Frank Tapping (1889 – 1963)
Written by Mark Tapping
Frank left school in Easter, 1906 to enter into the business world. This was a departure from family tradition because he had shown an aptitude for, and an interest in, design and draftsmanship Frank now undertook training with a firm of architects in Aylesbury. However, the pull of the land proved to be far too strong and eventually Frank returned to the farming world, to helping his father (with most of his brothers) in running Bedgrove Farm. One brother, Harry (Henry – the eldest) had by now left Bedgrove Farm and was farming in his own right at Wendover Dean where he was to stay (a confirmed bachelor) until his retirement in 1921. Frank, now the young farmer, out and about the countryside with his father or attending hunts and Hunt Balls in Aylesbury and elsewhere, led a pleasant, uncomplicated life. Among the girls he met was a pretty, vivacious young farmer’s daughter from Aston Clinton named Flo’ (Florence Ethel) Hall and although admired her very much, nothing came of it at the time.
Tradegy first touched Frank closely in 1912 for then, when he was 22 years old, his younger and very close brother Fred died in the Royal Bucks Hospital in Aylesbury after an operation following a sudden attack of appendicitis. Fred had been a young man with a particularly bright and happy disposition and his death both shocked and moved the family deeply. Soon, however, a far more widespread tragedy was to effect them as the dark clouds of war gathered over Europe and eventually exploded into the catastrophe of World War 1. As 1914 ended and 1915 began, it gradually became apparent that the war was neither to end quickly nor was it to be confined to the professional soldiers. Kitchener’s “Your country needs YOU” poster with its pointing finger began to appear throughout the country and soon the young man (either effected by a sense of duty or by the thought of excitement and adventure) began to join the armed forces. Frank’s elder brother Will (William Ernest) joined the army and in February, 1915 Frank himself went to war.
He volunteered into the 1/1st Royal Bucks Hussars and after an all too brief period of basic training lasting but two months, he accompanied his regiment on its transfer to become part of the British garrison in Egypt, the regiment was dismounted and issued with infantry equipment and a bare seven months after leaving the peaceful Bucks countryside, Frank found himself pitchforked into the bloody horrors of the Gallipoli campaign. Landing at Sulva Bay in August, 1915 the regiment (serving as part of the dismounted 2nd. Mounted Division) took part in various actions including the assaults on the infamous Scimitar Hill (or Hill 70) and Chocolate Hill. Here the horrors of war were abruptly brought home to the gentle Bucks youngster as he saw numbers of his companions terribly wounded and many die horribly, some even being roasted alive as they lay helpless in burning undergrowth. Long after, Frank was to describe the scene as smelling like a farm where foot and mouth disease had struck and caused all the cattle to be slaughtered and then burned: the rest of his life he hated war and violence because of the hurt and misery they brought. The survivors of the fighting also suffered, from heat, hunger, the discouragement of failure and from diseases such as malaria which was to trouble Frank regularly for many years after.