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Hemmings, Alfred

Alfred’s paternal grandfather Thomas, was from Warwickshire, but Thomas’s mother, Alice Elizabeth Roberts, was from Lostwithiel in Cornwall.

Thomas was:

  • A labourer living in Flookers Brook, Hoole in 1861
  • A railway wagon examiner living in Hoole in 1871,
  • A shunter at Mold Junction in 1874, in 1881
  • A railway wagon examiner living at St David’s Terrace in Saltney in 1881 and 1891

Alfred’s father William was born in Hoole in 1866, one of at least 8 children by Thomas and his second wife, Alice.  William was also a Railway Wagon Examiner.  He died 27 Jul 1953 in War Memorial Hospital, Wrexham.

Alfred was the youngest of two children and was born in Hope in 1897.  In 1901 Alfred lived with his parents William and Mary, and his sister Alice May, in Penymynydd Road, Penyffordd.

In 1911 the family lived in Bell View Terrace, Penyffordd.  This would appear to be a row of terraced houses on the corner of Penymynydd Road and Chester Road, still in existence.  At this point Alice was a Millinery Apprentice aged 16, and Alfred was a Tailors Apprentice aged 14.  By the time the Penyffordd War Memorial was erected the family was described as living in The Cottage, Penyffordd.  This appears to be further along Penymynydd Road. Alfred’s sister and parents were still living there in 1939.

Alice was born in Hope in 1894, and named after her paternal aunt and paternal grandmother.  After training as a milliner Alice went on to become a Manageress and Buyer of Ladies and Childrens Wear.  She died in Wrexham in May 1982, aged 87.  She had inherited a substantial estate from her mother in 1952, and from her father in 1953.  She appeared to be single – was she one of the young women who lost a loved one in the war, and subsequently never married?

Attestation papers

Attestation papers

Description on enlistment

Description on enlistment

Alfred was a 19 year old tailor when he enlisted at Mold on 15th November 1915.  He was attached to the Royal Welsh Fusiliers on general reserve on 16th November 1915.  On 3rd March 1916 Alfred was appointed to the 5th Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers by the recruiting officer at Wrexham, and mobilised as part of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force.  On 6th September 1916 he left Devonport on board the H T Princess of Britain and disembarked in Alexandria on 17th September 1916.

300px-SS_Empress_of_Britain_pre-1924

Empress of Britain

This Canadian owned transatlantic liner was refitted and recommissioned as a troop transport in May 1915.  She carried more than 110,000 troops to the Dardanelles, Egypt and India. She also carried Canadian and US expeditionary forces across the North Atlantic.  She has a chequered history – read more about her at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RMS_Empress_of_Britain_(1905).

On 24th September 1916 Alfred joined the battalion in the field, which was at Port Said, but he was later was killed in action on 26th March 1917 at the first battle of Gaza.  This battle, fought in and around the Mediterranean town of Gaza on 26th March 1917 was a defeat for the British forces when the infantry and mounted infantry was withdrawn late in the afternoon because of impending darkness and large numbers of  Ottoman forces. The ottoman casualties numbered 2447 but the British casualties numbered 3,967 (with 523 killed). This first attempt by the Egyptian Expeditionary Force to invade the south of Palestine in the Ottoman Empire was followed a few weeks later by the even more emphatic defeat at the Second Battle of Gaza in April 1917.

William Cox, William Henry HayesEdmund Godfrey CatherallArthur Millington and Thomas Bate also died at Gaza on 16th March 1917.

For more about the campaign in Gaza see:

For more about the controversial decision to withdraw the forces from the attack: http://www.firstworldwar.com/battles/gaza1.htm

Hemmings grave

The grave of Alice Hemming and her parents in Hope Cemetery

Alfred is remembered on the Jerusalem Memorial in Israel:

Jerusalem Memorial

Locally he is remembered on the Caergwrle and on the Penyffordd War Memorial on a plaque sited inside the Penyffordd & Penymynydd War Memorial Institute:

penyffordd1

He is also remembered on a plaque and a memorial window in the Trinity Chapel in Penyffordd.  Was this where he and his family worshipped?

Trinity Chapel, Penyffordd

Trinity Chapel in Penyffordd

Memorial to Alfred in Trinity Chapel, PenyfforddMemorial window to Alfred Hemmings in Trinity Chapel

Receipt of medals

Receipt for medals

On 1st May 1922 W Hemmings (presumably Alfred’s father William) signed for the receipt of his medals.  There were no soldiers effects to be returned to the family.

For a video about Alfred go to:to: https://vimeo.com/channels/hopeparish/109709841.

His family history can be viewed at http://person.ancestry.co.uk/tree/70118846/person/42213474412/facts

 


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