Walter Frank Bazeley

Name Walter Frank Bazeley
Corps Royal Marine Light Infantry
Rank Private
Service No. PO/18407
Date/Place of entry
Date of death 15 May 1915
Memorial/Grave Greatworth War Memorial, Deal Cemetery, Kent

Walter Frank Bazeley (also known as Frank Walter) was born in July 1899, the fourth of the five sons and four daughters of Henry Bazeley and his wife Rose Hannah nee White. Henry was a great nephew of Rhoda Lines nee Bazeley. Walter Frank grew up in the small village of Greatworth, a few miles south east of Chipping Warden where his father was a small farmer / milkman.

He joined the Royal Marine Light Infantry (RMLI) under the name Frank Walter Bazeley. He lied about his age, saying he had been born on 9 July 1897. His service record does not survive so we do not know precisely when he joined up, but he was posthumously awarded the British War Medal, which shows he had been posted abroad. This medal was awarded whether or not the service person had actually entered a theatre of war so it is impossible to know if he was involved in any action. Given that all recruits spent their first months in training before being posted, he must have joined not long after his fifteenth birthday.

The Royal Marine Light Infantry’s role was to provide the marine infantry detachments that were part of the complement of all Royal Navy vessels. It had not normally been divided into battalions but this changed in 1914 when it became part of the Royal Naval Division (later 63rd RN Division).  Four RMLI battalions were created including one at Deal. It is possible Walter Frank was in this Deal battalion.

In February 1915 the RMLI Plymouth and Chatham Battalions left for the Dardanelles. Deal and Portsmouth Battalions followed them, arriving on 11 March. Deal Battalion was placed under orders of 1st RN Brigade. On 24 March the Royal Marine Brigade, now including Deal Battalion, set sail for Alexandria but was diverted to Port Said, arriving on 26-7 March.

The Deal Battalion’s machine gun detachments were sent on to the Suez Canal defences at Kantara, while the bulk of the battalion returned to the Dardanelles. On 29 April the Deal Battalion landed at Anzac and proceeded to the front line where it was engaged for the following thirteen days in heavy fighting which ended in a Turkish defeat on 2nd May.

Frank died from disease. Was this something he contracted in Egypt, at Gallipoli, or indeed in the UK? Living conditions at Kantara were hard. At Gallipoli they were appalling; filthy, cramped, unsanitary, and disease-ridden. Poor diet, open latrines and insufficient water supplies meant that dysentery, tetanus and infections from septic wounds were commonplace.  Many thousands of men had to be evacuated and the evacuation process itself was astoundingly inefficient and slow.

Frank was still two months short of his sixteenth birthday when he died in Deal Naval Hospital on 15 May 1915. He is buried in Deal cemetery along with another one hundred and twenty six men from the RMLI of World War One. He and his eldest brother Albert are commemorated on the Greatworth War Memorial.

He was a second cousin of Owen George Lines, Henry William Lines and Frederick Albert Lines, and of Ernest Cowley. His brothers Albert Bazeley and Edmond White Bazeley also served, as did their cousin Arthur Bazeley.