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14060 Superintending Clerk
Royal Engineers

Lieutenant Colonel Edward De Santis
2002. All Rights Reserved.


This narrative of the life and military service of Rudolph Frankenberg was written as a result of research done by the author on another Frankenberg who also served in the Royal Engineers. Gerald Frankenberg, Rudolph's son, served in the Great War of 1914-1918 and was awarded the Military Medal for his service. This medal is now in the author's collection. Attempts to find Gerald's service papers were fruitless; however, thanks to the alert research of Stuart Gase of West Drayton, Middlesex, Rudolph Frankenberg's papers were located. A positive connection between Rudolph and Gerald was made by virtue of the fact that Rudolph had a son named Gerald who was born in Malta. This fact is substantiated from two sources; Rudolph Frankenberg's service papers and the Army Chaplains Registers of Births and Baptisms, 1800-1900 found on the Malta Family History website on the Internet. Both of these sources list a son by the name of Gerald Frankenberg born to Sergeant Major Rudolph Frankenberg and his wife Jane in Malta on the 4th of November 1888.

Unless otherwise noted, the details supplied in this narrative were extracted from Rudolph Frankenberg's service papers obtained from the Public Record Office at Kew, Richmond, Surrey. The records were found in the WO 97/4877 files.


Rudolph Frankenberg was born in the Parish of St. Johns, in the Town of Manchester, in the County of Lancashire. Nothing is known of Rudolph's father, as he was deceased at the time Rudolph enlisted in the Army and is not listed in his service papers as his next of kin. However, based on the birth dates of Rudolph's siblings, Mr. Frankenberg was alive at least until 1871 when his last child was born [1]. Rudolph's next of kin at the time of his enlistment in the Army was given as his mother, Christant Frankenberg.

Christant Frankenberg had been born in Leeds, Yorkshire in 1830 [2]. Rudolph's father was probably an immigrant from Germany when he married Christant [3]. In 1877, the year Rudolph enlisted in the Army, his mother was living at 6 Binfinck Street in Hulme, Manchester [4].

Rudolph was the oldest of five children. He had three sisters; Louisa (born in 1860), Josephine (born in 1867) and Beatrice (born in 1871). His brother Julius was born in 1864. As a young man, Rudolph worked as a Clerk. When he enlisted in the Army he listed his religion as Church of England. Whether or not Rudolph Frankenberg was a Christian is open for debate despite the entry in his military service record. When filling out the attestation papers of a recruit, it was not uncommon for the recruiting officer or sergeant to put down Church of England as the recruit's "default" religion. This made it easier for all concerned given the lack of attention in Victorian times to special diets or religious holidays, especially for those of non-Christian faiths. It is also possible that Frankenberg was reluctant to admit that he was not a Christian, as it was probably not easy for a Jew to admit that he came from outside a religious community of the majority of soldiers around him. It would have been particularly difficult when joining a non-traditional group such as the Army, made up almost entirely of Gentiles. The doubt concerning Rudolph Frankenberg's religion comes not from his military service records, but rather from those of his son Gerald who joined the Royal Engineers some years later. Although Gerald's service papers were not available in the Public Record Office, his is listed in the Reverend Michael Adler's book entitled British Jewry Book of Honour [5]. Although Frankenberg is not a common name in England, Adler's book also lists 303946 Pioneer W.E. Frankenberg, Royal Engineers. The author could make no connection between W.E. Frankenberg and Rudolph Frankenberg or his family [6].


The following is a description of Rudolph Frankenberg at the time he enlisted in the Army in 1877:


19 years.


5 feet 5 inches.

Chest Measurement:

33 inches.



Eyes :

Dark grey.


Light brown.

Distinctive Marks:

Testicles very small [7].

The following is a description of Rudolph Frankenberg at the time he was discharged from the Army in:


49 years.

Height: :

5 feet 8 inches.

Chest Measurement:

45 inches.







Marks or Scars:

None [8].

It us interesting to note that during his 30 years of service, Rudolph Frankenberg grew 2 inches in height. His chest size also grew from 33 inches to 45 inches. At the time of his discharge he certainly would have been described as a Warrant Officer with a "barrel-chest." His weight is not given either during the time of his enlistment or at the time of his discharge. Based on his 30 years of staff assignments, most probably of a sedentary nature, it is likely that his girth expanded considerably. One can imagine that his waist size probably increased in proportion to his chest size.


