(L to R) British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal
Albert was born on the 20th February 1890 in Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire. His father was called Edmund Ethelbert and his mother was Mary Ann. He had an older brother called Ernest, and 6 younger siblings: Lizzie, Edmund Ethelbert, Rossetta, Alice, Harold and John Henry.
In 1891 Edmund senior worked as a carter and the family lived at 59 Hope Street in Hurst, Ashton. Ten years later they had moved across the road to number 60. Edmund did not list a job in this census, but Mary worked as a winder in a cotton mill, and Ernest was a piecer in the same industry.
In 1911 Edmund was listed as an 'invalid, bad leg'. This could be why he did not give a job 10 years earlier. The family still lived at number 60, and now Albert, Lizzie, Edmund and Rosetta had joined their mother in the cotton industry. Albert was a spinner. Ernest had died between 1901 and 1911, although we don't know exactly when.
On the 25th February 1914 Albert married Eliza Ann Morrey at Christ's Church in Ashton. Their only daughter, Elsie Lena, was born soon afterwards on the 10th March. The family made their home at 22 Jermyn Street in Ashton. Albert now worked as a beam carrier, we believe at a cotton mill. They were living here when the First World War broke out that August.
Albert joined the Army on the 10th December 1915. Conscription would be introduced at the end of the year, but Albert enlisted under the Derby Scheme, where he volunteered and could choose the unit he joined, but was then assigned to the Army Reserve and returned home. He would then be called into service when he was needed. He chose the Manchester Regiment.
When he enlisted Albert was 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighed 133 pounds. He was generally fit, but he was a little short-sighted. His visual acuity was 6/24, or 20/80. We don't know whether he needed to wear glasses. He had a 'fair' complexion with brown eyes and hair.
Albert was called up on the 7th April 1916 and assigned to the 25th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. This was a training unit based at Southport, Lancashire until May 1916, when it moved to Altcar near Liverpool. He was given the service number 35328.
After his training Albert joined the 3rd Battalion at Cleethorpes in Lincolnshire. He arrived on the 29th August and would stay there for just over a month. He was waiting to be assigned to a unit overseas. On the 11th October he was sent to Devonport near Plymouth and boarded a ship. This would take him to Mesopotamia, now called Iraq, and the 1st Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. He arrived in Basra on the 17th November and joined the battalion in early December. He became a member of Number 2 Company.
In early January 1917 the British began an offensive against the Turks. Albert will have taken part in the Battle of the Khadairi Bend near Kut-al-Amara on the 9th, and then joined the British advance north. They had reached Baghdad by the 14th March. The city had been captured 3 days earlier so the battalion moved north east past Diyala and by the 23rd they had reached the Jebel Hamrin near the modern border with Iran.
During fighting in this area on the 25th March Albert was wounded. He was shot in the left buttock, near the gluteal fold. This caused damage to the muscles and nerves in his legs and lower back. We believe he had also been hit by shrapnel. Albert was first treated at the 8th British Field Ambulance and then moved to the 3rd British General Hospital in Basra for more advanced treatment. He did not recover enough to rejoin his unit so on the 26th April he was sent to India for more treatment. He sailed aboard the hospital ship Madras.
By the 23rd June Albert was at Cumballa War Hospital in what was then Bombay and is now Mumbai. We don't know if he was treated anywhere else in India. He returned to the UK aboard the Araguaya on or around the 11th August. He was back in the UK by the 3rd September.
We don't know much about Albert's movements after this. In June 1918 he was assessed at the 2nd Western General Hospital in Manchester. His wound had damaged the sciatic nerve in his left leg, so he walked with a limp.
The war ended that November and on the 22nd March 1919 Albert was assessed again. He was still not fully recovered so on the 11th April he was discharged from the Army as 'no longer physically fit for war service'. He was awarded a Silver War Badge with serial number B299752 to show that his discharge was honourable. Albert returned to Eliza and Elsie at 2 Seel Street in Hurst Nook, Ashton.
In early September 1919 Albert had not received his Silver War Badge. He wrote to the War Office asking them 'as a discharged and disabled soldier to forward onto me a Rendered Service Badge as you have not sent yet. It is not nice when people ask you have you been hurt at work...I have nothing to put in a Coat Collar or anything to show how I became a cripple.' Albert received his badge on or around the 12th October.
As well as his badge, Albert was awarded a pension. He was classed as 70% disabled so he received 19 shillings and 3 pence (19/3) from the 12th April, although this was reduced to 13/- at some point. The amount he received would be reassessed in 6 months. Albert also received a bonus of 4/8 from the 28th April, although this was reduced to 3/4 at some point.
We don't know how long Albert continued to receive a pension, or anything about the rest of his life. He died in Ashton between January and March 1971. He was 81 years old. Eliza died just over 4 years later, also aged 81. By a curious coincidence Elsie also died aged 81, in March 1995. Albert's medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment that June.