Peaky Blinders

Dorsetshire Regiment World War I Private found to be member of the Peaky Blinders

RESEARCH has revealed a soldier serving in the Dorsetshire Regiment during the First World War was convicted of attempted murder and a member of the ‘Peaky Blinders’ gang.

Fascinating studies conducted at The Keep Military Museum in Dorchester has uncovered the life of Private Frank Cherry of the 1st Battalion of the Dorsetshire Regiment. Amazingly, it was a military medal he won that revealed his violent and criminal history – and his connections to one of the most notorious gangs of the 20th century.

By the time Frank – who was born in Balsall Heath, Birmingham in 1882 – was 19, he and his brother David were ‘mixed up in a world of violent and organised crime’ and come 1902 the brothers were sentenced to life in prison for the attempted murder of a policeman.

Bournemouth Echo: Studies at The Keep Military Museum have uncovered a former Dorsetshire Private's connections to the Peaky BlindersStudies at The Keep Military Museum have uncovered a former Dorsetshire Private’s connections to the Peaky Blinders

The Birmingham Gazette reported on the grisly case, revealing that it was Frank’s brother David who dealt the near fatal blows, but that Frank struck the officer with a “slinging blow”, subsequently leading to him being found guilty of aiding and abetting.

News articles and a number of newspapers were referring to Frank and his brother as “men of the peaky type” and “two Birmingham ‘peakies’” – though hard to officially confirm, his crimes and circumstances place him in the midst of the infamous gang, The Peaky Blinders, who were made more famous thanks to the BBC show starring Cillian Murphy which is based on the real-life gang.

Bournemouth Echo: The notorious Peaky Blinders from the hit BBC showThe notorious Peaky Blinders from the hit BBC show

The Keep Military Museum has shared how Frank Cherry was then sent to serve his prison sentence on Portland but ended up serving with the Dorsetshire Regiment in the First World War after being released from prison, most likely in 1917.

Frank then went on to win a medal before dying from wounds on June 14, 1918 at No.3 Stationary Hospital in Rouen.

Museum director Elliot Metcalfe said: “We were amazed to discover the story of Frank Cherry and it was quite a shock to find a Peaky Blinder in the ranks of the county regiment of Dorset. His story from gang member to gallantry medal winner is quite remarkable and an important piece of our history.”

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