Alfred WHITEHORN
Rank: Private
Number: 25865
Unit: 9th Battalion Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)
Date of Death: 25 July 1916
Age: 20
Cemetery: Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France

Very little is known about Alfred's life. He was born in the Heaton Norris area between October and December 1895. After his death, the local newspaper published an "In Memoriam" notice from "the family, 111 Hall Street" and it mentioned that he had a brother.

Alfred volunteered for the army, originally joining the 8th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, His service number was 13079, which indicates his enlistment to have been in September 1914. His medal entitlement records are available, on-line, at the National Archives. These make no reference to the Cheshires, confirming that he did not see overseas service with the Regiment. His first overseas unit was the Army Cyclist Corps (service number  9502). The Corps undertook despatch rider duties and reconnaissance patrols, but also acted as standard infantry.

At some point, Alfred was transferred to the Cameronians. This was probably after a period of illness or recovery from wounds, when the regiment was more in need of replacement troops than his original unit.

It is possible that an error has occurred in official records concerning the date of Alfred's death. Regimental records indicate that he was killed in action and this is supported by the fact he has no known grave. However, on 25 July, the Battalion had been in billets away from the front line for two days and spent most of the 25th, going further to the rear by train. The Battalion's War Diary makes no reference to any casualties on that day.

It is, of course, possible, that an accident occurred which caused his death, but it is unusual that a death is not mentioned at all, particularly when away from the combat area.

The Battle of the Somme had opened on 1 July 1916 and, on the 13th, the Battalion took up positions near Longueval, ready for an attack at dawn the next morning. They attacked at 3.25am capturing their objectives. There were many wounded, but fatalities, at 35, were comparatively light. The next time there were any deaths was on the 18th, when the battalion was again in trenches near Longueval. The War Diary notes that they were "heavily shelled all day and night. Casualties heavy." Another 17 men were dead.

After this, the Battalion moved into reserve positions for baths, change of clothing and to re-organise and refit. It did not undertake any further combat duties until after Alfred was dead. As mentioned earlier, it is possible that he was actually killed on the 25th, but it seems unlikely. The truth cannot now be known.

   
           
   
     
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