My grandfather’s generation served in the armed forces during the First World War.
Grandfather Dr Frederick Henry Douglas Flack served in the Royal Army Medical Corps. The family oral history suggests that he served in Salonica but I have not been able to confirm this from official records.
My Grandfather’s younger brother, Dr Bertram Flack served in the Royal Navy as a naval surgeon. I have not been able to locate a photograph of him. He served in several ships and survived despite several of the ships on which has served having been sunk by enemy action.
The saddest possible story for his family is that this talented young man who was the apple of his parents’ eye, survived the horrors of war only to died in the Spanish Flu epidemic in 1919 aged just 32 years old.
On my Grandmother’s (Alice Flack nee Cockshutt) side of the family, her brother Captain Edmund Meredith Cockshutt, served in the East Lancashire Regiment. He was wounded in Gallipoli and lost a leg. He was fitted with an artificial leg and continued to serve until the end of the war.
On my mother’s side of the family, her father, Warrant Officer Class 1 Ernest Hayward served in the Royal Engineers with distinction.
Comment: It is difficult for us in the 21st century to understand the military tactics of the early years of the First World War. It is perhaps shocking to remind ourselves that the military hierarchy of the British Army still believed in forming up the infantry shoulder to shoulder for the advance and in the use of cavalry using lances and swords for the charge.
The terrible casualties in the period 1914 to 1915 soon brought about changes in tactics, but to get some idea of the mindset, this early film of the training of the Manchester Regiment is useful. CLICK HERE