Christ College Remembers ... Private Francis Ismay Musk

Christ College Remembers ... Private Francis Ismay Musk

REMEMBRANCE DISPATCH No. 49 COMMEMORATES PRIVATE FRANCIS ISMAY MUSK (DAY BOY 1912-1915) WHO WAS KILLED IN ACTION 27TH AUGUST 1918.


Francis (Frank) Musk joined Christ College as a Day Boy at Easter 1912. His father, Richard Musk, was an organist and teacher of music who had pupils at both Brecon County school and Christ College.

Frank attended both school and left school in 1915 to enter the banking profession. In the following year, aged 18, he joined the 2nd Battalion, Coldstream Guards. He was at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette in September 1916. In June 1917 the Battalion pursued the Germans during their retreat to the Hindenburg line and fought in the Battle of Pilkem Ridge (31st July to 2nd August).

At 7am on 27th August 1918 the Battalion was given orders to attack German positions through the thick undergrowth of St Leger Wood but was soon hard hit by heavy German machine gun fire. At about 10am the Germans counter-attacked from roads south of Croisilles, forcing the Coldstream Guards to withdraw.

310 men of the 2nd Battalion Coldstream Guards died or were wounded in the action, including Private Musk who was killed just over a year after joining up. At first, he was reported as missing but Captain C.P. Blacker wrote to Frank's mother to say that his body was found after the ground was recaptured. "He was a company runner and always fulfilled his duties most efficiently, cheerfully and willingly."

The Breconian recorded that "he was one of those boys who had more in him than appeared on the surface . . . He had few opportunities of distinguishing himself at school: but he did his part in winning victory for us, and Brecon pays a grateful tribute to his memory".

Private Francis Alfred Ismay Musk is buried at the Croisilles British Cemetery. He is remembered on the Roll of Honour in St Mary's Church, Brecon as well as on the Christ College War Memorial.

Mr. and Mrs Musk had worked hard from the very start of the War in raising money and making items for the troops. On 25th September 1921, in memory of their only child, Agnes Musk presented a framed Roll of Honour to St Mary's Church Brecon, where her husband had been the organist. The roll hangs on the south isle of the Church in a dark wood frame. It has the following dedication: "In honoured memory of the following who gave their lives in the cause of freedom and right in the Great War 1914-1918." Carefully handwritten, the Roll records the names of fifty-one local men followed by the words "in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life".