Alfred John HOULT
Rank: Major
Unit: 181st Heavy Battery ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY
Date of Death: 2 November 1918
Age: 24
Cemetery: Haifa War Cemetery, Israel

He was born on 19 July 1894, the son of Arthur and Margaret Hoult of Highfield House, Stanley Road, Hartshill, Stoke-on-Trent. He enlisted in the Royal Garrison Artillery on 17 August 1914 as a gunner (private), quickly being promoted and, in late 1914, was selected to become an officer.

He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant on 2 February 1915 and saw action in France. In May 1916, he was promoted to Acting Captain and given command of 404 Trench Mortar Battery but was injured in the ankle in July. After treatment in France, he was evacuated to England on 27 July. In the August, he was promoted to the substantive rank of Lieutenant.

Recovered from his injuries, he was assigned to 181st Heavy Battery and left to go back to the front, this time in Salonika. The Battery arrived in Greece on 15 January 1917. It remained there until the early autumn when it moved to take part in the campaign in Palestine. Alfred was given command of his Battery in early 1918. On 22 October, he was admitted to 33rd Clearing Hospital in Haifa suffering with pneumonia. He died there at 3.45am on 2 November, possibly a victim of the flu epidemic that was widespread in late 1918.

He was still officially an Acting Captain when he died. His further temporary promotion to Major was not confirmed until two months after his death.

Alfred is believed to be remembered on the memorial by his aunt, Mrs A Roberts of Gentworth (or Glentworth), Cheadle Hulme. In November 1918, his father was living in Stoke on Trent but, by January 1919, his mother, Margaret, received a letter from the War Office at the Cheadle Hulme address.

(Original research by John Hartley for the Cheadle & Gatley War Memorials website)

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