Benporath, Frank Hilton (1885-1916)

 Benporath-Frank-Hilton-Western-Mail-Friday-12-November-1915-p.-29-cropped  

Frank Hilton BENPORATH was born on the 17 February 1885 in Kent, England. His parents were George Hilton BENPORATH and Frances Grace LANCASTER. Being born one of 14 children, Frank must have had a noisy childhood. Sadly, but not unusually for the time, seven of these siblings were to die in infancy in England.

George Hilton Benporath was born in Italy in 1844 to Augustus Benporath and Mary HILTON. It would seem that this is where the family tradition of the middle name of Hilton has come from, that is from George’s mother’s maiden name. George was a stockbroker by trade and worked and lived in London. In 1895 George, his wife Frances and six children immigrated to Western Australia aboard the “S. S. Orient”[1]. George continued to work as a stockbroker at several firms on St George’s Terrace after arriving in Perth.

Great-Britain-SS-Orient

Early Life

Frank Hilton Benporath and his brothers are recorded in the newspapers of the times as entering and placing well in cycling competitions. Frank placed third in the Royal Mint Road Race on Saturday 8 October 1904. In this race contestants rode from the Victoria Park Hotel to the Cannington Hotel and returned. Frank’s time was 23 minutes and 52 seconds.

Frank also reached the rank of Corporal in the No. 1 W.A. Battery under the command of Major Joseph John Talbot Hobbs and served in various military units prior to the outbreak of World War I. Frank was also joined in this service by his older brother Clement Wilder Benporath. The following photograph shows the two brothers in their uniforms when they were serving in the Perth Artillery Unit. Clement Wilder is on the left and Frank Hilton is pictured on the right.

Clement-Wilder-and-Frank-Hilton-BENPORATH-in-Perth-Artillery-Unit-uniforms-prior-to-WWI-Courtesy-of-Graham-Benporath

Marriage and Fatherhood

On the 7 March 1905 Frank Hilton BENPORATH married Stella Rose GORMAN at St Brigid’s Catholic Church in West Perth. Stella had grown up in Albany and was the second daughter of Christopher and Bridget GORMAN.

Frank and Stella had six children, the youngest being a daughter, Eileen M. BENPORATH, who was born on 22 February 1914, just months before the outbreak of World War I. Tragically their son named Hilton Alfred, died at the age of just 11 days in 1908.

Frank and Stella’s two remaining sons, Ernest Hilton Stanislaus BENPORATH and Stanley Frank BENPORATH both served in the military in World War II, Ernest in the Army and Stanley in the Royal Australian Air Force.

Benporath-Stanley-Frank-photo-from-The-Mirror-278-December-1946-p.-10

Life in Victoria Park

Frank was an electrician by trade, and it seems it ran in the family as his brother, Clement, after returning from the war, set up an electrical business called Benporath & Sons. It is not known at present if Frank worked on his own or for a company.

Frank and Stella lived for a while in Colin Street, Perth. They moved to Egham Street, Victoria Park (now Burswood) sometime in 1913. At the time of their residence in the street, there were only four other houses. Frank and Stella’s last child, Eileen was also born at their house in Egham Street in January 1914. Stella and her family are listed as living in Egham Street up to and including 1918.

War Service

Frank enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force at Blackboy Hill on the 17 August 1914, just weeks after war was declared and with his youngest daughter Eileen was not quite six months old.

In his service record Frank is recorded as having brown eyes, black hair and being five foot, six inches tall. One might suspect him as being rather romantic given that he had a tattoo of a heart on his left forearm. Perhaps a loving gesture for his wife?

On the 2 November 1914 Frank embarked from Fremantle on the transport ship “Medic”. He saw action with the 16th Battalion and was wounded at Gallipoli. Hospitalised for a short while he was back at the front only to be wounded again on the 4 September 1915, this time with a shrapnel wound to the head. He recovered at hospital in Malta and returned to action on the Gallipoli Peninsula, on the 30 September 1915.

Whilst serving at Gallipoli Frank was mentioned in dispatches[1] for his bravery in saving wounded comrades. The despatch by Lieutenant Colonel H. Pope read:

“To O.C. Post

I have to bring to your notice the conspicuous bravery of 436 Sgt Howard F. R. and 1777 Lce Cpl. Benporath F. H. rushed across 400 yards of open country and rescued a wounded comrade. This was done under heavy sniper fire.

23/8/15          Lt. Macpherson,

                        “C.Coy”

                        16th AIF”[2]

 

Frank served at Gallipoli until the last days of the ill-fated campaign to take the peninsula and the efforts of many hundreds of thousands of brave men.

He was transferred to the 48th Battalion in early March of 1916 and promoted to Regimental Sergeant Major on the 24 March 1916 at Tel-el-Kabir, Egypt. By June 1916, Frank had joined the British Expedition Forces at Marseilles, France.

