FROST, Henry Shelmerdine
Died: 5 March 1941, Battle of Keren
Buried/ Memorial: Keren War Cemetery, Eritrea
Address: ‘The Dene’, Hoole Road, Hoole
The Battle of Keren (Italian: Battaglia di Cheren) took place from 3 February to 27 March 1941. Keren was attacked by the British during the East African Campaign of the Second World War. A force of Italian regular and colonial troops defended the position against British troops (mostly from Sudan and British India) and Free French forces. The town of Keren, in the colony of Italian East Africa, was of tactical importance to both sides. The road and railway through Keren were the main routes to the colonial capital of Italian Eritrea at Asmara and the Red Sea port of Massawa, which surrendered to the British after the battle.
Cheshire Observer and Chester Chronicle 22 March 1941
BELIEVED WOUNDED AND MISSING
CAPTAIN HENRY S. FROST
“News was received in Chester this week that Capt Henry S Frost of the Cheshire Regiment, second son of the late Lieut-Col. J.M. Frost, D.S.O., and of Mrs Meadows Frost of “Dene” Hoole, was reported wounded and missing. Last week his mother received an official intimation that he had been killed on active service. A memorial service was arranged to be held in the Regimental Chapel in Chester Cathedral, but on the news being received that Capt Frost was believed wounded and missing the service was cancelled.
Capt Frost, who is 27, is a grandson of the late Ald. Sir John Frost, who was Mayor of Chester during the last war. He was educated at Moorland House School (Heswall) and Charterhouse. On leaving school he went on a world tour.
He joined the Cheshire Regiment in 1934, and two years later was posted to the 1st battalion in India. He served at Ambala and Kasauli and for a time was stationed at the Small Arms School at Ahmednagar, where his platoon used to give demonstrations in machine gunnery. In 1938 he was appointed A.D.C. to the Governor of Sind but he relinquished that appointment on the outbreak of war and rejoined his regiment.
Friends in Chester and the county hope Mrs Meadows Frost will soon receive news of her son’s safety.”
Sadly, there was no such good news. Capt Frost had volunteered to join No 51 Middle East Commando which was set up in October 1940. In January they set sail from Suez for Port Sudan with a view to being used against the Italian forces eventually with regard to the fortress of Keren in Eritrea. There is a detailed account of the action in which Capt Frost was killed in “The Middle East Commandos” by Charles Messenger, as well as other references to him.
Further, as an officer of the Cheshire Regiment he also features in the officer casualties section of “The Cheshire Regiment in the Second World War” by Crookenden.
CAPTAIN HENRY SHELMERDINE FROST
KILLED IN ACTION – 5TH MARCH 1941.
“In Henry Frost, The Regiment has lost one of its best and most loyal Officers.
He was a true Cheshire man being born and bred in the County and living for most of his life at The Dene, Hoole, Chester. He was educated at Thorland House, Heswall, and later at Charterhouse.
In January 1932 and wishing to make the Army his career, he found that he was too old to enter the RMC Sandhurst, and decided to take a commission through the Supplementary Reserve.
After attachments to The Border Regiment, 4th Dragoon Guards and Royal Artillery, he was finally gazetted to The Regiment on the 4th June 1934.He was not long in being posted to the 1st Battalion in India, with which he remained until shortly after the beginning of the war.
His quiet, efficient manner and his intense keenness and loyalty endeared him to everyone. He was a born leader and it is not surprising that his natural quest for adventure led him to join the Commandos early in the war.
He was killed leading a Commando raid in Eritrea, for which he received a posthumous “Mention in Despatches.” It was his usual courage and self-sacrifice, when already wounded, which led to his death.
Henry enjoyed life to the full and there was nothing in which he was not interested. He had the happy gift of passing on to those under him his spirit of keenness and zest for living. His Platoon and Company were always happy, contented and efficient.
Apart from soldiering he was also keen on all “outdoor” sport, being a good horseman, shot and polo player; in India he has whip to the 1st Battalion pack
We all loved him.”