Alfred James FLOWER
Rank: Private
Number: 3938
Unit: 1/5th Battalion SOUTH LANCASHIRE REGIMENT
Date of Death: 31 July 1917
Age: 42
Cemetery: Aeroplane Cemetery, Ieper, Belgium

Alfred was born in Bermondsey, London the eldest child of Alfred and Louisa (nee Alston). They had married at Southwark in 1874 and Alfred was born in the late summer of 1875, followed by Henry and Alice. The family had moved to the Stockport area early 1880s, as his youngest brother and ssister - George and Lousia were born in the town.

When the 1901 Census was taken, the family was living at 77 Brinksway and, later, Alfred's address was 57 Freemantle Street. Alfreed worked as a doubler in a cotton mill until he enlisted into the army, probably in 1915. In his spare time, he was a teacher at Brinksway Sunday School.

Alfred would be killed on the first day of the Third Battle of Ypres (often called Passchendaele).

On 30 July, the Battalion moved into assembly positions astride the village of Wiltje (to the north of Ypres). The plan was that the leading battalions would assault and capture the German front line. The South Lancashires and other battalions would then "leapfrog" them and move on to capture the second trenches known as the Stutzpunkt Line. 

At 3.50am on 31 July, the British artillery bombardment opened and the leading Battalions "went over the top", taking their objective with relative ease. At 5.05, James and his mates moved forward on schedule. As they advanced past the captured German front line, there was heavy machine gun fire from Square Farm which held up one of the advancing battalions. Again the second line was taken with comparatively few casualties. As they pressed on to the next objectives, they experienced strong opposition from three positions - Capricorn Trench, Pond Farm and Spree Farm. Capricorn Trench was taken at about 10am and further advances were made, but  the German troops still occupied Spree Farm and Pond Farm and there was accurate rifle fire coming from these positions, which prevented the captured trenches being consolidated. Other units captured the third and final objective and during the afternoon, Pond and Spree Farms were taken, securing the sector.

31 men were reported to have been killed. Another 11 were missing. In comparison with many other Battalions across the battlefield, the South Lancashires' casualties were low (for example 46 men from Stockport had been killed whilst with the 6th Cheshires). Amongst the Lancashires' dead was another local man, James Hayes.

Alfred is probably the A J Flower also commemorated, wrongly, as serving with the Cheshire Regiment.

   
           
   
     
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