Alfred originated from Wilmslow and was still living in the town at the time of the 1901 Census when he was recorded, aged 14, employed as a cotton bleach worker. By the time of the Great War, he had married Nellie and they were living at 32 Bangor Street, Reddish. He was working locally, still in the cotton industry, for the Reddish Vale Print Works. This company was a member of the Calico Printers Association and Alfred's name is included in the Association's entry in the Manchester Battalions Book of Honour (page 781).
Alfred's service number indicates he enlisted into the army in September 1914 and, almost certainly, went on active service when the Battalion went overseas on 25 September 1915.
Throughout the summer of 1916, the Battalion had been in the heart of the Somme battlefield. The Battle had opened on 1 July and Cheshires had seen major action two weeks later. On 23 August, Thomas and his comrades moved from positions near Aveluy Wood to dugouts at The Bluff near the village of Authuile. Unusually, no daily account was maintained in the Battalion's War Diary, but the Commanding Officer, Major W R Evans, made the following report of the tour of duty, which lasted until 28 August-
"A portion of the new British line had to be garrisoned - a no easy matter, as this trench was no more than series of shell holes which had its formation altered entirely daily by the heavy shelling of the Germans. The fatigues and working parties too were extremely exacting - and the spirit and stamina of the men was put to the test. New trenches had to be dug and stores had to be carried. The weather was unkind and added greatly to the discomfort of the men as well as making all work trebly difficult. Under these conditions, one learns how hard it is to carry bombs through two feet of mud; how hard it is to get the mud from a shovel and all under a heavy shelling which daily obliterated the trenches dug. The time of casualties had again arrived but signs of the old pluck and endurance of the 11th Cheshires were not wanting."
Of the four soldiers killed during this tour, three were Stockport - Alfred, Thomas Bardsley and George Wild. Later, his platoon sergeant wrote to Nellie "...was killed instantly by a shell which exploded a few yards away. I was only a yard away from him and he died without a word. I, along with some of his chums, saw him buried in a British Cemetery just behind the lines. Alfred was a personal friend of mine as, as an NCO and private, he was one of the very best; always reliable, willing; the most cheerful member of the platoon and at all times had a cheery smile or word."
By the early 1920s, when the War Graves Commission collated its casualty information, Nellie had moved to 28 Ann Street, Reddish.