DescriptionFrank was born in 1899 in Wokingham to Charles and Fanny (nee Bartholomew). Charles and Fanny were both born in Great Bedwyn in Wiltshire and Charles was a domestic gardener. In 1911 they lived at Toutley Cottages, Kings Street Lane, Winnersh and Frank was at school. By 1916 Frank had joined the Navy, probably being inspired by his elder brothers. He was a ‘Boy First Class’, 16 years old and amongst the youngest to serve in the First World War. Little did he know that in the next few months he would be sharing a ship (HMS Hampshire) with Britain’s greatest soldier of the time, Lord Kitchener of Khartoum, the face that recruited a million soldiers. In 1914 on war's outbreak Kitchener became Secretary of State for War, but as the war rapidly changed shape the rising influence of Lloyd George (Prime Minister 1916-1922) saw Kitchener's influence decline.
When Russia called for strategic discussions, it was Kitchener who was the natural choice to represent Britain. His carrier was to be HMS Hampshire and on it, waiting to see the great man, was the young Frank Potter. HMS Hampshire never made it past the Orkneys and in appalling weather was driven into a mine or possibly a reef and was sent to the bottom of the sea. With it went the man who inspired a nation to risk their lives and take up arms and with it too went the 16 year old Frank. Although Frank was the youngest of the family to be at war, he was the first to die.
From the Reading Mercury 31st March 1917: ‘…our sympathies go out to Mr and Mrs Potter of Wokingham, their son Corporal Reginald Potter wounded recently, it has been found necessary to amputate his injured leg. He was a chorister at St Paul’s Church. Another of their sons Petty Officer George Potter of HMS Liverpool died recently of enteric fever and another was lost on HMS Hampshire and yet another Percy was badly injured and is still in hospital.’
The Potter family had 6 sons go to war. Three of them died: Frank, George and in 1917, Thomas.
“Frank Potter ,” Wokingham's Virtual Museum, accessed December 13, 2019, https://wokingham-tc.gov.uk/museum/document/WTH0385.