Rudolph Frankenberg was recruited for service in the Army at Manchester, Lancashire on the 8th of January 1877 by a Sergeant A.B. Giles. He enlisted for a period of 8 years with the Colours and 4 years in the First Class Army Reserve with the promise of a free kit [9]. Upon his enlistment he answered the usual questions put to the recruit and responded that he was not an Apprentice and was not married. He also indicated that he was not a member of the naval or military forces or the militia, that he had no prior service in the Army, Marines, Militia or Royal Navy, and that he had never been rejected as unfit for service in any of Her Majesty's forces.

On the 8th of January 1877, Frankenberg underwent a medical examination at Manchester. He was examined by Surgeon Major J. Donald, Deputy Inspector General of Hospitals, Army Medical Service, and was found fit for military service [10].

Justice of the Peace W. Booth administered the Oath of Attestation to Frankenberg at Manchester on the 10th of January 1877. Immediately following his attestation, Frankenberg reported to the School of Military Engineering at Brompton Barracks in Chatham, Kent. He was re-examined on the 13th of January at Chatham by Captain R.D. Bennett, Surgeon, Army Medical Department and again was pronounced physically fit for military service. On the same day as this second medical examination, Frankenberg's enlistment was certified by the Superintending Officer and Approving Field Officer at Chatham. On that day he officially became 14060 Sapper Rudolph Frankenberg, Royal Engineers.

Sapper Frankenberg underwent recruit training to become an engineer soldier at Chatham During the period from January 1877 to July 1878 [11]. Upon completion of this training, he was immediately assigned to the 31st Fortress Company, Royal Engineers for service abroad.


Sapper Frankenberg departed Chatham on the 12th of July 1878 for the port of embarkation in preparation for sailing to Cyprus. On the following day he sailed with the 31st Fortress Company on board HMS Simoon and arrived at Matthiadis, Cyprus on the 28th of July 1878 and in August of 1878 the company was garrisoned in Mathiati. In January of 1879, after five months at Mathiati, the 31st Company was moved to Limassol, the main seaport city of Cyprus located in southern part of the island Akrotiri Bay. Frankenberg and his company were then moved to Platrio in April, to Troodos in June, and then on to Polemedia in May September of 1879. While on Cyprus serving with the 31st Fortress Company, Sapper Frankenberg's duties would have involved engineer works associated with constructing and maintaining the defences of the ports and harbours in Cyprus so that these facilities could be used by the Royal Navy as refueling stations.

Sapper Frankenberg left the 31st Fortress Company on Cyprus near the end of April of 1880 and arrived back in England on the 9th of May. The company remained on in Cyprus for a number of years after Frankenberg's posting home.

Although his service records are not precise on this point, it appears that on his return to England Frankenberg was selected as a Probationer for the Supernumerary Staff of the Royal Engineers. His education, conduct and performance of his duties while on Cyprus probably had much to do with his selection for this rather prestigious assignment.

On the 3rd of December 1884 Frankenberg, who was by that time a Sergeant Engineer Clerk on the Supernumerary Staff, extended his service to complete 12 years with the Colours [12]. On the 19th of September 1885 he departed England for Malta where he was posted to a position on the Staff of the Commander Royal Engineers (C.R.E.).

Frankenberg's time at Malta was both professionally and personally rewarding. He received two promotions while he was there, was married, and had two sons born to his wife Jane. He also re-engaged at Malta to complete 21 years of service with the Colours on the 12th of December 1888 [13].

Quartermaster Sergeant Frankenberg and his family left Malta in early January of 1891 for the United Kingdom. He was posted with his family to Dublin, Ireland where he arrived on the 22nd of January 1891. In all likelihood he served on the staff of the Commander Royal Engineers in the Dublin District or on the staff of one of the Dublin Sub-Districts while he was there. The Frankenbergs remained in Ireland for just a little over four years. On the 11th of March 1895 he departed with his wife, and now three children, for Bermuda where he was posted to the office of the Commander Royal Engineers, Bermuda. While in Bermuda, his career was again professional and personally rewarding. He received his final promotion to Superintending Clerk, Jane gave birth to a daughter and a son, and Frankenberg was approved for retention in the Army beyond 21 years [14].

