4 December 2012

Dinner Up West

Frank Keeble was an original Officer in the West Ham Battalion. Although he came from the countryside of Essex his mum had been born in the Borough and his grandad was an Alderman.

He won the Military Cross on the Hammers first trench raid in July 1916 where he not only broke his leg but was wounded by shrapnel in three places. He was sent to hospital in Reading for three weeks and then moved into the Atherton Road home of another volunteer in the Hammers, Lt Reg Norman. Reg was a fruit and veg salesman in Stratford market and his dad ran a very large and successful produce distribution.

By September, Frank Keeble was ready to return to the West Ham Battalion but before he did he met up on the 17th with an old pal and fellow Hammer from the early days in Stratford, Reggie Howell. They went 'up West' together and headed for the Trocadero restaurant in Piccadilly. Reggie would have told Frank just what had been happening over the Somme Summer and how the Hammers had been hit with high casualties. Hopefully the news didn't ruin the meal too much.

Here's what they had - Frank and Reggie both signed the menu for posterity

menu courtesy of the Keeble Family

1 comment:

christobel54 said...

I hadn't heard of the West Ham Pals before today and have been reading with interest. This post really caught my eye because my grandfather Frank Keeble also came from Essex and fought in the Great War. He was not the same Frank Keeble as he went to Canada as a Barnardo's boy and enlisted over there in 1915 in the Royal Canadian Dragoons. When his regiment came to England he wasted no time in getting back to Kelvedon and reestablishing contact with childhood friends, one of whom was my grandmother. Before being deployed to France he was based in Folkestone where they were married. He fought in the trenches in France but suffered the effects of mustard gas. He was hospitalised with flu in 1919 but joined the mounted police in Brixton and they had 3 children, one of which was my mother. Very sadly he died of TB in 1923 and my grandmother remained a widow for 63 years. He wouldn't have been a West Ham supporter but his brothers in law from Kelvedon certainly were. As a South Londoner I have supported West Ham since 1978 but it was only when I started to research my family history did I discover it's in my blood! Although this is a different Frank Keeble maybe we are related in some way? It would be interesting to find out.