Photograph of Alfred in Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre. Reference: MR1/23/31
(L to R) Queen's South Africa Medal with clasps 'Cape Colony', 'Orange Free State', 'Transvaal', 'South Africa 1901'; Africa General Service Medal with clasp 'Somaliland 1908-10'; 1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Allied Victory Medal
Alfred was born on the 25th May 1879 in Wellington, New Zealand. His father was called Henry, but we don't know anything else about his family or early life.
By 1900 Alfred lived on Watson Street in Wellington. He worked as a clerk. By this time the Boer War was being fought in South Africa between British and Boer forces. Britain ruled New Zealand at the time, and there were close cultural and family ties between the two nations. This meant that New Zealand considered itself at war too.
The war was wildly popular in New Zealand, and many men tried to join the Army. Alfred was one of them. He volunteered 'to serve with Imperial troops in South Africa' on the 25th January 1901. He was already a member of a unit called the College Rifles, based in Wellington. This seems to have been a Volunteer unit manned by former students of Wellington College.
Alfred was 5 feet 10 1/2 inches tall and weighed 168 pounds when he enlisted. At the time his father lived in London and he lived with a 'W. H. Rose' on Watson Street. We don't know who this was.
Alfred formed part of the Wellington Section of the 17th Company of the 6th Contingent of New Zealanders sent to South Africa. The contingent was made up of 27 officers and 551 men. He was commissioned as a Lieutenant on the 26th January and set sail 4 days later. Alfred arrived in South Africa on the 15th March.
The New Zealanders served as Mounted Infantry. This meant they rode horses to quickly cover large distances, but, unlike cavalry, dismounted and fought on foot with rifles. Alfred fought in the Transvaal area of South Africa between April and June, and then moved into the Orange River Colony (better known as the Orange Free State). He fought here during July, and then spent August and September in the Cape Colony.
The Boers did not stand and fight the British and Imperial forces; they fought in small groups as guerrillas, and tried to avoid large battles. The New Zealanders used their horses to cover ground and prevent the Boers avoiding battle. We don't know how much fighting Alfred actually saw.
On the 27th July 1901 Alfred transferred from the New Zealand Forces to the Manchester Regiment. He became a Second Lieutenant. After they returned to the UK he joined the 3rd Battalion in Aldershot, Hampshire.
During 1902 Alfred passed courses of instruction in musketry and signalling. Musketry meant he could now train his soldiers in rifle shooting, and signalling meant that he understood how to pass messages between different units. On the 22nd September the battalion left the UK and sailed to the island of St Helena.
Alfred spent 3 months on St Helena. He was promoted to Lieutenant on the 25th October, during his time there. The battalion then set sail for South Africa, arriving on the 31st December. The Boer War had ended just 7 months earlier, so the British were keeping large numbers of soldiers in the country. It is very likely that Alfred had helped guard Boer prisoners of war during his time in St Helena.
The 3rd Battalion was based in and around Middelburg in the Cape Colony (the modern Eastern Cape Province) for most of its time in South Africa. They moved to Middelburg in the Transvaal (now Mpumalanga Province) in January 1906. Alfred returned to the UK that November and was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, which was split between the Channel Islands of Alderney and Guernsey. The 3rd Battalion had been disbanded by the end of the month.
Home service must not have suited Alfred. On the 5th June 1907 he left the 2nd Battalion. He had been seconded to the Colonial Office, which was responsible for Britain's colonies outside of India. Alfred joined the Somaliland Militia, based in Somaliland, part of modern Somalia. Colonial units such as this were popular with officers because they offered a greater chance of seeing action, as well as a lower cost of living.
The Somaliland Militia was made up of native soldiers, with British Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers. Britain had very little interest in the territory, except for a long-running rebellion by the forces of Mohammed Abdullah Hassan, known to the British as 'the Mad Mullah'. His soldiers were nicknamed Dervishes.
We don't know much about Alfred's service in Somaliland. He was attached to the Militia until the 31st March 1908, when he transferred to the King's Africa Rifles. Alfred took command of a Company of this unit, and was given the local rank of Captain whilst he held this job.
