Frank Rhodes Armitage 30 July 1917

Captain Dr Frank Rhodes Armitage was the eldest of three Armitage boys who all came up to Laxton House and who all perished in the conflict. He was born in Edinburgh in 1883 where his father was a doctor. He came to Laxton in 1896 and stayed for six years. He was Head of House and a School Prefect and a member of the XV and well as the XI. A talented cricketer, he headed the bowling averages for 1901 and scored 58 against Queens’ College Cambridge. He also took 5 wickets for 16 runs against the Masters XI that year, surely his most satisfying performance of the season. The next season, he went on the Oundle Rovers Tour and scored a creditable 95 against Burghley Park. He was also a leading academic scholar of his year group and in his last year at the School, he won the Langerman Prize, presumably for Classics, and a Maths prize.

Apparently, he was also an excellent golfer. He held the course record at Tettenhall in Staffordshire when he went round with a score of 66. He was also a member of the Wolverhampton Cricket club. He won a scholarship in Classics to Pembroke College Cambridge but decided to switch to medicine. In 1906 he was working as a medical assistant in the London Hospital in Whitechapel. Later he succeeded to his father’s practice.

When war broke out, he joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and was awarded a DSO early in 1917. He was killed on 30th July 1917, near Ypres, while attached to the Royal Field Artillery. He was in a dug-out with Captain Hickman when they were hit by a shell.

According to the Express and Star, he was “one of the bravest and best”. He had been in the line for nearly two years and “had many miraculous escapes from death”. On one occasion he was inches away from a shell which crashed into a dug-out, but escaped without injury. He also saved the life of Lieutenant Finnis. He married Frances Snape in 1913 and had a daughter Prudence two years later.

Frank Rhodes Armitage was 34 years old at the time of his death and is buried in Brandhoek New Military Cemetery just west of Ypres. His brother Douglas was killed at 22 in October 1915 and another brother James died in 1919 aged 30, his health fatally undermined by his military service in Egypt.

C Pendrill
Yarrow Fellow