WITH the First World War claiming over one million UK lives, many families had to suffer the heartbreak of having sons and fathers not returning home.
So it was surely a stroke of good fortune that a family in Stroud had four brothers serve on the Western Front who all returned home safely.
Frank William Harold, eldest son of Henry Charles and Clara Yost’s 11 children who lived on Chapel Street, left for France in 1914 and fought with the Army Service Corps.
Younger brothers Phillip Henry, Reginald Charles and Henry Charles joined the Western Front later. All four brothers were wounded throughout the war but all returned home to Stroud safely.
Frank joined the Army 1912 and left the UK for France on August 10, 100 years ago on Sunday, with the initial British Expeditionary Force.
He went on to serve for 54 months in Belgium and France, with only 14 days’ UK leave during that time. He was the holder of the 1914 Star Medal, known as the Mons Star, and other service medals.
Frank’s son Brian Yost, who lives in Hucclecote, said that his family were lucky to have all four brothers return home.
He said: “Some families lost three or four sons in the war – they lost the lot. There’s also only a few villages in Britain without a First World War memorial, so our family was very lucky.
“I was too young to ask my father anything about the war, and he was of that generation who didn’t talk about their experiences.
“Some of them saw horrific things that they just wanted to shut out of their minds such as seeing their mates blown to pieces.”
It was in France that Frank met Brian’s mother, Dorothy Kathleen, inset, a member of the Queen Mary’s Army Auxillary Corps. They married in 1919 when they returned from the war.
Frank was released from the Army in 1939 after 20 years service, but was quickly called back up when World War Two broke out. He served mainly in the UK.
He died in 1947, a year after he left the Army for the second time. Brian was nine years old when he died.
The military tradition has been continued in the Yost family. Brian served for 39 years in the Royal Air Force and has children who joined the military.
He said: “It’s important that we revisit these stories, especially for the younger generation, because they’re not taught history like I was and may not know anything about the First World War.”