The writer

Gilbert Frankau 

“I thought about Shoreham Camp – Devlish damp!”
Gilbert Frankau remembering Shoreham Camp 1917, ‘Long Ago’, Wipers Times. (Quote credit 8).

Gilbert Frankau was born in London in 1884, the eldest of four siblings. A graduate of Eton College, Gilbert joined the family cigar business as a young man. When war broke out he was managing director of the firm and married with two daughters.

But Frankau was keen to ‘do his bit’ and left the business to volunteer. He entered the army as a commissioned officer and began training at Shoreham Army Camp with the 9th East Surrey Regiment. After 5 months with the infantry in the mud soaked tents near Buckingham Park and in the local billets Gilbert transferred to the Royal Field Artillery. He took on new duties and moved to a different part of Shoreham Camp set aside for the Artillery known as Happy Valley.

He served on the Front line at Loos, Ypres and the Somme where he wrote many poems. In late 1916 he was key in organising a film and press campaign to counter German propaganda. But his experiences on the Front had affected him and in February 1918 he was invalided out of the army with delayed shell shock.

Gilbert made the move into commercial writing following the war writing the popular and semi-autobiographical book ‘Peter Jackson Cigar Merchant’ which offers fantastic insights into life at Shoreham Army Camp.

Information from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Find out more

Read Frankau, G. 1920 Peter Jackson, cigar merchant : a romance of married life  London: Hutchinson – an online version is available at www.archive.org.