He left Melbourne aboard the HMAT Shropshire on September 29, 1916, and was killed almost exactly a year after he went to war. He was 25 years old.
Unit: 57th Battalion (Infantry)
Service: Australian Army
Date of death: 27 September 1917
Cemetery or memorial details: Tyne Cot Cemetery, Belgium
War Grave Register notes: SOLOMANO, Pte. F. J., 2490. 57th Bn. Australian Inf. 27th Sept., 1917. XLIII. C. 20.
Source: AWM145 Roll of Honour cards, 1914-1918 War, Army
A LETTER FROM FRANK TO HIS BROTHER:
(You might send a parcel for Xmas if all goes well)
(nowadays one runs a risk) Ar 4 Aug 13th 17
I now take the pleasure of writing a few lines to you while I have the opportunity of telling you a little extra news. For the last two months, every ten days about eighteen men of my battalion have been granted (10 days) leave to visit London, but most of them, go on to Scotland for the simple reason the Scotch people consider the Australians something extraordinary and some of my mates are leaving for London in the morning. I am taking the liberty of writing some news that if the ordinary military laws are strictly prohibited. Of course as you know the letters are strictly censored and prevent us to give you any dinkum news, now I have a chance I will tell you some of my travels in the war zone. Perhaps Ab has told you that I was on the Somme, even if he didn’t you could guess that we were located about there. I suppose you often read the papers and read the war news, but knowing exactly where we are you wouldn’t be so interested.
My first trip on the Somme was the frontage at Beaulencourt on the Transloy (?) side, it was here where B coy made their raid on the huns on the 14th Feb, our casualties were only fourteen while the huns over doubled ours. Owing to this raid the evacuation of Fritzie on the 17th March was no surprise to us, as one of the prisoners taken said the Germans were moving back about the middle of the month. I haven’t time to tell full particulars but I can tell you the Somme was somme bugger, as that is praising it up. From where Fritz had his position at Bapaume he could see us going in during the day just as plain as daylight, so you can guess the shrapnel some hot, it is simply astounding how many men escape the bursting fragments. While going in we had to go through Debrille (?) wood (taken and retaken seven times) past Flers up to the firing line two miles in front of Bapaume, a distance of five miles from the reserves. No road only duck boards two feet wide and built very winding to miss the shells. You have no idea what a shell is, first of all we generally hear it as it is fired from the gun, then the shrieking sound as it travels towards you through the air, one never knows where it will drop, the hole a shell makes is about 12 feet wide and something up to ten feet deep. You can picture what it must be like when a shell bursts among a section of men, it is no wonder such a number of men are marked missing. Though the first trip in the line is both rather frightening and sickening, one soon gets quite used to it. Dead mates lying at your feet, pieces of men, legs, arms etc. scattered about you. I can say it is no bon. Usually we have four days in the front line then two or three out in reserves, the back for the same period; this may go on for over a month or so. All standing to at night, but in the day each man has an hour shift to put in, the rest of the day sleeping.
Owing to the terrible state of the fields, as it may be expected the rations were damn light during the winter after the 17th March we scored much better roads we had better food or at least more of it. It was my battalion that linked up with the 8th Brigade that captured Bapaume on the 17th March, this was great sport on that day. After we crossed the Bapaume Cambrai main road, the huns had a trench on a rise that we supposed they were holding, four of us detailed to go ahead to see if the trench was occupied or not, however we got there alright and fount it empty, so we stopped and left our rifles, equipment and overcoat there, then returned to report to our battalion, just to show how cunning the huns work, the battalion were marched to hold this trench, they hadn’t got halfway when came the rap a tap tap of the hun machine guns, bullets flying among the battalion. Although ten minutes before the four of us had gone up to the trench and found all things clear, see the huns kept quiet until the battalion came up. Anyhow we get in the trench in the end with not many casualties. Bapaume was blown to pieces, a large town too. You would read about Bapaume town hall being blown up a few days after the town was taken. The second day after the capture I was inside this large building, I happened to go to visit the town that day to see the aeroplane in which Prince Karl (Kaiser’s nephew) was brought down in. A few days later the hall was blown up and covered nearly a hundred Australians, nothing but a mass of bricks.
Our next fright was at Daumetz near Frommicourt on the way to St Quentin and Cambaun. It was here, that we lost half our men (my platoon I mean) by the high explosives. You may see a chap nocking about Talbot, who lost his leg at this place. He married one of the Ramsays (Amherst) when I was home on final, his name is Peter Dalonde and lives down near Trickeys Adelaide Lead.
