Mastin Family Tree
 
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Frank Mastin of Sheffield

(Born at Sheffield in 1896. Died at Gaza, Israel on 2nd November 1917.)

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Frank Mastin of Sheffield
Frank Mastin of Sheffield
Frank Mastin was the son of Arthur Mastin and Esther Ryalls, of 15 Cavendish Street, Sheffield.

We have very little information about his life, but we do know that Frank was educated at the King Edwards School Sheffield from May 1906 to July 1915. He was described as an excellent German Scholar as well as a scientist and mathematician and was popular with everybody at school. In June 1915 he won an Open Science Scholarship at Oriel College Oxford of £80 per year. Unfortunately the war took first priority and he never took up the scholarship. His name is included in the School's war memorial and also his name is the first on the list of awards plaque at the school.

We have rather more information about his death in active service in Gaza, Israel, during the First World War. He was a Second Lieutenant in the 1st Battalion, Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment). We have several amusing but rather politically-incorrect letters, one of which (sent by Frank to his "Uncle", which we assume to be Frank Ernest Mastin, while he was serving in Egypt) is shown at the bottom of this page.

He died, age 21 in the Battle of Gaza on Friday, 2nd November 1917, and is buried in the Gaza War Cemetary, Israel, in Grave XV. A. 8. His service certificate, (copied in the box below), was taken from the Debt of Honour Register of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission web-site.

The following information is also taken from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission web-site:

"Gaza was bombarded by French warships in April 1915. At the end of March 1917, it was attacked and surrounded (in the First Battle of Gaza) by the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, but the attack was broken off when Turkish reinforcements appeared. The Second Battle of Gaza, on the 17th-19th April, left the Turks in possession and the Third Battle of Gaza, begun on the 27th October, ended with the capture of the ruined and deserted city on the 7th November. Later in the month British and Indian Casualty Clearing Stations came up, and General and Stationary Hospitals in 1918. During the 1939-1945 War Gaza was an Australian hospital base, and the A.I.F. Headquarters were posted there. Among the military hospitals in Gaza were 2/1st Australian General Hospital, 2/6th Australian General Hospital, 8th Australian Special Hospital, and from July 1943 until May 1945, 91 British General Hospital. There was a Royal Air Force Aerodrome at Gaza, which from 1941 onwards was considerably developed.
Of Interest
Service Certificate for Frank Mastin from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
 
"In Memory of
Second Lieutenant FRANK MASTIN
1st Bn., Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regt.)
who died aged 21 on Friday, 2nd November 1917.
 
"Second Lieutenant MASTIN was the son of Esther Mastin, of 15, Cavendish St., Sheffield, and the late Arthur Mastin.
 
"Remembered with honour.
GAZA WAR CEMETERY, Israel.
 
"In the perpetual care of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission."
 
Their Name Liveth For Evermore
"About two-thirds of the graves from the 1914-18 War in this cemetery were brought in after the Armistice from the battlefields. The remainder were made by medical units after the Third Battle of Gaza, or, in some cases, represent burials from the battlefields by the troops who captured the city. There are now over 3,000, 1914-18 and 250, 1939-45 war casualties commemorated in this site. Of these, nearly 800 from the 1914-18 War are unidentified and a special memorial is erected to one soldier from the United Kingdom believed to be buried among them. In 107 instances graves identified collectively but not individually are marked by headstones superscribed: "Buried near this spot". Of the British Soldiers, the great majority belonged to the 52nd (Lowland), the 53rd (Welsh), the 54th (East Anglian) and the 74th (Yeomanry) Divisions. The cemetry covers an area of 3.44 hectares and is enclosed by a wall. A stone tablet outside the entrance commemorates the share of the 54th Division in the Battles of Gaza."

