The FRANKLIN family – Commandant FRANKLIN, George Cooper (1846-1919) and Lieutenant FRANKLIN, Harold Gordon Cooper (1885-1957)

George Cooper Franklin (1846-1919) married Lucy Hannah Denne (1851-1930 in 1876).  George was a surgeon with his own practice and was also senior surgeon at Leicester Royal Infirmary.  They had five children:  George Denne Franklin (1877-1915); Maud Elizabeth Franklin (1878-1960), Roger William (1880-1900); Lucy Rowena 1882-1963 and Harold Gordon Cooper (1885-1957).  The three boys all attended Stoneygate School, which had been founded by their grandfather George Barton Franklin, and all were choristers.  The family home between 1879 and 1882 was at 5 Welford Road, then from before 1885 at 39 London Road, where they remained until George’s retirement.

Born in Leicester in 1846, George Cooper Franklin was the son of George Barton Franklin (1815-1893) and Elizabeth Cooper (c1812-1874) who married at Harvey Lane Baptist Church in 1841. George and his family lived at 4 London Road where his father kept a small school – of which George was pupil – before settling in 1859 in what remain the premises of Stoneygate School.  George first served as an apprentice to a Nottingham dentists before studying medicine at London University, from which he graduated in 1867 whilst also working at St Thomas’s Hospital.  In 1873 he was admitted as a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons and took up a post as resident medical officer of the Chest Hospital, Victoria Road, London.  In 1876 George married Lucy, who was the daughter of a workhouse surgeon, at Eastbourne.

They settled in Leicester and joined the congregation at St Martin’s.  George was sidesman from 1882 and Churchwarden in 1894-1897 and again in 1909.  He also served as a Borough Magistrate.  In 1905 he was elected president of the British Medical Association and oversaw its application for a Royal Charter.  In 1910 George retired from medical practice and he and Hannah moved to Hampshire, due to George’s failing health.

Nevertheless in 1914 George returned to medical work as Commandant and Medical Officer of Hawkstone Red Cross Hospital and Medical Officer of two other hospitals in Hampshire that had become medical hospitals. These weren’t military hospitals, though wounded soldiers were sometimes treated there, but George’s service enabled younger and fitter doctors to work in more taxing environments including at the Front.  He also served on the local medical board of the Ministry of National Service.  For this he was one of the first people to be awarded the MBE, in 1917.  George’s obituary in The Hampshire Telegraph later described his service at Hawkstone as “most patriotic and devoted…He was not only held in the highest regard and affection by the other members of the staff, but the wounded soldiers who from time to time were patients in the hospital were unanimous in their appreciation and thanks.”

George and Lucy returned to Fareham, Hampshire, where George died on 2nd June 1919.  He was buried at Fareham cemetery, the funeral service having first taken place at the parish church, where George was a sidesman.  Lucy lived at Fareham until her death in 1930.

Harold Gordon Cooper was born in Leicester on 15th January 1885 and baptised at St Martin’s on 10th March 1885.  He attended Stoneygate School and was captain of the cricket team in 1899.  Unlike brother George, Harold did not follow his father’s medical footsteps but instead joined the Royal Navy on 15th January 1900, rising to midshipman in June 1901.  He was promoted to sub-lieutenant in 1904.  By 1906 he was a lieutenant and was appointed in command of first-class torpedo boat TB65 in May – but was cautioned for grounding due to “want of caution.”  Nevertheless on 30th November 1914 Harold was promoted Lieutenant-Commander.  He served aboard the dreadnought HMS Queen Elizabeth, flagship of the home fleet, from 25th January 1917 to 7th January 1918.  During this period Harold was promoted Commander.  The Queen Elizabeth did not take part in any significant action during that period.  He then served aboard the battlecruiser HMS Lion 9th January 1918 to 23rd December 1918 which conducted patrols of the North Sea.  On 23rd March the Lion sortied to pursue German destroyers but the Germans were too far ahead and no shots were fired.

Harold married Helen Elizabeth Constance Durnford-Slater (1903-) at Instow Parish Church on 12th December 1923.  As the bride’s family was well known in the area, the town and front of the church was gaily decorated.  Harold’s best man was Lieutenant G L Clarke of HMS Barham.  Harold and Helen honeymooned in the south of France.  As Harold was so often away, Helen lived close to her family at The White House in Instow.  At some time during the 1930s they moved a few miles away to Endycross, Northam, which Helen described as an “easy, modern house” with “help 3 times a wk” whilst advertising for a cook-general in 1947.  Immediately before the war Harold and Helen had two live-in domestic servants.  Their son Richard Durnford Franklin (1925-1999) was born in Barnstaple, Devon in 1925 just as Harold was promoted Captain.  Daughter Elizabeth (1928-) was born in 1928.  He was described as “Good looking, of fine physique and magnificent presence. A very nice fellow though noisy in speech.”  Harold was placed in command of HMS Emerald in 1927 and light cruiser Curacoa in 1929, but spent the last few years before his retirement in 1936 as Captain Superintendent of Training.  On the day before his retirement Harold was appointed Rear Admiral.

The outbreak of another world war brought Harold out of retirement. He returned to active duty in May 1940.  Admiral Dunbar-Nasmith, under whose command he worked until May 1941, stated that Harold had “taken a very great interest in his duties but is inclined to worry over molehills which he turns into mountains.  Rather highly strung and temperamental.”  During 1942 and 1943 Harold worked as Naval Officer in Charge of landing base HMS Appledore in Devon, which was very close to his home in Northam.  His commanding officer wrote that “Appledore is now becoming a more important sub-command and Admiral Franklin is well up to the work and is working well in conjunction with our American Allies.  A very pleasant personality and very loyal. Well placed and should continue in his present appointment.”  The United States Government obviously agreed as they awarded Harold the Legion of Merit (Degree of Officer) in 1946.  Despite his duties Harold found time to write the foreword to a short book telling the story of Ilfracombe Harbour, which was sold to raise funds for the RNLI in 1943.

Helen and Harold lived together at Endycross until Harold’s death on 30th June 1957 at Bideford and District Hospital aged 72.  Helen moved to Rotorua, New Zealand, where she died in 1987.

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