Albert Brandreth, Private 1994, 1/5th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment
Killed in action 17th June 1916 in France, aged 19
Albert Brandreth was born in Macclesfield in late 1896, the son of Adeline and John Brandreth , a slater. In 1901, four year old Albert was living at 226 Peter Street, Macclesfield, with his parents and siblings Sarah (21), John Tom (18), Emily (15), Harriet (14), and Ada (12). By 1911, Albert’s mother had died and he was living with his father at 4 Court 1 House Crompton Road, Macclesfield, employed as a cotton weaver.
Albert was educated at Crompton Road School, and attended Crompton Road Sunday School, where he was a member of the Boy Scouts troop. Prior to enlisting he was employed at Lower Heyes Mill.
Albert enlisted into the 7th Cheshire Regiment at the age of 17 in August 1914, and volunteered for overseas service with the 5th Cheshire Regiment. The 5th Cheshire Regiment was based in Cambridge from December 1914 until they were drafted out to France, landing at Le Havre on 15th February 1915.
Initially, the 5th Cheshire Regiment was attached to the 14th Brigade in the 5th Division, but on 29th November 1915 they became the Pioneer Battalion to the Division, and on 13th February 1916 they were attached to the 56th (London) Division. A pioneer battalion is a battalion of soldiers used to carry out engineering and construction tasks.
Albert was with a group of men sent to the trenches to carry out repairs on the morning of 17th June 1916 and whilst doing this work he was shot by a machine gun.
Albert’s death was reported in the Macclesfield Courier of 8th July 1916:
PRIVATE A BRANDRETH
We regret to state that Mrs Corbishley, of 19 Mill Street, has received information to the effect that her brother, Private Albert Brandreth, Regt. No 1994, has been killed in action in France. The following has been received from one of his chums: –
“Dear Mrs Corbishley, I am called upon to perform one of the most painful duties that has befallen my lot since being in France. This morning I learned the sad news that Albert has been killed in action. I have no doubt this will come as a great shock to you, for in our new role as pioneers many are under the impression we are not subject to much danger. In fact such was the case with the platoon to which Albert belonged up to a few days ago. It was then they were sent to the trenches to effect some repairs. I am not able to state the time definitely, but one of his pals told me that a machine-gun bullet entered his head, just below the brim of his steel helmet. I may add here that his death was instantaneous, which in itself is merciful indeed.
The remainder of the company received the news with profound sorrow, for he was well-liked by them all… He was fearless and strong, willing to play any part… Always ready to lend a hand, and a cheerful smile for all. And now he is at rest, having joined his chum who fell in the early days, but in memory he will always be with us, for we never could have a better example of a true British soldier. In conclusion, please accept the deepest sympathy of his numerous friends and myself. Yours truly, Jack Holland.”
His officer, Second Lieutenant H E Ratcliffe, has also sent the following letter:
“Dear Mrs Corbishley, I wish to express my very deepest sympathy to you in the loss you have sustained by the death of your brother. Private Brandreth was a good and gallant soldier…. I was with him when he was hit… Yours sincerely, Herbert E Ratcliffe.”
Private Brandreth was much liked by all the soldiers with whom he came into contact. He enlisted in the 7th Cheshires in August 1914, on the outbreak of war, and later volunteered for transference to the 1/5th Cheshires with which regiment he was drafted out to France in January 1915. He was 19 years of age, and when he enlisted was only 17. Prior to enlisting he was employed at Lower Heyes Mill for a week or two, but as work went slack he enlisted. His father died about nine months ago while he was at the front. He has one cousin killed and one wounded. He was educated at Crompton Road School, and belonged to that troop of Boy Scouts and the Sunday School. A memorial Service will be conducted on Sunday evening… at Crompton Road Church.
Private Albert Brandreth is buried in Grave Ref. II. C. 3. of the Hebuterne Military Cemetery in France. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private Albert Brandreth, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.