Albert and two of his brothers, Frederick and Henry, were born in Greetland, near Halifax. They moved to Stockport with their parents, George and Charlotte, in the late 1890s and, when the 1901 Census was taken the family was living at 74 Hatherlow Street, Portwood. Another son, Samuel, was just four months old. A daughter, Ethel, would be born in about 1903.
Albert enlisted into the army on 28 August 1914 at Manchester leaving the family home, by then at 15 Tame Street. He was also leaving his job as a stringer with local tool making company, Craven Brothers, which had a factory at Vauxhall Works, Reddish. The next day, he travelled to Winchester to start his army training. Most enlistment papers were destroyed in a fire during World War 2, but Albert’s survived and can be viewed at the National Archives. They show him to have been 5’ 8” tall and weighing 132 pounds. Of slight build, he had a 34” chest which he could expand by a further 2 inches. The examining doctor noted that he had a scar on the bottom of his back and another on his right thigh. He was of a sallow complexion with hazel eyes and brown hair. Albert had recorded his religious denomination as Church of England.
On the 3 September, he was assigned to the newly formed 9th Battalion and started his proper training. He would find himself in trouble a couple of times whilst at Winchester. On 3 March 1915, there was a kit inspection and his was found to be dirty and untidy. He will have had plenty of time to clean it as he was confined to barracks for five days. He also went AWOL – absent without leave – on the 18/19 April and was fined a day’s pay.
On 21 May, the Battalion went overseas on active service. Within the month Albert would be dead.
On 19 June, Albert and his mates started a tour of duty in the front line near the Belgian village of Zillebeke, just on the outskirts of Ypres (now Ieper). They had probably completed a couple of tours prior to this since arriving on the Western Front. It would be a relatively quiet time although there was constant danger from enemy shelling and casualties were incurred on a daily basis. Whilst most casualties were wounded, there were deaths almost every day and these are recorded in the Battalion’s War Diary (although the men are not named).
The Diary entry for the 24th June records that the number of men killed was “nil” and it is most probable that Albert was actually killed the previous day, when the deaths of four men were noted. The Diary notes that on this day, the trenches being held by “B” Company were heavily bombarded and as well as the deaths, over 20 men were injured.
After a man was killed, his personal effects would be sent to his family. It was never much but in Albert’s case, there was only a photograph.