On the crest of the high ground upon which Crumpsall Jewish Cemetery is located, there is a grave marker at the base of a large memorial to a Phillip Frankenstein who died in March 1908 aged 75 years. The marker bears the inscription:
In Pround and ever Loving Memory of our Darling Son CYRIL JOSEPH FRANKENSTEIN 2nd Lieut who Fell in Action in France Aug 23rd 1918, aged 22 years. Deeply Mourned by his Parents, Relatives and Friends. May his Dear Soul Rest in Peace
At the time of his death, Cyril Frankenstein was serving with the 13th Battalion of the Tank Corps. He was the son of Harry and Sara Frankenstein of 315 Clowes Street, Higher Broughton, Manchester. His Medal Card records that Cyril originally enlisted into the Army Service Corps as a Private with the service number of MA/102997. He entered France on 22 August 1915 and was commissioned on 26 June 1917. He was entitled to the 1914-15 Star, BWM and Victory.
An obituary in the Salford City Reporter, dated 7th September 1918 records:
SECOND-LIEUT. C. J. FRANKENSTEIN
Second-Lieutenant Cyril Joseph Frankenstein, Tank Corps, son of Mr and Mrs. Frankenstein, 315, Great Clowes-street, Broughton, is reported to have been killed in action in France. Enlisting on the outbreak of war, and being an expert motor driver, he became attached to the Tank Corps and for good work received a commission. He was 22 years of age, and was educated at the Manchester Grammar School. After finishing his education in France and Germany he joined the family business of Messrs. P. Frankenstein & Sons, Newton Heath, of which he was made a director last year.
He is buried in Villers-Bretonneux Cemetery. According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Villers-Bretonneux became famous in 1918, when the German advance on Amiens ended in the capture of the village by their tanks and infantry on 23 April. On the following day, the 4th and 5th Australian Divisions, with units of the 8th and 18th Divisions, recaptured the whole of the village and on 8 August 1918, the 2nd and 5th Australian Divisions advanced from its eastern outskirts in the Battle of Amiens. An account of the circumstances of his death can found immediately following the photographs of his grave.
The Death of Cyril Frankenstein:
In late August 1918, 13th Battalion of the Tank Corps were tasked to support Australian troops south of the Somme. The ensuing action became known as The Battle of the Woods. Earlier battles left the battalion in reduced circumstances and it had to form a Composite Battalion with what tanks and crewmen it had left. Experienced crews with broken up to mix their experience with new unblooded tank crewmen.
By the night of August 21, all the tanks had moved to an assembly area in the Cerisy Valley. The next day, pairs of officers moved forward on foot to recce enemy positions in a large wood which the enemy was holding in strength. There were casualties in doing this.. The attack was timed for 0445 on August 23. Under the heading ‘Fortune of War’, the battalion’s War Diary recorded the following:
At 0430, 15 minutes before Zero, all tanks started. The enemy at this time was putting down a heavy harrassing fire of which the bulk fell behind the tanks. A shell fragment entered the front flap of 2/Lt FRANKENSTEIN’s tank, killing this officer and carrying away the Compass; in consequence the driver lost direction and did not reach the Start Line in time to move ahead of the Infantry. With this exception, all tanks were up in good time and moved ahead as the barrage lifted.
Three pages of the War Diary [provided by the National Archive] describe the advance and what happened to the Tanks and their crews. It sounds very frightening: