Frank Dudman, a first cousin three times removed, was born into a country family in Sussex. His father John was a gamekeeper and the children grew up in remote country estates in the area west and north of Midhurst, seemingly changing locations every few years. John Dudman married Harriet Newman in October 1875. Their first child, Alice was born a few months later and she was followed over the next twenty years by ten more children; Frederick, John, George, Harry, William, Mary, Alfred, Charles, Ernest rounding off with Frank on 18th February 1895. Unusually, all of the children survived into adulthood.
Frank attended the parochial school at Easebourne on the outskirts of Midhurst from 1903-1905. The 1911 census records him at home with his parents on the Vinings estate working with his father as an under gamekeeper.
Frank and four of his brothers joined up in the first few months of the war, with Frank being assigned to the 8th Service Battalion of the Royal Sussex regiment. There was a huge feeling of patriotism in the village of Easebourne, backed by Lord Cowdray, who owned most of the village. He promised to keep jobs open for any men who volunteered and offered to make up the wages of any man who went away to the amount he would have been earning had he stayed. At the end of 1914 the Midhurst area played host to over a hundred men from the Gordon Highlanders who were en route for France. They also influenced local men to volunteer and serve their country.
The 8th battalion arrived in France in July 1915 and Frank’s records indicate that he was with them. They took part in all the main battles on the Western Front for the next two years. The 8th was a pioneer battalion meaning that as well as fighting, they undertook labouring duties on and behind the front line; digging trenches, moving supplies and other support roles.
In the late summer of 1917, the 8th battalion were to be found in Flanders preparing for the Battles of Ypres as part of the 54th Brigade in the 18th Division. The third battle of Ypres began on 20th September and was also known as the Battle of Menin Bridge Road. The attack was well planned and the weather in the preceding few weeks was good allowing trenches to be dug and roads repaired. Overall the battle was a success with allies advancing into previously German held territory. However, there were many casualties including Frank Dudman who was killed instantly by a shell during the mêlée on September 22nd. He is buried at the Duhallow Advanced Dressing Station Cemetery and commemorated on the war memorial as Easebourne.
The family were lose two more sons before the war was over. Of the five brothers who went to war, only two came back. The stories of the other two men will be told on the anniversary of their deaths.
John and Harriet continued to live in the Midhurst area until their deaths in 1920 and 1929 respectively. Most of their children and fifteen grandchildren stayed in the Midhurst area, although William joined the navy at the age of 14 and lived in Portsmouth and Alfred became a policeman and lived near Basingstoke.
In Memory of
Corporal FRANK DUDMAN
G/2738, 8th Bn., Royal Sussex Regiment
who died age 22
on 22 September 1917
Son of John and Harriet Dudman, of Upper Vining, Easebourne, Midhurst, Sussex.
Remembered with honour
With thanks to