May 16, 1916 – Soldier beats varicose veins only to die in action a week after getting to the Front


A young man who had an operation for varicose veins so he could join up has died in action after only being at the Front for a week.

Signaller Frank Sturgeon of Orchard Street, Harborough, has died while serving n the Persian Gulf, according to the May 16, 1916, edition of the Market Harborough Advertiser.

The story says: “The deceased, who was only 21 years of age, was in the Harborough Territorials when war broke out but was discharged on account of varicose veins.

“He underwent an operation and had them removed and then rejoined the 10th Leicesters about 12 months ago. He could only have been at the Front about a week.”

The story says that Signaller Sturgeon entered the Post Office as a telegraph boy, became a postman and afterwards went to work in Messrs R and W H Symington’s Factory. The story adds: “No details of his death have been received by his parents beyond the official intimation that their son has been killed in action.”

Another local lad is reported to have died in action – this time in France. Twenty-year-old Private A W Ludlow, who comes from Peterborough but worked in Market Harborough before the war at the Central Meat Co, had been serving with the 8th Northants Regiment.

And there is also news of another soldier who has died – but not at the Front. Private Ernest Cheney of East Langton, had only joined the Public School Battalion a fortnight ago but fell ill with appendicitis while on training in Edinburgh. An operation was performed but the 18-year-old passed away in hospital on Saturday morning.

The story says: “The deceased was a clever pupil at Market Harborough Grammar School for some years and on leaving was on the teaching staff at Little Bowden School. He was very popular with all who knew him and genuine regret is felt at his untimely death.”

The fickleness of the war is highlighted in another story about Private Rodney Arnold of Gladstone Street, Market Harborough, who was home on leave last week.

“Despite the fact that he has been at the Front ever since the war broke out he looks remarkably well. He went through the Mons retreat and escaped without a scratch.”

There is news of a different kind in the reports from Market Harborough magistrates’ Court. Mrs Charlotte Sansome, a married woman of no fixed abode, was jailed for a month for being drunk and disorderly in the town.

Supt Robinson told the court he had known Sansome for a number of years and had discovered ‘she had been convicted no less than ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY times, chiefly for drunkenness’.

“She was only liberated from prison the day before the charge was laid against her,” he adds: “It was certainly time a more severe sentence was passed on her for the protection of the public. When in drink she was a thorough nuisance. When sober she seemed a very intelligent person.”

  • Check out this week’s Harborough Mail for current news from the Market Harborough area.
  • My fellow researcher and De Montfort University colleague David Penman is conducting a similar real-time project with the Ashbourne Telegraph. Check out his Great War Reports.

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