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Lieutenant-Colonel Frank Page, DSO and bar, (1878-1917)

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Frank Page was the second son of Alfred Page, managing director of Gilbertson and Page, Game Food Manufacturers, the family company in Hertford. He was born and lived in Highfield House, adjacent to the Top Field, a house which belonged to the School for many years, serving as the Music Department until its recent sale. An Old Boy of the School, Frank joined his father’s business and ultimately became its managing director himself. An outstanding townsman, in 1912 he became the borough’s youngest Mayor. On election to its Council in 1908 he declared: I was born and bred here, received my education in the town and, with the exception of eighteen months spent abroad, I have lived practically the whole of my life here … It is my desire that Hertford should be a place in which the inhabitants can live happy and healthy lives. We are all justly proud of Hertford and its ancient traditions, and we want it to keep abreast of the times, we want to be progressive, but at the same time we want our progress to be well considered and not to act by hasty steps.

The eighteen months abroad were when he served as a young man with the Hertfordshire Volunteers in the Boer War. He became Captain in command of HQ Company of the Territorials, the 1st Battalion of the 1st Hertfordshire Regiment with whom he went to France in November 1914. This battalion came under the command of the 4th Guards Brigade, nicknamed The Herts Guards. It was said of them “They are fine fighters, and have been trusted to hold positions which only the Guards Brigade have been allowed to hold.” On 23rd June 1915 Frank Page was mentioned in despatches and two days later he was awarded the DSO. In 1916 he took command of 1st Herts as Major, then Lieutenant‑Colonel, and was awarded a bar to his DSO in November. The citation read: For conspicuous gallantry in action. He handled his Battalion in the attack with great courage and determination. Later he showed marked ability and judgment in consolidating his first objective, thereby repelling enemy attempts to counter‑attack. On 31 July 1917, at the battle of St Julien, the official report stated that “He was killed instantly by a piece of shell.” The Battalion was cut to ribbons on this day: of 600 officers and men, 240 were killed and 230 wounded (all the officers being casualties).

Not only was Frank Page a brave and heroic soldier, he also had in him that vital spark of humanity which makes a good commanding officer, respected and admired by his men. Lieutenant E.S.Cranley described him as: a most, painstaking and efficient officer, who spared no effort to make his men fit for whatever might be required of them; ever alive to the wants of his men, he would never think of food for himself until he was sure that the men in his company had been provided for. Lt-Col Frank Page’s name appears on the Menin Gate Memorial, on the Hertford War Memorial, on the Hertfordshire Regiment’s memorial in All Saints, and on the School’s own War Memorial. He lived at Highfield, Queen’s Road, adjacent to the Top Field, a house which had belonged to the School for many years until its sale in 1998.