Frank Beck (British Army officer)
Born in Oxwick, Norfolk, he was the son of Edmund Beck, Land Agent to the British Royal Family at Sandringham. Educated at Norfolk County School, North Elmham, he inherited his father’s position on the King’s estate, serving as Land Agent at Sandringham to Edward VII when Prince of Wales, 1891–1901, and when King, 1901–10; and to King George V from 1910 until the war. He was appointed a Member of the Royal Victorian Order (4th Class) in 1901 and created a Knight of the Order of St Olav by the King of Norway, 13 November 1906.
Beck was instrumental in the formation of the Sandringham Company of Volunteers ('E' Company, 5th Battalion Norfolk Regiment, Territorial Force), which included grooms, gardeners, farm labourers and household staff from the King's estates. Beck raised the company as a Volunteer Force unit in 1906.
Despite his age and the fact King George V told him not to go, he volunteered for foreign service after the outbreak of war and served with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force at Gallipoli, leading his company during the attack on Anafarta on 12 August 1915. He fought alongside his two nephews, Arthur Evelyn and Albert Edward Alexander Beck, who were both awarded the Military Cross. On that day, a large part of the Norfolks (including Capt. Beck and many of the Sandringham Company) were missing in action. For several years, nothing was known of their fate.
Queen Alexandra, Edward VII's widow, took a particular interest in establishing what had happened to the men, many of whom had been her employees. Many years later, a legend sprang up that they had disappeared in a massive cloud of unknown, supposedly supernatural, origin. However, after the Armistice, 180 bodies were found "scattered over an area of about one square mile, at a distance of at least 800 yards behind the Turkish front line."
This information was kept from Queen Alexandra as it was felt she would be too distressed at the news.
Beck is commemorated on the Helles Memorial and with a brass plaque in the Church of St Mary Magdalene, Sandringham. He and the 18 other men from the company who died at Suvla Bay, Gallipoli are commemorated on the Sandringham war memorial cross and in West Newton parish church.
Beck was survived by his wife Mary Plumpton Wilson and their 5 daughters; the only son, Jack had died in infancy.