Alfred was born in Kerridge, near Bollington, Cheshire. His birth was registered at Macclesfield between October and December 1886. By the time of the 1901 Census, he was living in Stockport and working as domestic gardener, aged 14. By the time of the Great War, he had married Francis and they lived, with their daughter, at 282 Buxton Road, Stockport.
For sometime, Samuel had earned his living working for Manchester Corporation driving one of its horse-drawn buses, but when he enlisted into the army in September 1914, he was working as a tram driver for Stockport Corporation.
After training, Alfred left for France, with the Battalion, on 26 September 1915. By early January 1916, the men had already gained several weeks experience in the front line. On the 3rd, they took over a section of trenches, relieving the 3rd Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment in the Ploegsteert sector. Ploegsteert (or “Plugstreet” as it was known to British troops) is some 12 kilometres south of the Belgian town of Ieper (then Ypres), near to the border with France.
Next day, the Battalion’s War Diary records that “Brigade Trench Mortars in conjunction with 110th Brigade Royal Field Artillery and Brigade Bombers, bombarded a section of the enemy’s trenches. Our trenches were thinned out for the occasion. Germans retaliated vigorously but no shells entered the Battalion’s trenches and no casualties occurred. Privates Rose, Blackhurst and A Knowles of “A” Company and Private Burgess, “B” Company, wounded by gunshots.”
Alfred and his three comrades had, presumably, been shot by a German sniper. They would have received emergency treatment from the Battalion’s own doctor and then been evacuated to a Casualty Clearing Station some way behind the front line. There, military surgeons would have operated on Alfred’s wounds and, once stabilised, he would have been further transferred to the full hospital facilities that were at Boulogne. His wounds must have been serious and, in the days before antibiotics, infection was a serious risk. He died a month later.