Alfred Stanhope O'DWYER
Rank: 2nd Lieutenant
Date of Death: 29 July 1916
Age: 19
Cemetery: Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France

Stanhope O'Dwyer and Maud Tobias had married in 1896 in a civil ceremony registered at Chorlton on Medlock, Manchester. Five years later, when the national census was taken, they were living at the prestigious address of 111 Withington Road , Whalley Range. Stanhope owned a company which fitted out offices and banks. It provided them with the income to sustain all the trappings of a successful middle class lifestyle, including the employment of a live-in servant, Annie Parker. Alfred was aged three and had been born in Cheadle Hulme on 1 July 1897. .

Within a few years, the family was able to move to the even more fashionable area of Bramhall and took up residence at "Glencoin" on Bramhall Lane. They were active members of the parish church and Alfred would become a patrol leader of its Boy Scouts Troop. He was educated at Macclesfield and Manchester Grammar Schools and then a school at Sandbach. Whilst there, he gained a scholarship to Bangor University and went to study there with the intention of becoming ordained as a minister. He had joined the University's Officers Training Corps in 1915 and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant on 26 July 1915.

He is reported to have gone overseas on active service on 8 March 1916. And that is where a mystery starts.

Army battalions were required to maintain a war diary giving a brief summary of the day's activities. There was no fixed format and some diaries have copious entries whilst others may have only a line or two for each day. But what they tend to have in common is that officers are regularly mentioned by name. The 14th Warwicks' diary has been examined at the National Archives and, most unusually, there is no mention of Alfred joining the Battalion. Even more unusually, there is no mention of his death on 29 July. In fact, there is no mention of him at all.

Perhaps the oddest part is that diary records that, on the 29th, the Battalion moved to take up assembly positions at Longueval, for an attack the next day. The diary notes this was done "without a single casualty".

All available records indicate that Alfred's unit was definitely the 14th Battalion but the most likely explanation is that there was a recording error at the time and he was, in fact, attached to some other unknown unit. It is a mystery that will probably never be solved but, whatever actually happened to him, his body was not found and identified and he is commemorated on the nearby Memorial to the Missing.

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