When his tour of duty in Bermuda was completed, Superintending Clerk Frankenberg and his family returned home, arriving in England on the 2nd of December 1901. He was again posted to the office of the C.R.E., Dublin District in Ireland. Since he had now served beyond 21 years with the Colours, it was necessary for his commander to request each year that he be extended in service for an additional year. The willingness of his commander to continually request these extensions is a testimony to Frankenberg's efficiency in his work. On the 16th of January 1902 the C.R.E. Dublin District requested that Frankenberg be extended in service for an additional year. On the 17th of January 1903 the C.R.E. Dublin District 2 made a similar request and on the 17th of January 1904 the C.R.E. Dublin Sub-District repeated the request. In each case the request was granted.

Superintending Clerk Frankenberg was granted Service Pay, Class I at the rate of 7d per day on the 1st of April 1904 as further testimony to his proficiency in his military duties. This Service Pay was granted to him while he was serving in the office of the C.R.E. Dublin Sub-District.

Frankenberg's indispensability to the C.R.E. in Dublin continued on the 18th of January 1905 and again on the 18th of January 1906 when he was granted approval for further retention in service that would carry him to January 1907. In both cases he was serving in the office of Lieutenant Colonel Louis C. Jackson, the C.R.E. of the Dublin Sub-District, at the Headquarters Office in Dublin. During these final two years of his service, Frankenberg served as the Superintending Clerk for financial matters for the Dublin Sub-District. In addition to his efficiency as a senior Warrant Officer, his honesty must have been considered to be above reproach, as he was probably responsible for accurate record keeping concerning considerably large amounts of money.

On the 5th of January 1907, as he was approaching the anniversary of his 30th year in service, Frankenberg began processing for his discharge. On that date his discharge documents were completed and approved by the C.R.E. of the Dublin Sub-District. It is not known whether his discharge was at his request or whether it was mandatory since he had served for 30 years with the Colours.


a. Promotions: Rudolph Frankenberg received the promotions shown in the table below during his time in service.

Date of Promotion or Appointment

Rank or Position

10 January 1877

Sapper (upon enlistment)

1 July 1881

Appointed Paid Lance Corporal

2 February 1882

Reverted to the rank of Sapper

24 May 1883

Promoted Sergeant Engineer Clerk

1 May 1887

Promoted Company Sergeant Major Engineer Clerk

29 May 1890

Promoted Quartermaster Sergeant Engineer Clerk

1 September 1896

Promoted Superintending Clerk

Rudolph Frankenberg's rapid rise from Sapper to Sergeant in less than a year can be explained by the fact that he was appointed to the Supernumerary Staff of the Royal Engineers. There were two groups of Warrant Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers in the Royal Engineers that assisted the Officers in many ways. One of these groups was called the Regimental Staff and the other came under the general name of Supernumerary Staff.

The Supernumerary Staff included several distinct classes. One of the first to be formed, which dates from about 1870, was that of Engineer Clerks and Draughtsmen. This group developed in several ways until there were Engineer Clerks for duty at the War Office, for Regimental work at the depots, Engineer Clerks and Draughtsmen for Engineer services and for what was called Regular and Militia duties at the headquarters of the units of Engineer Militia.

Engineer Clerks and Draughtsmen were appointed from men of good education in the ranks of the Corps and, after a period of probation, they were appointed Sergeants on the Supernumerary Staff, R.E. They were promoted to the rank of Company Sergeant Major after three years' service as Clerks and to Quartermaster Sergeant after six years, and then by selection to fill vacancies on an establishment of Sergeant-Major Clerks.

There was a special list for the probationers, who were termed Temporary Engineer Clerks and Draughtsmen and, if not of higher rank, were appointed Lance Corporals. They were excused all Regimental duties and were, for all practical purposes, part of the permanent staff. In 1907 this class of temporary clerks was abolished and the work was done by N.C.Os. or Sappers drawn as required from the R.E. units at the station; at the same time 'Clerk' was included among the authorized trades [15].

b. Conduct: Rudolph Frankenberg received the following Good Conduct Badges during his time in service:

Date of Award

Good Conduct Badge

10 January 1879

Awarded Good Conduct Pay at the rate of 1d per day.

