Alphonso Corbishley, Private 42203, Royal Army Medical Corps attd. 19th Field Ambulance
Died of wounds 25th October 1916 in Somme, France, aged 23
Alphonso Corbishley was born on 31st August 1893 in Macclesfield, the son of Selina and Orlando Corbishley, a wheelwright. In 1901, seven year old Alphonso was living at 9 York St, Macclesfield with his parents and siblings Lawrence (17), Beatrice (14), Selina (11), Albert (10) and Lily (1).
Alphonso was educated at St Paul’s Church School and he was a regular attender at the Macclesfield Large Sunday School. After leaving school, Alphonso found work as a quarryman and on 24 September 1906 he registered with Macclesfield Technical School to further his education. Two years later in October 1908 he re-registered for another course at the Technical School; by this time he had been promoted to the job of stone-dresser.
The 1911 census shows the family still living at 9 York Street, and Alphonso had found employment as a stonemason for the Macclesfield Corporation; he also had another sister, Lavinia, who was then aged 9.
Alphonso later found employment with Mr J Clayton, of Sunderland Street, Macclesfield. According to his advertisement in Kelly’s directory of 1910, John Clayton was a joiner, builder and contractor, sanitary engineer, and builder’s merchant, contractor to H.M. Government and patentee of doors for bookcases, etc, with honours certificates in building construction, carpentry and joinery, etc.
Alphonso attested at Macclesfield on 15 October 1914, joining the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC). He spent some time at the King George Hospital, Dublin and then proceeded to Aldershot where he completed his training. He was drafted to France on 3 June 1915 and remained at the base hospital until August, when he transferred to the 19th Field Ambulance section, which came under the command of the 2nd Division between August and November 1915, and the 33rd Division thereafter.
A Field Ambulance was a mobile front line medical unit – not a vehicle – manned by troops of the Royal Army Medical Corps. A Field Ambulance came under the command of a Division, and had responsibility for the care of casualties of a Brigade within that Division. The Field Ambulance was responsible for establishing and operating the stretcher-bearer posts, behind the Regimental Aid Posts in the front line, taking casualties rearwards through an Advanced Dressing Station (ADS) to the Main Dressing Station (MDS). It also provided a Walking Wounded Collecting Station, as well as various rest areas and local sick rooms. RAMC officers and men did not carry weapons or ammunition. For more information, see the Long, Long Trail website.
It is not known where in France Alphonso was located when he was injured by a shell and died of his wounds when going out to the assistance of the wounded, but it must have been somewhere fairly close to where he was buried, in Guillemont, near Albert, in the Somme region of France. Alphonso left his personal effects to Miss Emily Hamer – perhaps she was his sweetheart?
Alphonso’s death was reported in the Macclesfield Times of 17 Nov 1916. His death was also reported in the Macclesfield Courier of 18 November 1916:
PRIVATE A CORBISHLEY
Private Alphonso Corbishley, of the RAMC, has been killed in action in France by a shell on October 25th. He was 23 years of age and enlisted soon after the outbreak of war and was drafted out to France in May, 1915. Before enlisting he was employed by Mr J Clayton, of Sunderland Street.
Private Alphonso Corbishley is buried in Grave Ref. I. D. 9. in the Guillemont Road Cemetery, Somme, France. His father asked for a cross and the words “May his reward be as great as his sacrifice” to be added to his gravestone.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private Alphonso Corbishley.
In Macclesfield, Private Alphonso Corbishley is commemorated on the Park Green, Town Hall, St Michael’s Church, and Macclesfield Sunday School war memorials. He is also remembered on the headstone of the family grave at plot F.5079 in Macclesfield Cemetery.
Brother of Orlando Corbishley, who served as L/Cpl 542425 with the Royal Engineers; Laurence Corbishley, who served as Private 90644 with the RAF; and Albert Corbishley, who served as Private 244345 with the 5th Cheshire Regiment. All three survived the war.
GRO (England & Wales) Index: Births
Census (England & Wales): 1901, 1911
National School Admission Registers and Log-books: Macclesfield Technical School
Kelly’s Directory of Cheshire for 1910
WWI British Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects
WWI British Army Medal Rolls Index Cards
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
WWI Absent Voters Lists: Macclesfield Parliamentary Division
Macclesfield Times: 17 November 1916
Macclesfield Courier: 18 November 1916
Cheshire Year Book: 1917