The next biggest battle and the fiercest of all was at Bullecourt, in fact our brigade lost some dose of men in this battle, a part of the Hindenburg’s line, the huns put up the longest bombardment ever the Australians saw. The 58h battalion on our left nearly two thirds casualties of their men, close on four hundred. Although our battalion losses were not high, our deaths beat the 58th by one. Without the shadow of doubt the Australians did something here, that no other battalion could have beaten. Dead huns two deep and also captured one hundred and eighty prisoners. The hun artillery was somewhat terrific. In losing this position the huns were not too jubilant over. About this vicinity (Vaulx) the fourteen and forty six battalion were cut to pieces, I believe all that was left of the forty sixth were hundred. A good number being taken prisoners. This failure was due to the Tommies on their right, one of the tanks won’t work, then the Tommies refused to budge, the 46th get over alright and took two lines, all the huns had to do was to close in on the first line and had the 46th cut off, then of course the 46th had to fight their way to get back which didn’t come off. I am sorry it is now dark. I am compelled to draw in, we didn’t home today till near dark, as we have been through a brigade stunt today, I didn’t have time write much. At present we are near Armentieres, where we are to group action. I don’t know but with all probability in Belgium and that means very soon. The biggest push ever known in the worlds history. I believe we have prepared for 1 ½ million casualties, so ne might have a chance of getting to blighty. This must come off, the Russians have spoilt this spring campaign. Even then we were fighting no dummies at the game. I feel sure the Germans have their hopes in the submarines. At the same time I believe I will be home before I am twenty five. I’m not sorry I enlisted at the same time this life is no chop. I think if ones name is on the roll the end will come whether fighting or not. All I hope is that we do not experience a winter like the last. Fritz has an invisible gas and the first night played hell on the Scottish, the new gas (two whiffs one goes down south) blisters the face and closes the eyes. For dark I must close- Frank
Excuse the writing
(Don’t show this to them at home )
Only causes worry
All in action by the time you get this
A SECOND LETTER FROM FRANK TO HIS BROTHER:
No 7 (?) Camp Hurdcott
Dec 19th 17
I am writing a few lines to you tonight because we may be leaving for France this week, we are not quite sure but we had our kit was inspected today and according to rumours we are to go any night. We are expecting to go before Xmas much against our wishes, we hoped to have a few days holiday but I still believe we will not be able to get it.
One way I am not too sorry to leave England for it is a fair b - - of a country for cold climate, in Vic you have not the slightest idea what cold is. For the last nine days we have had frosts and fair snodges at that, one of the prettiest sights to see all the trees covered with heavy frost, the worst part here is that the frosts never melt, the frosts are just the same at 4 o’clock as they are in the morning. Yesterday I saw a horse trough three parts full of water and the whole lot was frozen into ice. It is both the fun of walking along the roads, after the busters we get it is a wonder someone doesn’t break his arm.
I suppose things are busy over there with harvest and here the crops are just being sown, all the crops are done by single furrow and [a] different style to ours. A few days ago four of us were detailed to look after the rifle range, the targets are built into the side of a high hill, and our duty was to go back over top of the hill and erect two red flags and keep all persons off the dangerous zone. After we erected the flags we lit a fire and roasted Swede turnips all the morning. All stolen property, in these parts there is no wood so we pinched a few posts out of a paddock. After dinner we walked over the paddocks that have been here for over twelve months and here we are Australians with practically only three months training.
Of course the Tommies are not a patch on the Australian soldier. I only hope the Germans are like the Tommies, then we would make their brains scatter like wild bullocks. The gas attacks are nothing to be afraid of, each soldier is now issued with the latest style of gas helmet on, it is an awkward concern until you get used to it, the worst part is that when you breathe through your nose, the eye glass gets so smudged, then you can’t sight the rifle.
The girls are real nuts on the Australians, it is no wonder of all the marriages that take place in England after the kind way they treat the soldiers. Each day our hut is receiving letters from the London tarts, each night I go in changes, for they give anything that you ask for, I have two or three photos and brooches etc. By the number of soldiers sent to isolation that evidently got more than they asked for.
I wrote to Ab. some time ago, but I have not received any answer, his company was in camp at Cadford, the other side of Salisbury. Excuse all mistakes because we have little time to write letters. Sunday is the only day but last Sunday I was on guard. Hoping All are in the Best of Health at home from your brother Frank"
The Solomano family knew from a letter sent by one of Frank's comrades that he was killed by a shell on September 27, 1917, in the Battle of Polygon Wood.
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