10 January 1883

Awarded Good Conduct Pay at the rate of 2d per day.

10 January 1889

Awarded Good Conduct Pay at the rate of 3d per day.

10 January 1893

Awarded Good Conduct Pay at the rate of 4d per day.

It should be noted that Non-Commissioned Officers did not normally receive Good Conduct Pay after promotion to the rank of Sergeant. Frankenberg was promoted to the rank of Sergeant Engineer Clerk on the Supernumerary Staff on the 24th of May 1883. He continued to receive Good Conduct Pay twice after that promotion. It appears that men serving on the Supernumerary Staff were exempted from the restrictions of receiving Good Conduct Pay after the rank of Sergeant.

On the 9th of January 1895 Quartermaster Sergeant Engineer Clerk Rudolph Frankenberg completed 18 years of service with the Colours and would have been entitled to the award of the Long Service and Good Conduct medal. The Medals, Decorations and Annuities section of his Military History Sheet is blank, showing no indication that he was awarded the medal. It is uncertain whether as a member of the Supernumerary Staff he was not awarded the medal, or whether the omission of the entry in his service papers is simply an error.

The only blemish on Frankenberg's military record occurred on the 25th of January 1901 when he was suspended from his rank and pay for a period of 7 days by a District Court Martial. There is no indication in his record as to the reason for his court martial.

A District Court Martial was intended to adjudge more serious charges, and was convoked by the commander of a brigade or military district. The president of the court martial had to be, if possible, a field grade officer and the members, four or at least two, had to be officers from different corps, and must have served at least two years as such. The District Court Martial was authorized to sentence the accused soldier to imprisonment with or without hard labour for a period not exceeding two years, or could inflict lighter punishments. Expulsion from the service also could be decreed. The sentence of the court martial had to be confirmed by the commander of the district or brigade. In Frankenberg's case his offence must have been a fairly serious one for it to be referred to a District Court Martial. However, after being adjudged guilty of the offence, his punishment was a fairly light one, probably because of his past good conduct and his value to the Corps as a skilled and educated Superintending Clerk. At the time of his discharge in 1907, Frankenberg's conduct was rated as "Very Good", so it does not appear that this court martial had a lasting effect on his record.


a. Education: Rudolph Frankenberg earned the following Certificates of Education during his time in service [16]:


Certificate of Education


Second Class Certificate of Education

29 October 1895

First Class Certificate of Education

The Certificates of Education section of Frankenberg's Military History Sheet shows that he was in possession of a Second Class Certificate of Education without showing the date on which the certificate was earned. It is likely that he passed the examination for the Second Class Certificate of Education at the time that he enlisted in the Army. This higher level of education as a recruit probably earmarked him for selection to the Supernumerary Staff as previously indicated.

b. Qualifications: Rudolph Frankenberg's most significant qualification was his appointment to the Supernumerary Staff, Royal Engineers during his entire time in service. For a period of 10 years and 4 months as a Warrant Officer, he supervised financial and other administrative matters at the staff level of the Commander Royal Engineers at various stations to which he was assigned.


Documents pertaining to Rudolph Frankenberg's medical history were not included in his service papers obtained from the Public Record Office.


In 1881, while Frankenberg was in England, having just returned from Cyprus, his mother was working as a charwoman and was residing at 50 Sutherland Street in Hulme, Lancashire [17]. Hulme was a chapelry Parish of Manchester. Christant Frankenberg was 51 years of age at this time, a widow, and had three of her children still living with her. Her son Julius was 17 years old and working as a Provision Dealer Labourer. Her daughter Josephine was 14 year old and young Beatrice was 10. Presumably, both girls were students at the time, although only Beatrice is listed in the 1881 census as a "scholar." Josephine may not have been in school and may in fact have been working to help support the family. The household at 50 Sutherland Street also included Edward Deakin, age 25, a Chair Maker and the brother-in-law of Mrs. Frankenberg. Edward had married Rudolph's oldest sister Louisa, who was then 21 years of age and employed as a Small Ware Weaver. The Deakins had a daughter, Martha, who was one year old in 1881.