We don't know which battalion of the KAR Alfred joined, but he continued to serve in Somaliland for around the next 2 years. We know that on one occasion he was leading a patrol when they were attacked by Dervishes. Alfred was 'very badly wounded' and 'lucky to escape with his life'.
Alfred returned to the Manchester Regiment in September 1910. We don't know whether he joined the 1st Battalion in India or the 2nd Battalion in the UK. He may have needed this time to recover from his injuries.
Either way, after 18 months Alfred left them again. He was again seconded to the Colonial Office. This time he joined the Militia in British Guiana (now Guyana) in South America. He held the local rank of Captain here.
Alfred spent the next 2 1/2 years in British Guiana. He was promoted to Captain on the 30th October 1914 and returned to the UK on the 6th November.
By this time the First World War was underway. It had begun in early August. Alfred was assessed as 'medically unfit for service abroad' when he arrived back in the UK. Despite this, he managed to get to France and join the 1st Battalion on the 1st December.
He did this by leading a reinforcement draft overseas. Reservists and Special Reservists lived as civilians and trained as soldiers for short periods. When the war broke out they had been called into the Army. After a period of training Reservists would be drafted overseas to join their regiment and replace casualties. The drafts were led by an officer. Once he had delivered his draft, Alfred simply stayed with the 1st Battalion.
After going to all this trouble, he would ultimately spend less than a month in France. The 1st Battalion moved to Gorre in mid December in order to take part in an attack on the nearby village of Givenchy.
This attack was launched on the 20th December. Alfred commanded Number 4 Company. The 1st Battalion recaptured Givenchy and some of the trenches around it from the Germans, but were still under heavy fire from other trenches. They were ordered to capture these as well, and launched their attack at around 6am on the 21st December. It was not a success and the Battalion had to withdraw. The 1st Battalion had not been able to stop the Germans, but they had bought the rest of the British Army time to organise its defences. They suffered 66 men killed, 126 wounded and 46 missing. Alfred was one of the wounded, and he had to be evacuated back to the UK for treatment.
Alfred would not go overseas again. We don't know how long he needed to recover. We don't know what he did before the 22nd May 1916, when he was promoted to Major. Four months later he was given command of a Company in an Officer Cadet Unit.
We know that by the end of the war Alfred was serving with Number 2 Officer Cadet Battalion (OCB) at Pembroke College, Cambridge. This unit trained new officers so they would be able to go overseas and lead soldiers. The war ended on the 11th November 1918. On the 8th February 1919 Alfred left the OCB 'on account of ill-health'. He left the Army in 1924.
We don't know whether Alfred found another job after he left the Army. At some point he had married a woman named Grace, and they had had a daughter called Jocelyn, but we don't know when.
Alfred remained involved with the Manchester Regiment for the rest of his life. He became a life member of the Old Comrade's Association (OCA) in 1927. At this time he lived at 'Rawhite' in Bishop's Waltham, Hampshire. He was also involved in the Manchester Regiment Dinner Club.
In April 1947 Alfred took over the Dinner Club from William Eddowes, whose medals are also in the Museum of the Manchester Regiment collection, and became its Honorary Secretary and Treasurer. He organised its meetings and events for the next 5 years. He was very successful in the job, and when he had to leave the position his friends were very grateful 'for all that he has done'.
In 1951 Alfred took a 3 week holiday with his friend and former comrade Alexander Foord. His medals are also in the Museum of the Manchester Regiment collection. They spent 3 weeks in Wales fishing, but 'owing to dry weather they didn't catch many'. For Alexander this was an annual holiday.
Towards the end of his life Alfred lived with Grace at 'Evensong' on Nun's Walk in Virginia Water, Surrey. After a short illness, he died here on the 20th November 1953. He was 74 years old. His funeral was held at Woking Crematorium on the 23rd.
Alfred 'always showed very great keenness for the Regiment' and his friends were 'most grateful to him' for all his hard work. His medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in March 1955.