The Queens Own Royal West Kent Regiment

Captain F R Latter


Captain Francis Robinson LATTER,  7th Battalion, Queens Own Royal West Kent Regiment, died of wounds,  3rd May 1917,  age 22.

Born 17th November 1894, High Street, Tenterden, Kent.

Second son of Arthur Herbert Latter, (Old Kings School, Canterbury), solicitor, and Ada Mary Messenger, of Tenterden. Kent.

Educated at Junior King’s School, Canterbury, Kent from May 1904 and at the King’s School Canterbury to April 1912. Member of the Officer Training Corps and achieved Certificate A. 

His uncle Algernon Latter was Headmaster of the King's School from 1916 to 1927.

1912, joined the London County and Westminster Bank as a clerk. Enlisted at 10 Stone Buildings, Lincolns Inn as Private 749 in the Inns of Court Officer Training Corps on the 1st of December 1913. At a medical examination, he was six feet two and half inches tall; he was assigned to A Company. 

Following the outbreak of war he applied for a commission in the 4th Battalion Queens Own (Royal West Kent Regiment) (Special Reserve of Officers) on the 8th of August 1914 and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 7th Battalion Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent Regiment) on the 3rd of September 1914. Promoted  Lieutenant, 9th of November 1914; Temporary Captain, 10th of April 1915.

He embarked for France with his battalion from Southampton on board the SS "Mona Queen" at 6.45pm on the 26th of July 1915 and disembarked at Le Havre. 

1st of July 1916, wounded during the Battalion’s abortive attack at Montauban;  gunshot in the left thigh, was evacuated to No. 2 Red Cross Hospital at Rouen; 2nd July 1916, to England on Hospital Ship "St Patrick" .

5th of July 1916,  Medical Board, Caxton Hall, London - wound of the Left thigh; a bullet entered the outer side of thigh 2" above the knee. The exit wound being 1 1/2" above the other side of knee joint - both wounds septic; both wounds now slightly cleaner - general condition good. X-ray - no bone injury of metal fragments.

17th of August 1916, Medical Board, Eastbourne, pronounced fit for active service; posted to 9th (Reserve) Battalion, Royal West Kent Regiment, at Shoreham. 31st of August 1916 ordered to return to France via Folkestone.

On the 3rd of May 1917 he was the Officer Commanding D Company at Cherisy. The village was taken and cleared and the leading companies advanced to the "Blue Line" where their right flank was flung back as the attack by 54th Brigade had failed against the uncut wire and heavy German fire. D Company was designated as "moppers up", to move behind the leading companies and deal with any remaining pockets of resistance. D Company reached the "Blue Line" at 6.15am and they began to consolidate a line on the road leading north east from Cherisy to Vis en Artois. They did not remain there long as they were ordered to establish touch with the Buffs and 54th Brigade on their right. This move was carried out by Captain Latter "with much skill and gallantry" though he was wounded during fighting and could not establish contact with 54th Brigade. The Germans counter attacked the right of the line exploiting the gap between the two Brigades "giving Captain Latter and his men good targets in plenty". Soon the "Blue Line" became untenable and Latter "who was last seen setting a fine example of gallantry and devotion" offered a stout resistance until he and his men were overwhelmed by numbers in "Cable" Trench. He was wounded and reported missing. 

Nothing was heard of him until the end of the war when Sergeant G. Wilkins 7th Battalion Royal West Kent Regiment returned to England, having been captured during the fighting that day. In a letter dated the 8th of January 1919 he wrote : - “In the attack I was wounded and the same afternoon a German who was standing guard over me pulled a cigarette case out of his pocket which I recognised as belonging to Captain Latter. I asked him where he got it from, he told me from a tall officer, he also took from his pocket a disc which on reading it, I found belonged to Captain Latter. I asked him if the officer was dead and he said “Yes”.”

The War Office wrote to his father: - "In view of this evidence and also to the length of time since he was reported wounded and missing, the death of the above named officer has now been accepted for official purposes as having occurred on or since 3rd May 1917."

Commemorated at Arras Memorial, Bay 7, France & Tenterden War Memorial

London Gazette 3rd February 1915.

The dates of appointment of the temporary Second Lieutenants shown in the under mentioned Units are as now stated, and not as previously notified in earlier Gazettes.

The Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regiment, 7th Battalion. - F. R. LATTER. Dated 3rd September, 1914.

This page was last updated on 09-Nov-2015.

Copyright © 2008 Janet & Richard Mason