On the 30th of June 1877 Rudolph Frankenberg married Jane Parker at Malta, with leave [18]. The Frankenbergs had two sons while Rudolph was serving at Malta; Gerald, who was born on the 4th of November 1888 and Reginald, who was born on the 7th of December 1890. Their third child, Patricia, was born in Dublin on the 17th of March 1892. Their fourth and fifth children, Rhoda Janetta (born 22 October 1897) and Ronald Evelyn (born 29 October 1899) were both born in Bermuda.

Gerald Frankenberg followed his father into the Royal Engineers when he enlisted as a Sapper in June of 1906 while his father was serving as a Superintending Clerk in the office of the Commander Royal Engineers for the Dublin Sub-District in Ireland. Gerald was 18 years of age when he enlisted and later went on to serve in the Great War of 1914-1918. He was 26 years old when the war started. Rudolph Frankenberg's second son, Reginald, was 24 years old when the Great War broke out; however no evidence has turned up to indicate that he served during the war. It is probable that he did serve, unless he had some physical defect that would have precluded him joining the forces. The youngest Frankenberg boy, Ronald, would have only been 15 years old in October of 1914, but he would have been eligible for service in the Great War by October of 1917. Again, there is no evidence that he served in the war, but it is likely that he did join up given his family history. Neither Reginald nor Ronald is listed in Adler's British Jewry Book of Honour, although this is no guarantee that they did not serve. Like their father, they may have professed to be Christians when they enlisted; hence, they would not have been included in the book [19].


Superintending Clerk Rudolph Frankenberg was discharged from the Army at Dublin, Ireland on the 17th of January 1907 after more than 30 years of service with the Colours. His service qualified him for a pension. He had served two periods of limited engagement, one 4-year extension beyond 21 years and five one-year extensions. His total service was reckoned as shown in the tables below:


Period of Service


10 January 1877 to 11 July 1878


12 July 1878 to 8 May 1880


9 May 1880 to 18 September 1885


19 September 1885 to 21 January 1891


22 January 1891 to 10 March 1895


11 March 1895 to 1 December 1901


2 December 1901 to 17 January 1907


Period of Service

Home Service

16 years and 46 days

Service Abroad

13 years and 327 days

Total Service

30 years and 8 days

At the time of his discharge, Frankenberg's trade was listed as "Clerk." He had spent 10 years and 4 months as a Warrant Officer and during his last year of service he was charged with the important responsibility of keeping financial records for the Commander Royal Engineers in Dublin.

Frankenberg indicated that his intended place of residence after leaving the service would be Woolwich, although he did not give a specific address. His discharge papers indicated that he intended to notify the Royal Engineers Record Office of his actual address at a later date.


At the time that this research was completed, nothing specific was known about Rudolph Frankenberg's life after leaving the Army. When Frankenberg was discharged, his son Gerald was at Chatham undergoing recruit training in the Royal Engineers. Within a matter of seven years after his discharge, Rudolph Frankenberg would watch his first son march off to war. One can imagine his thoughts in 1915 when Gerald was sent off to join the 7th Field Company in France and Flanders. Gerald had only nine years of service at that time when his father watched him leave for active service abroad in one of the world's most horrendous wars in terms of total casualties suffered by both sides.

During Rudolph Frankenberg's more than 30 years in the Army, he did not see any active service, although there were plenty of campaigns fought in far-flung battlefields of the British Empire. In January of 1879, while Frankenberg was in Cyprus, the Zulu War started in South Africa and the British were involved in a war in Afghanistan. The campaign in Egypt in 1882 began after Frankenberg returned home from Cyprus; however, his assignment to the Supernumerary Staff of the Royal Engineers kept him from seeing action in that war. Frankenberg was serving at Malta when the campaigns in the Sudan were being fought during 1884 and 1885 and he was in Ireland and Bermuda during the many campaigns fought on the Northwest Frontier of India during the 1890s. He was still in Bermuda at the outbreak of the Boer War in 1899 and served there and in Ireland from 1900 to 1902 while the war in South Africa was raging. Between 1902 and 1907 when he was discharged, he served in Ireland and missed the campaigns fought in Tibet and in Natal. Rudolph Frankenberg missed every major and minor campaign involving troops of the Royal Engineers between his enlistment date of 1877 and his discharge date of 1907. His service papers indicate that he was not entitled to any campaign medals.

