Alfred SUTTON
Rank: Private
Number: 47215
Unit: B Company, 17th Battalion MANCHESTER REGIMENT
Date of Death: 23 April 1917
Age: 20
Cemetery: Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais, France

Alfred was the second child and eldest son of George and Margaret Sutton of Stone Row, Marple. The 1901 Census records that 45 year old George worked as a carter for a contractor. He is believed to have died in 1913.

Alfred worked as clerk at the nearby Holllins Mill. The Company also had offices at 5 Portland Street, Manchester and Alfred travelled into the city to enlist. His service number confirms he was not an early volunteer. A local newspaper indicated that he had joijned in October 1915 but the service number suggests it could have been even later.

The Battalion's official War Diary carries scant details of the day that Alfred was killed and the Battalion history, written in the 1920s, has little to add. The British offensive which was later designated as the Battle of Arras had started with some success on 9 April. The attacks on the 23/24th would be classed as the Second Battle of the Scarpe (after the nearby river.)

The 17th Manchesters arrived in the area on the 18th and took over a section of hurriedly dug front line trenches on the 20th. They were near the village of Heninel and faced the Germans entrenched across No Man's Land at Cherisy.

Zero hour was set for 4.45am on the 23rd and the men attacked on schedule. The attack was met with extremely heavy machine gun fire and artillery barrage. The machine guns had been placed in strong concrete shelters, which had withstood the British "softening up" bombardment. The Manchesters were unable to reach the enemy trench but dug themselves in at what was described as an "advanced position" in No Man's Land. The Battalion History records that, at 9am, "the enemy launched a counter-attack of great violence which, owing to the gallantry of the defenders, was repulsed and the position maintained. At 2pm, a further enemy attack was made and the Battalion suffered many casualties. At nightfall, it was withdrawn with a strength of 260 men out of 650 who went over the top."  

His officer, 2nd Lieutenant Budenbery, also from Marple, wrote to Alfred's mother saying that he had been posted as missing after the attack. He didn't known if Alfed was dead or had been taken prisoner. It would be some time before the War Office made the official announcement that he was presumed to have been killed. Another local man, amongst the 84 dead, was Joseph Farrell.

Further information about Alfred, including a photograph, can be found in the book "Remembered" by P Clarke, A Cook and J Bintliff.

   
           
   
     
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