During the Battle of Pozieres, Frank was wounded for the third time, this time he was suffering a severe wound to the abdomen. Wounded in Action on the 7 August 1916, Frank suffered these wounds for ten days, dying from them on the 16 August 1916. He was 31 years old.

Frank was buried in the Warloy-Baillon Communal Cemetery Extension in the Somme region of France alongside 1350 other brave men and women who died in service to their country.  

St-Joachims-Catholic-Church-WWI-Honour-Board-Courtesy-Silvia-Zanello

World War I Honour Board, St Joachim’s Catholic Church, Shepparton Road, Victoria Park, WA
(Courtesy of Silvia Zanello)

Legacy

In 1918 the Perth City Council renamed many streets in honour of fallen war heroes. They renamed Duke Street to Benporath Street in honour of Frank Hilton BENPORATH.

Benporath-St-Street-Sign-Benporath-Street-Burswood-WA

Benporath Street sign, October 2020, intersection of Benporath Street and Burswood Road, Burswood (Victoria Park Library Local History Collection)

Three generations of Frank Hilton Benporath’s descendants have also served Australia in conflicts since his heroic service in World War I. His son Stanley Frank BENPORATH in World War II, His great nephew in Vietnam and his great-great nephew Sean has served in Cambodia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

So it was a mighty legacy that the love of Frank Hilton and his wife Stella Rose BENPORATH have left behind and still continues to this day.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

Lest We Forget

 

Family Tree

Frank Hilton BENPORATH

Born: 17 February 1885, Kent England

Father: George Hilton BENPORATH

Mother: Frances Grace LANCASTER

Married: Stella Rose GORMAN 1905, Perth, WA

Died: 16 August 1916 from wounds received in action at Pozieres, France

Children:

  • Ena Gertrude Mary BENPORATH, b. 1907, d. unknown
  • Hilton Alfred BENPORATH, b. 1908, d. 7 September 1908 (11 days old) Boulder WA
  • Stanley Frank BENPORATH, b. 1910 Kalgoorlie, m. 1930 Jessie E. ARMSTRONG, served WWII RAAF (16049), d. 15 February 1984
  • Ernest Hilton BENPORATH, b. 7 May 1916, m. 1932 Ada M WOODS, served WWII Army (WX13662) d. 19 October 1978, Boulder WA
  • Jean Ivy BENPORATH, b. unknown date, m. 20 January 1934 Martin CASELLAS, Highgate WA, d. 25 April 2002, Daglish WA.

Eileen M. BENPORATH, b. 22 February 1914, d. unknown

 

References

1904 'CYCLING.', The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 - 1954), 10 October, p. 8. , viewed 15 Oct 2020, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article25364420

1915 'No title', Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 - 1954), 26 September, p. 1. (Second Section), viewed 15 Oct 2020, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article57795796<="" a="">

1915 ‘Heroes of the Dardanelles.’, Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 – 1954), 12 November, p. 29., viewed 29 Sep 2020, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article37598809

1916 'MENTIONED IN DESPATCHES.', The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 - 1954), 14 April, p. 7. , viewed 15 Oct 2020, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article26976924

1939 ‘Death Notices’, The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 – 1954), 3 April, p. 1., viewed 07 Oct 2020, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page3722443

Australian War Memorial 2017, ‘Mention-in-despatches’, online, accessed 16/10/2020, https://www.awm.gov.au/articles/encyclopedia/mention-despatches.

Benporath, Graham 2020, [family history archive materials on Frank Hilton and Clarence Wilder BENPORATH], unpublished documents. 

The London Gazette, Supplement No.: 29455, 28 January 1916, p. 1209, online, accessed 16/10/2020, https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/29455/supplement/1209

National Archives of Australia, World War I Service Record of: Benporath Frank Hilton SERN 1777 : POB Kent England : POE Blackboy Hill WA : NOK W Benporath Stella, Barcode 3074054.

WorthPoint 2020, BRITISH STEAMSHIP ORIENT VIEW OF SHIP & CABIN PLAN 1879, accessed online 16/10/2020, https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/british-steamship-orient-view-ship-206600179

 

Benporath-article details

 

[1] The S.S. Orient was a British passenger ship operated by the Orient Line. It was built by John Elder & Co. in Glasgow in 1879 (5,386 tons). It regularly sailed between the UK and Australia. Her last voyage was in 1909.

 [1] “One of the oldest Imperial forms of recognition for bravery or distinguished service is when a serviceman or servicewoman was Mentioned in Despatches. A despatch is an official report, written by a senior commander in the field to pass on information about the progress of military operations. Commanders would include in their despatches the names of those deserving attention to their services. Mentions may be for a specific act of bravery or for a period of outstanding service.” Australian War Memorial website: https://www.awm.gov.au/articles/encyclopedia/mention-despatches.

[2] Despatch quotation from Benporath family history document compiled by Graham Benporath, date unknown.