The fact that he saw no active service during more than 30 years with the Colours does not reflect negatively on his military career. The postings given him were those typical of the assignments made to men of the Supernumerary Staff who, because of their intelligence and higher educational levels, were considered to be or more value to the Corps in the types of staff assignments in which Frankenberg served. It is ironic, however, that his son Gerald would win the Military Medal for "bravery in the field" while he was serving in the Great War of 1914-1918. Rudolph Frankenberg must have felt a great deal of pride in his son's accomplishment.



1. ADLER, M. British Jewry Book of Honour. Caxton Publishing Company, Limited, London, 1922.

2. BAKER BROWN, W. The History of the Corps of Royal Engineers. Volume IV. The Institution of Royal Engineers, Chatham, Kent, 1952.

3. FARWELL, B. Mr. Kipling’s Army: All the Queen’s Men. W.W. Norton & Company, New York, 1981.

4. GRIERSON, J.M. Scarlet Into Khaki: The British Army on the Eve of the Boer War. Greenhill Books, London, 1988 (Reprint of the original 1899 text).

5. SKELLEY, A.R. The Victorian Army at Home: The Recruitment and Terms and Conditions of the British Regular, 1859-1899. McGill-Queen’s University Press, Montreal, 1977.

Computer Software

1. 1881 British Census and National Index. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, 1999.

2. Soldiers Died in the Great War. The Naval & Military Press Ltd., Heathfield, East Sussex, 1998.

3. Vital Records Index - British Isles. Family History Resource File, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, 1998.


Service Papers (WO97/4877) of 14060 Superintending Clerk Rudolph Frankenberg, R.E., including the following documents.

  1. Proceedings on Attestation (W.O. Form 498).
  2. Description of Soldier.
  3. Statement of Services.
  4. Military History Sheet.
  5. Proceedings on Discharge (Army Form B. 268).

Internet Sources

Public Record Office Family Search, 1881 British Census.


[1] The birth years of Rudolph Frankenberg's siblings are listed in the 1881 British Census returns. The census shows the family name as Frankenburg; however, Rudolph's mother's name and the Hulme address are sufficient evidence to prove that the census notation is simply a variation of the spelling of the name Frankenberg.

[2] 1881 British Census. Family History Library Film 1341939, Public Record Office Reference RG11, Piece 3931, Folio 38, page 16. Christant is an unusual name and appears to be of German origin. She may have been from a family that immigrated to England many years before her birth and was a British subject by birth.

[3] The 1881 British Census lists a total of 29 Frankenbergs living in the United Kingdom. The birthplaces given for the individuals include Germany (15), England (10), Sweden (1) and Poland (3). The 15 Frankenbergs born in England include Christant and three of her children.

[4] No such address can be found on modern maps of Manchester.

[5] ADLER, p. 226.

[6] As a note of interest, the famous British actress Jane Seymour's real is Joyce Penelope Wilhelmina Frankenberg. Her father, John Benjamin Frankenberg was a physician of Polish and German descent. Since Frankenberg is not that common a name in the United Kingdom, one wonders if Jane Seymour is not related in some way to Rudolph Frankenberg.

[7] Another notation is written in the Description on Attestation section of Frankenberg's service record regarding something unusual about his right testicle. The notation is illegible. This rather embarrassing notation is unusual to find in a soldier's service papers. Despite the size of his testicles, Rudolph Frankenberg was able to father five children. Potency rather than size seemed to be the deciding factor.

[8] No mention of testicle size when he was discharged. Medical officers were probably not inclined to make such notations regarding senior Warrant Officers with over 30 years of service.

[9] See Periods of Enlistment for the Corps of Royal Engineers.

[10] See Age and Physical Requirements for Soldiers in the British Army (Victorian Period).

[11] See Engineer Recruit Training.

[12] See Extensions of Service of the Regular Army.

[13] See Re-Engagement in the Regular Army.

[14] See Continuance with the Regular Army after 21 Years’ Service.

[15] Corps History, Volume IV, pp. 176-177.

[16] See Certificates of Education.

[17] 1881 British Census.

[18] See Marriage of Soldiers during the Victorian Period.

[19] Volumes I through VII of the National Roll of the Great War was checked with negative results for any other Frankenbergs who may have served.