Another letter we have (below) is from Frank's superior officer to Frank's mother, Esther, informing her of Frank's death:

Letter
Letter from Frank Mastin to his Uncle (Frank Ernest Mastin?):
 
"Ist Garrison Battalion, Notts. & Derby Regt. E.E.F., c/o G.P.O., London
"Dear Uncle,
"It has just struck me that I haven't heard from you for a Hell of a time, so I'll give you a call to see if you're still in the land of the living. I now have the doubtful honour of living in Egypt - the land of the plagues - none of which have been exaggerated in the least. In fact the biblical expert didn't let himself go sufficiently. I could have described them much better.
"First we have the common Egyptian. This animal, ladies, is chiefly noted for its peculiar smell (or smells) and its inordinate love of hard cash, called in the vulgar tongue 'oof' or 'the where with all'. The wonderful beast, ladies, will strangle its mother for a piastre, eat its young, and drink its bath-water (although the last commodity is very rare). However I'll ring off.
"The thing I can't fathom here is the stink. It's the most wonderful thing on earth. It's composed of garlic, very dead animals, ill kept latrines, not-wisely-but-too-well ladies, sweat of the week-old sort, doubtful eggs, and queer fish. To say any more would probably shock the Censor.
"Another difficulty is the heat. The average temperature in a tent is IOO°F, which is no trifle as you may guess. We go about like half-baked Boy Scouts or mongrel Scotch men, wearing the minimum. It reminds me of revue Beauty choruses, and makes me long for the Empire. The revue is called in the camp 'The B----rs are here!' with reference to some revels with nigger-boys, supposed to be prevalent in the camp.
"You wouldn't recognise me - my arms knees and dial are absolutely buried in mosquito bites. The itch and prickly heat are enough to make a chap swear in Arabic - an accomplishment which I have added to the rest of my remarkable abilities.
"Well, it's a change from Cannock Chase, although a devil of a way from Sheffield. I think they're pushing this war beyond a joke. They don't know when to stop. We hear rumours of an advance here, but all the papers are 14 days late, and you don't really know what's on. The general impression, however, seems to be that the war will be over by Xmas. Good luck to the general impression, say I!
"Well, I hope Aunt & the kids are well. Remember me to them, and don't forget to drop me a line.
"Yrs.
"Frank"
Of Interest
Letter to Mrs Esther Mastin (mother of Frank) from Frank's superior officer:
 
"December 6th
"Dear Mrs Mastin,
"I am very sorry indeed to have to tell you that your son was killed on 2nd November.
"We as a company had been attached to another unit for the Battle of Gaza, and with them, in the mornng, broke through three Turkish lines and constituted ourselves in a position right behind the Turkish flank. Unfortunately, one had not been taken, and at 2.30 in the afternoon my company and one other were told to take this. We ran straight into a Turkish barrage before we had started as they were contemplating a counter attack we were to take, and this caused a bit of trouble as we got a lot of casualties before going over the top.
"Your son was of the greatest assistance to me, rushing forward, revolver in hand, whereupon his men all followed him. When we got within two hundred yards of the position he was in the body, and immediately afterwards was hit by a rifle bullet in the head and died immediately in my arms without uttering a sound.
"His body was brought in the next day and buried in the Northampton Cemetery at a spot called Shuhh Hassan which is a garden with a Sheikh's tomb in it on the side.
"I was not able to be present at the service myself, as we were too busily fighting, for some few days more.
"I was myself the only officer to come back alive and we suffered very heavily but the Turks undoubtedly suffered much heavier casualties than we did, as their trenches were packed and our artillery was firing at them all the time as well as the machine guns on all the ranks, so that none of our brave fellows died in vain, and it was all part of a most glorious victory as we have completely smashed the whole Turkish army out here and advanced over fifty miles.
"I am very sorry indeed that I have not been able to write to you before, but ever since we have been fighting and marching and fighting again all the time.
"I cannot tell you how very sorry I am for your son, having been in the same company as me all the time, and for part of the time being my only officer had become a great personal friend of mine, so that I feel his loss very keenly myself.
"During the battle, and for some time before it, he was as my second in command and I can assure you was a most efficient officer in whom I had every trust and he behaved most splendidly all through.
"If can ever give you any more information de plume let me know and I will do all I possibly can, and I cannot tell you how sorry I am to have to tell you all this for it is a great sorrow to me also.
"Very sincerely yours,
Ronald W. Fay."

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