Captain Thomas Laurence FROST – Adjt. 1st Battn. [Initially: Lieutenant, Transport Officer, ‘D’ Company]
Burial: Bedford House Cemetery Grave: Enclosure No.2. IV. A. 41. Killed in Action: 28 March 1915 Age: 25 Awards: Mentioned in Despatches
Personal: Thomas was born 9th June 1889, the son of Sir John Meadows and Henrietta (née Kelsall) Frost (married 17th April 1884), of Upton Lawn, Chester, according to Crookenden, a descendant of the original Miller of the Dee.
Thomas had two older brothers, John Meadows (born at Dee Lodge, Chester, 22nd April 1885 – see Footnote below) and Hugh Kelsall, born at Dee Lodge, 27th April 1886). A younger sister, Edith Mary, died, aged 7, on 21st July 1905.
Thomas’ mother, Henrietta, died at Upton Lawn (left) on 21st December 1906. Probate Records show she left £40,054 18s 10d to her husband and eldest son. (£40054.94 is equivalent in value to about £6,230,000 today – 2023.)
Her widowed husband continued to live at Upton Lawn until his death on 28th December 1935. (His estate was valued at £281,438 16s 3d (£281438.81 – about £25,600,000 today).
Thomas attended Charterhouse School (Gownboys House), between 1901 and 1907 and spent 3 years with the Charterhouse Cadet Corps. He went up to Clare College, Cambridge, from Charterhouse in October 1907 where he spent a further 3 years with the Cambridge University OTC, in the Cavalry Squadron. It was reported that his weak health prevented him from taking a great part in College life, though he had many friends in and out of Clare.
Sir John was Mayor of Chester from 1913 to 1919 and was knighted in 1918. (The Times, 3 June 1918) He spent 4 years in S. Africa, 1921-25, and died on 28th December 1935, aged 79.
Sir John was also responsible for the building of the Chester War Memorial which bears the inscription:
On enlistment at 21, Thomas’ height was 5’ 7” (1.70 m.) and he weighed 10 st. 13 lbs. (69.4 kgs.) with good hearing and vision and generally ‘fit’.
Probate, 12th May 1915, shows that Thomas left the balance of his estate (£14,245 5s 0d) divided 1/3 to his godson, Henry Frost, 1/3 to his brother, John Meadows Frost, Jnr. and 1/3 to his cousin, Leopold Grantley Norton, a Lieutenant in the Durham Light Infantry. Unfortunately his cousin had been reported ‘missing’ on 20th October 1914, and on application to the Court of Chancery, this part of his estate passed to his father, as next of kin. The sum of £14,245 5s, has an equivalent value of about £1,900,000 today (2023).
Military Service: Thomas was Commissioned into the Cheshire Regiment in 1911. The London Gazette (10th February 1911) states: “Cheshire Regiment: Second Lieutenant Thomas Lawrence Frost, from Unattached List Territorial Force (University Candidate), to be Second Lieutenant. Dated 11th February, 1911.”
His Medal Index Card shows he entered France with the 1st Battalion on 16th August 1914 as the Transport Officer attached to ‘D’ Company. This company fought on the right of the line during the Battle at Audregnies under Captains Ernest Rae-Jones and William Suttor Rich.
[N.B. This was, of course Grandad Conway’s Battalion and Lt. Frost was one of his Officers]
On 22nd October 1914 after the death of Captain Mahony in hospital, Lieutenant Frost took over command of the Battalion. He was relieved by Captain Woods three days later, but assumed command again on 30th October and led the depleted Battalion, now in 15th Brigade, to Neuve Chapelle and the First Battle of Ypres. On 4th November Captain J. A. Busfield, Cheshire Regiment, took over command of Battalion. Lieutenant Frost took over duties of Adjutant.
Thomas wrote letters home to his father describing the 1914 ‘Christmas Truce‘. These were reproduced in part in “Silent Night, The Story of World War 1 Christmas Truce” (Sidney Weintraub)
Captain Frost was killed in action by a sniper on 28th March 1915, and the Memorial in Chester Cathedral commemorates him especially. Captain Frost was the last surviving officer of the 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, who had been serving since Mons.
Thomas is also Commemorated on the Upton-by-Chester War Memorial.
Mentioned in Despatches: Captain T. L. Frost was one of 18 Officers and Other Ranks ‘mentioned’ in Field Marshall J.D.P. French’s Despatch of 15th January 1915: “In accordance with the last paragraph, of my Despatch of the 20th November, 1914, I have the honour to bring to notice names of those whom I recommend for gallant and distinguished service in the field.” (London Gazette Issue 29072 published on the 16th February 1915. Page 1662)
Thomas’ older brother, Lieutenant Colonel John Meadows Frost, D.S.O. served with the Royal Field Artillery.
In the December quarter 1910 John had married Olivia Shelmerdine and they had 5 children, John, Henry, Diana, Thomas Lawrence and Nancy. He died on 15th August 1923, aged 38, at The Nursing Home, Chapel Lane, Boughton, near Chester. His son, Captain Henry Shelmerdine Frost D.S.O., M in D., lost his life on active service 5th March 1941.
He too served with the Cheshire Regiment and No. 51 M.E. Commando. (A memorial window was placed in Chester Cathedral in their memory by Thomas’ father, John Meadows Frost, Snr.)