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62397 Private Francis (Frank) Arthur Bullock –  24th (Auckland) Battalion

Francis (Frank) Arthur Bullock was born on the 22nd June 1916 in Liverpool, West Derby, England,  the eldest son of
Arthur and Harriet May Bullock.[i] He had five brothers and two sisters.

The family moved to New Zealand prior to 1924 as the eldest daughter, Lily, is listed as enrolling at Porirua School in 1924. Frank is also noted as attending the school as are a number of his siblings.[ii]

In November 1940 Frank was working a farmhand in Te Puke, he attended a medical examination in Tauranga and was passed as fit. Frank enlisted on the 21st November 1940 and entered the Papakura Military Camp on the 8th January 1941 as 62397 Private Francis Arthur Bullock, 5th Reinforcement 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force (2NZEF).[iii]

Following basic training the 5th Reinforcements left New Zealand on the 7th April 1941 for Egypt where they landed on
the 16th May 1941. Private Bullock was posted as reinforcements for D Company, 24th (Auckland) Infantry Battalion.

The 24th Battalion, refitted from the Greece Campaign, was held to defend the Suez Canal before moved up in September 1941 to support Operation Crusader, the relief of Tobruk.  On the 21st November 1941 the New Zealand Brigade, with the 24th Battalion leading the advance, moved towards Tobruk. There was initial success but counter attacks by Rommel’s Afrika Corp followed. On the 30th November 1941 in the 24th Battalion being overrun by German tanks with nearly 300 captured and another 100 killed or wounded.[iv]

Private Bullock was one of the few that evaded capture but spent the next month recovering in hospital. Later military papers indicated that he suffered a ‘severe shock in Lybia’ and was a bit ‘bomb happy and apt to wander.’

The 24th Battalion was reformed in Egypt by those who had been ‘Left out of Battle.’  escaped capture, had recovered
from injuries or were reinforcements from New Zealand.  In February 1942 the 24th Battalion and other elements of the
NZ Division, following the removal of the Vichy French Government, were moved to Syria. There were threats  of German attacks from the Caucasus through this area towards Middle East oil fields and the Suez Canal.

The 24th Battalion was stationed near to the Turkish Border, northwest of Aleppo. The Battalion carried out training as
well as holding defensive position on railway lines. However with the Afrika Korps attacks on the British 8th Army continuing the NZ Division was recalled to Egypt. Prior to the return the 24th Battalion consolidated in early June 1942
in Aleppo and the men were given some time for rest and recreation as the Battalion prepared to move. It was during this
R & R period of time that swimming parades were held.

On the 12th June 1942 Private Bullock was in one of these swimming
groups but at the end of the day he  missed  the return to barracks.
Later in the evening it was noted that he was missing and a search was
made for him at base and at the swimming hole.  Clothes  where were
found and identified as Private Bullocks, at this stage he was posted as
missing believed drowned. The following day, 13th June 1942,
NZ Engineers were requested to lower the water level at the river and
Private Bullocks body was found. The Battalion was due to leave on the
19th June 1942 so a Court of Enquiry was held on the 15th June 1942 at
the Saddle, Radjou Detachment, Aleppo  which concluded that Private
Bullock had died as a result of accidental drowning. while on duty.

Private Bullock was buried in the Aleppo War Cemetery, there are
three other New Zealanders buried in the cemetery.

As the cemetery is close to the centre of Aleppo and the scene of heavy
fighting in the present Syrian Civil War it is possible that the grave no
longer exists.

​Aleppo Cemetery - 62397 Private 

Francis (Frank) Arthur Bullock is remembered on the Porirua School
Honours Board and on the Porirua Roll of Honour.

References:
24th Battalion – Official Hstory of New Zealand in the Second World War
24th Battalion – Wikipedia
NZ Defence Archives Military Files: 62397 Private Francis Arthur Bullock 

Photos
Grave – NZ War Graves Project
Aleppo -  Syria 1940 : Huffington Post -

[i] NZ Defence Archives Military Files: 62397 Private Francis Arthur Bullock
[ii] Porirua School 75th Jubilee – Roll of Honour
[iii] NZ Defence Archives Military Files: 62397 Private Francis Arthur Bullock
[iv] Wikipedia 24th Battalion (New Zealand) – Sidi Rezegh
 
 
Aleppo - Syria  1940