Army commander dies at Luton Hoo

Lieut-General Sir William Edmund Franklin, K.C.B., commanding the Third Army, Central Force, died suddenly on the evening of October 27th at Luton Hoo, the residence of Lady Wernher, which has been in use as military headquarters since mobilisation took place early in August.

Sir William Franklyn, who was aged 58, was Governor and Commander-in-Chief Designate of Malta, but at the outbreak of war was given a home command and had since been at Luton Hoo. He was engaged in military business until a few minutes before he expired.

On Tuesday morning he went to Hitchin to see some Yorkshire troops. and at 6 pm had an appointment at Luton Hoo with Major-General the Hon E. J. Montagu Stuart-Wortley, who was with him until half-past six. When Major-General Stuart-Wortley left, Sir William Franklyn was temporarily alone, and five minutes later was found to have expired.

Two medical officers who were close at hand were able to diagnose the cause of death, which was perfectly natural, and although the matter was one which necessarily had to be reported to the County Coroner, the Coroner was able to decide, on the information reported to him, that it would not be necessary to hold an inquest.

Born in May 1856, the deceased officer was the eldest son of the late Rev Thomas Edmund Franklyn, of Cheshunt, and was educated at Rugby. He entered the 19th Regiment in 1874, and became captain in the Yorkshire Regiment in 1881, major in 1883 and lieut-colonel in 1896.

For service in India in 1897-98, he was mentioned in despatches. In the summer of 1897, trouble with some of the hill tribes was brought to a head by the tribes, including the powerful Afridi tribe, combining to close the Khyber Pass, which had been held, under conditions, in trust for the Government of India. This led to the military operations known as the Tirah Campaign, which proved costly both in men and money, but resulted in British authority being made paramount throughout a wide stretch of territory between the former British frontier and the Russian and Afghan frontiers.

Lieut-Col Franklyn, as he was then, was in command of his regiment, and was present at the capture of Sampaghna and Arhanga Passes and the operations in the Bazar Valley. In addition to being mentioned in despatches, he received a medal with two clasps and brevet rank.

After this campaign came a staff appointment in the Scottish district, and in 1899 an appointment as assistant military secretary at headquarters. Subsequent appointments were the command of the 10th Infantry Brigade, 5th Division, 2nd Army Corps from 1902 to 1904, and a Director of the Adjutant-General's Department at the War Office, 1904-06, in which latter year he was also gazetted major-general.

The command of the Third Division, Southern Command, until 1911, was followed by the appointment of military secretary to the Secretary of State for War, which, in conjunction with the secretaryship of the Selection Board, was held until this year. In 1912, Sir William Franklyn was made a K.C.B. He was honorary colonel of the Yorkshire Regiment.

The two sons of Sir William Franklyn are in the Army, and one of them, who is with the Royal Field Artillery in France, was mentioned in despatches last week.

Last evening Messrs Neville conveyed the body by motor to London.

In its November 5th edition, The Luton News reported that Sir William Franklyn's funeral had taken place the previous Friday at Paddington Cemetery. The coffin, covered with the Union Jack, was conveyed on a gun carriage, and the Scots Guards supplied a bearer party. The first part of the funeral service was held at Christ Church, Down Street, Mayfair.

From Luton Hoo the officers present included Lieut-General Sir Alfred Codrington (who was to be successor to Sir William Franklyn), Brigadier-General the Hon C. Fortescue, Colonel E. C. Beecher, Colonel Jencken (RAMC), Capt F. Alston (Scots Guards) and the late General's two ADCs, Lieut G. Williams and Sec-Lieut G. Henderson.

[The Luton News, October 29th, 1914, and November 5th, 1914]