(L to R) Military Medal; 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal
Alfred was born in January 1883. His father's name was Angus and his mother was Elizabeth. He had three older siblings; Peter, Elizabeth and George. In 1891 the family were living at 29 Beech Street in Cheetham, Manchester and Angus was a joiner. By 1901 the family had moved to 31 Cedar Street in Cheetham, and Alfred had begun work as a clerk for a Municipal Corporation, although we don't know which one.
Between October and December 1905, in Prestwich, Manchester Alfred got married. We don't know his wife's name. The marriage seems to have been troubled though, because in 1911 Alfred was living with his parents again. By 1914 they were 'separated by a judicial order'.
Alfred and his parents lived at 13 Edna Street in Higher Crumpsall, Manchester. At this time Alfred was a payment collector for a bicycle seller.
Alfred spent some time as a member of the 'Manchester Artillery Volunteers'. We don't know when he served in this unit, but when Alfred enlisted in 1914 this was the name he gave it. This suggests he had served before 1908, as in this year the Volunteers were renamed the Territorial Force.
When the First World War broke out in August 1914 Alfred was one of thousands of Manchester men who joined the Army to serve together. Alfred left his job as a clerk and enlisted on the 17th November 1914 into the 20th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. He was given the service number 17813.
Alfred's service record has survived, so we know that when he enlisted he was 5 feet 10 3/4 inches tall and weighed 177 pounds. He had a chest measurement of 41 inches.
Regardless of when Alfred had served as a Volunteer, he had more military experience that most of the new recruits in the 20th Battalion. This explains why he was promoted to Corporal on the same day he enlisted, and was promoted again to Sergeant Cook on the 5th March 1915. This made him responsible for ensuring the Battalion had enough food, and that it was cooked to the proper standards. He was also the Platoon Sergeant of XIV Platoon in D Company.
After almost exactly a year in the Army Alfred and the 20th Battalion were sent to France on the 8th November 1915. Alfred stayed with them throughout the war. He will have taken part in the Battle of the Somme, fought between July and November 1916. On the 5th October 1916 he is recorded as 'serving with Battalion', although we have no evidence to suggest he had ever left it.
On the 6th January 1917 Alfred was wounded in action. His wound cannot have been too serious, as he is recorded as 'remaining at duty' with the 20th Battalion.
Being wounded did not affect Alfred's fighting spirit. In the London Gazette of the 12th March 1917 he was awarded the Military Medal. The details of what Alfred did have not survived, but he almost certainly had earned the medal during January.
Later that year Alfred was able to take some leave, between the 15th and the 26th of August. We don't know whether he was able to return to the UK during this time.
The 20th Battalion was one of the British units moved to Italy in November 1917 to help them in their fight against Austria Hungary. We don't know what Alfred did during his time on the Italian Front, but he was still serving with D Company on the 28th April when a Battalion Roll was taken. He returned to France with the 20th Battalion in September 1918.
At the end of the war Alfred was again able to go on leave, between the 16th November and the 2nd December 1918. We know that this time he returned to the UK.
Alfred's time in the Army was almost over. He returned to the UK for the final time, setting sail from Dieppe on the 26th February 1919. He was transferred to the Class Z Army Reserve on the 1st of March. This meant he could have been called back to the Army if the Armistice with Germany had broken down; but it never did.
The rest of Alfred's life is a mystery. He died in Blackpool between January and March 1952 at the age of 68.