Alfred Smith, Private 30644, 11th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment
Killed in action 30th July 1916 in the Somme, France, aged 33
Alfred Smith was born in Macclesfield in the summer of 1884, the son of Sarah Ann Smith, a silk winder. In 1891, six year old Alfred was living at Court 2 House 3, Parsonage St, Macclesfield with his mother and sister Bertha (1). Ten years later the family had moved to 13 Barker St, Macclesfield, and Alfred, employed as a silk piecer, had two more siblings: Nellie (8) and George (1). Alfred’s mother Sarah was described as a widow.
By 1911 the family had moved again, to 64 Elizabeth St, Macclesfield. Alfred was employed as a silk embroiderer at Albion Mills and he had another sister, Florence, aged 8. Alfred later found employment as a window cleaner, working for Mr Bowler.
Alfred was educated at Lord Street Day School and was a member of the Zion Mission.
Alfred enlisted with the Cheshire Regiment on 27th March 1916 at the age of 32. His Army service records describe him as being just 5 feet 1½ inches tall, weighing 94 pounds with a 29 inch chest. He initially joined the 17th (Reserve) Battalion of the Cheshire Regt and was allocated to the 13th battalion on 23rd June 1916, following which he was drafted to France, arriving at Etaples on 25th June. Alfred was transferred again to the 11th battalion Cheshire Regiment on 13th July, and was killed in action just 17 days later on 30th July, after being hit on the head by a large piece of shrapnel.
His death was reported in the Macclesfield Times of 25th August 1916:
MOTHER’S SAD LOSS – SON KILLED AFTER A MONTH IN FRANCE
Yesterday morning Mrs Smith, 64 Elizabeth Street, Macclesfield, received an official intimation stating that her son, Private Alfred Smith, 11th Cheshire Regt was killed in action in France on July 30th. Private Smith only enlisted eighteen weeks ago, and was drafted out to France just over a month ago.
The deceased soldier was 33 years of age and was educated at the Lord Street Day School. Prior to enlisting he was employed at the Albion Mills, and previously by Mr Bowler as a window cleaner. Private Smith was well-known in Macclesfield, and will be missed by a large circle of friends. He was a member of the Zion Mission. His mother had the following letter from a friend: “Just a few lines with our deepest sympathy towards you and your family, for well we know Alfred was a most devoted son and loving brother, ever ready and willing to do all he could for you. We have known him all his life, and we can assure you we have always found him honest, hardworking, and upright. He has always said, ‘I shall always look after mother,’ but at an unexpected moment he met his death doing his best for his country. You will miss his bright and cheerful face, and his kind actions shown in the household. A bright intelligent son, though dead, cannot be forgotten – A.B.”
His death was also reported in the Macclesfield Courier of 26th August 1916:
PRIVATE A SMITH KILLED
Mrs Smith, of 62 Elizabeth Street, has received information that her eldest son, Private Alfred Smith, has been killed inaction in France. The news is not yet official, but the following is an extract from a letter which has been received from a friend of his who was in the same trench when the accident occurred: “If Private Smith’s mother asks you anything about his death tell her he was killed instantly by a lump of shrapnel, which took part of his head off. There was a large number killed at the same time as him, and some wounded. I was one of the lucky ones, as I was only five yards from him at the time, and it is a wonder I have come out alive. I feel very sorry for him and his parents, as it is very hard to lose so many Macclesfield chums.”
Private Smith was 33 years of age and enlisted in the 13th Cheshires in March. He was later transferred to the 11th Cheshires and was drafted out with this regiment only three weeks ago without having had a single furlough since enlisting.
The death of Alfred Smith was also reported in the Macclesfield Times of 15th September 1916.
Private Alfred Smith has no known grave and is named on Panel Ref. Pier and Face 3 C and 4 A of the Thiepval Memorial in Somme, France. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private Alfred Smith.
The floral tributes laid when the Macclesfield Park Green War Memorial was unveiled on 21st September 1921 included one with the words “In loving memory of Private Alfred Smith, from mother, brother, and sisters.”
GRO (England & Wales) Index: Births
Census (England & Wales): 1891, 1901, 1911
WW1 British Army Service Records 1914-1920
WWI British Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects
WWI British Army Medal Rolls Index Cards
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Macclesfield Times: 25th August 1916
Macclesfield Courier: 26th August 1916