Rank: Private
Number: 24349
Unit: 7th Battalion King’s Shropshire Light Infantry
Date of Death: 13 November 1916
Age: 26
Cemetery: Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France

Alfred had been born at Sale and, at the time of the 1901 Census, was living with his uncle at 461 Bury new Road, Kersal, Salford.

In the march quarter of 1914, Alfred married 19 year old Eva Reynolds in a civil ceremony at Altrincham. Eva originated from Timperley and it's thought they may have initially lived there. However around the time of his death, Eva and their young child were living at Gatley Road, Cheadle.

Alfred enlisted in April 1916 in Altrincham. He went on active service, probably joining the Battalion on 21 July, as part of a group of replacements for those killed during an attack on July 14. His first experience of major action will have been on 19 August when the Battalion successfully captured a German trench with minimal casualties. The next day, they were shelled by German artillery but there were no fatalities.

After this, the Battalion moved into reserve, for a period of rest and to undertake training. Between 4th and 12th November, specific training was carried out for its part in the forthcoming Battle of the Ancre. 7th KSLI was to assault the village of Serre, one of a series of fortified strongholds that had prevented the British advance on 1 July. Artillery had been shelling the German positions since 11th November with the intention of cutting the barbed wire.

Alfred was waiting for zero hour in the assembly trenches with his comrades in the Battalion's grenade section. Conditions were appalling. The mud was so deep that ration parties took four hours to cross 1000 yards.

The Regimental history describes the attack "Thick fog was spread on the ground and at zero hour (5.45am), the morning was as black as the darkest midnight. In the pitch darkness and through deep mud, it was difficult for the best-trained soldiers to keep direction and the troops all along 3rd Division front lost touch. The heavy state of the ground on the 8th Brigade front made it impossible for the tanks to operate and they were withdrawn from the attack. About 8am, as it began to get light, a thick fog made conditions no better; and at eleven, when the fog began to clear, it was found that all units had lost direction and were hopelessly mixed." Alfred was one of 53 soldiers of 7th KSLI to be killed in the attack. George Hogg was another. A further 150 were wounded.

(Original research for the Cheadle & Gatley War Memorials website)

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