(L to R) 1914-15 Star; British War Medal
Alfred was born between April and June 1886 in Birmingham. His father was called William and his mother was Mary Ann. He had 2 older brothers, Henry and Edward, and one other brother called Arthur who seems to have been the same age as him.
By the time the 1901 Census was taken the family left Birmingham and moved to Manchester. They lived at 46 Palmerston Street in the All Soul's area of the city. William worked as a confectioner and baker. Alfred was not with the family the night the Census was taken, although we don't know whether this was a permanent arrangement.
By 1908 Alfred worked as a warehouseman. On the 7th March he married Mary Jane Hall at St Thomas' Parish Church in Ardwick, Manchester. William had died by this time. They made their home together at 11 Robinson Street in Ardwick, where Mary's family lived.
Alfred and Mary had a daughter, Ada, in around October 1908. The 3 of them still lived at 11 Robinson Street in 1911, along with Mary's father John, mother Mary Ann and younger sister Ada. Alfred still worked as a warehouseman for a cotton goods warehouse.
He had also begun a military career. On the 26th February 1909 he joined the 8th (Ardwick) Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. This was a unit of the Territorial Force based near his home. As a Territorial Alfred kept his civilian home and job and trained as a soldier during evenings and weekends. When he enlisted he was 5 feet 5 inches tall and we believe he weighed 130 pounds. He was given the service number 752.
As well as training in the evenings and weekends, the 8th Battalion held an annual training camp, lasting around 2 weeks. We know Alfred attended the 1909, 1910 and 1911 camps, but not whether he was at any of the other 3 held before the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914.
When war broke out the 8th Battalion was called into service. It was sent overseas on the 10th September and arrived in Alexandria, Egypt, on the 25th.
After less than a month in Egypt, on the 19th October, Alfred and the 8th Battalion were sent to Cyprus. This was a Turkish colony administered by Britain. As Britain and Turkey were now at war Alfred took part in the British annexation of the island.
During December Alfred contracted malaria. Around a month later he fell from his horse. This left him with wounds on his left shoulder and thigh, and 'nervous shock'. He needed 2 weeks of recovery before he could return to duty.
The 8th Battalion returned to Egypt on the 23rd January 1915. Alfred's service record tells us that he was sent to 'India' on the 18th. This suggests he needed more advanced medical treatment. His condition worsened during the spring of 1915, and he was suffering from 'nervousness' and had tremors in his hands. His doctors later diagnosed him with Grave's Disease, which affects the thyroid gland.
Alfred did not recover, and he was returned to the UK in late June. After a medical assessment at Number 2 Western General Hospital in Manchester on the 23rd July, he was assessed as being unfit for any kind of military service. He was discharged as 'no longer physically fit for war service' on the 19th September. Alfred was awarded a Silver War Badge, serial number 96856, to show that his discharge was honourable.
That November Alfred was assessed again. He was still suffering from an enlarged thyroid gland and a tremor in his hands. He also had 'palpitations', 'nervousness' and 'shortness of breath'. His pulse was 120 beats per minute. His doctors felt it was 'impossible to give a definite answer' about whether his condition would be permanent.
The rest of Alfred's life remains a mystery. We don't know whether he and Mary had any more children, or whether he ever fully recovered. By the mid 1950s they had moved to 300 Low Lane in Horsforth near Leeds in West Yorkshire.
Alfred died in St James' Hospital in Leeds on the 10th April 1957. He was 70 years old. Mary died between October and December 1961. She was 74.
As well as his 1914-15 Star and British War Medal, Alfred was also awarded the Allied Victory Medal for his Army service.