedge, Walton-le-Dale, Preston.