Alfred has been born in the Rusholme area of Manchester, the son of Thomas and Ellen. Thomas worked as a Superintendent for Manchester Corporation. As a young man, Alfred had joined the army as a regular soldier with the Artillery. By 1914, he had completed his term and returned to the local area where, on 14 February, he got married. His fiancée was Ellen Rotherey, a woman some seven years older than he was and their service was at St Mary’s Church, Heaton Reddish. It’s probable that Alfred had only recently left the army as his occupation was given as “reservist”. They had both given their address as 49 Greg Street, Reddish and this was possibly Ellen’s family home.
In those days, a man would sign on for several years but some of these would be on the reserve ready to be recalled if there was ever a need. He probably never expected that it would happen, much less than it would happen only a few months later, on 4 August, when he was summoned back to duty at Aldershot.
The first British engagement of the War was on 23 August 1914 at Mons, and Alfred will have been there, now with the “acting” rank of Bombardier (the Artillery equivalent of a Corporal). With the rest of the British Army, he will have retreated over many miles under the relentless pressure from the Germans until the tide started to turn in mid-September.
By the end of October, Alfred and his comrades were near the Belgian town of Ypres and engaged in fierce fighting around the village of Gheluvelt on its outskirts. A strong German attack, on the 31st, broke through the line held by the British 1st Division (of which Alfred’s unit was a part) and the troops were forced to withdraw. The next day, the Division rallied and launched a successful counterattack and, over the following two days, they managed to push the Germans still further back. Throughout this time, the artillery was firing in support of the infantry attacks, targeting in particular, concentrations of Germans, breaking them up as they tried to form up into attacking units. Some time during these three days, Alfred was badly wounded and was evacuated to a field hospital (Casualty Clearing Station) at Poperinghe, several miles behind the front line. There military surgeons will have done all they could to save his life, but without success.
In the early 1920s, when the War Graves Commission collated its casualty information, Ellen had moved to 7 Hartley Street, Edgeley.