There is an Albert Baker on the Hawarden War Memorial, but I cannot find any definitive facts on him. There is, however evidence of an Alfred Baker who enlisted in Queensferry. It is possible that Albert and Alfred are one and the same person and a mistake was made when the name was added to the memorial. I have proceeded with Alfred’s story on this page but if anyone knows that there was in fact an Albert Baker, please get in touch via the website and we can try to put things right.
This is the story of Alfred Baker. His connection with Flintshire is that he enlisted in Queensferry. He originated and lived most of his life in Ilkeston, Derbyshire.
Alfred was recorded on a census for the first time in 1891. He lived with his family at 20 Gladstone Street, Ilkeston, Derbyshire. Head of the household was Alfred Baker a 39 year old Coal Miner. His wife Fanny was 39. Their listed children were Arthur 16, Wilfred 14, Jane 12, Alfred 7, George 5 and Bella/Hella(?) 6 months.
The 1901 census tells us that Alfred senior, 49 was then a Widower. He still worked as a Collier, below ground as a Labourer. They were then living at 12, Albert Street, Ilkeston, Derbyshire. Also in the household was Alfred, 18 by then, a bricklayer. His brother George 13, was a Coalminer Horse Driver, below ground. (Fanny the mother possibly died in 1894 in the Basford registration district ( Vol 7b, Page 85) She was only 43 years old).
1911 census records Alfred junior as a boarder living at 3, Market Street, Ilkeston, County Nottinghamshire in the Registration District of Basford. He was, 26, Single Bricklayer (Colliery) who was born in Ilkeston, Derbyshire. He was 1 of 4 Boarders in the household of Emma Stevens, a Boarding House Keeper, her mother, 2 children and a servant.
At some point after this Alfred came to Flintshire. We can only speculate that he did what many did at that time and arrived in Shotton where there was plenty of work at the iron works including work for bricklayers.
UK Soldiers who Died in The Great War 1914 -19, accessible on www.ancestry.co.uk confirms all the military details as above left. It adds that he enlisted in Queensferry, Flintshire. This source tells us he ‘Died’ at ‘Home’. This means that he was not ‘Killed in Action’ nor ‘Died of Wounds’. He died of either illness or accident. The fact that he died ‘at home’ means that he was not overseas. It doesn’t mean he was in his own family home.
His regimental number was allocated in early May 1916. He was allocated to the 2/4th Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. This Battalion did not go overseas but was engaged in Home Defence duties. They were in Bedford in July 1916 when Alfred died. He had only been a serving soldier for a couple of months. (Many thanks for help with these details from the Army Forum).
For the full explanation of what happened to Alfred we thank Beverley from the ‘Friends of Park Cemetery Ilkeston’. ( firstname.lastname@example.org ). She found a newspaper account of his obituary. The image of the newspaper is produced (Scroll below) but it is difficult to read. Here is a transcription. Thanks to Beverley too, for the photograph of Alfred (.Below).
FUNERAL OF THE ILKESTON SOLDIER WHO DIED AT BEDFORD
The funeral of the late Lance-Corporal Alfred BAKER, 2/4th Royal Welsh Fusiliers, aged 31, whose home was in Granby Street, Ilkeston, took place on Sunday afternoon at the Park Cemetery. The body was brought home by train from Bedford on Friday night. The deceased, who was a nephew of the late Mr. Charles BAKER, who was manager at the Oakwell Colliery, was a bricklayer, and served his apprenticeship with the late Mr. T. Harper of Ilkeston, and he had worked in different parts of the country. Not long before he enlisted he succeeded in passing his examination and qualified as an architect. He was greatly esteemed by the members of his company, and his sergeant spoke highly of his industry and methodical conduct and the excellent condition in which he kept his kit.
Following a 14 miles’ route march at Bedford on the Tuesday before his death, he took part the following day in a six miles’ Marathon race, and after covering about 4 and 1/2 miles, he suddenly collapsed and expired within half an hour.
A sergeant in charge of six privates – who acted as bearers at the funeral – and a bugler from the deceased company accompanied the remains from Bedford. The customary military honours were observed at the funeral. The procession was headed by the Nation Reserve Band, which played the Dead March in “Saul” on the way to the cemetery. The coffin, draped in a Union Jack and bearing the deceased soldier’s cap, was covered with beautiful floral tokens. Members of the local Volunteer Corps in charge of Commandant W.B. Shorthose, took part in the procession, and also provided the firing party under Sub-Commandant T. Kershaw, the general military arrangements being carried out by Mr. Hugh Mackenzie who is the secretary of the National Reserve. The burial service was read by the Rev. A.L. Rose, of Holy Trinity Church.
The following wreaths were placed on the grave: “In loving memory of my dear son, from his sorrowing father”; Aunt Liza and family; Maggie & Charlie; Henry and Alice; “Love to dear Uncle, from Katharine”; ‘Hetty, Albert and Miriam; “In loving memory of our dear brother, from Florrie and Lewis (In France) and Tom”; Mr. & Mrs. Hollis; Mrs. Yarrow; Mr. & Mrs. A. Churchill, also Mr. & Mrs. W. Shaw, Larklands; “With sincere Sympathy from the officers, N.C.O.’s and men of the “B” Company 2/4th Royal Welsh Fusiliers.”
The UK, Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects, 1901-1929 in which the Army calculated what moneys were owed to deceased soldiers, includes an entry for Alfred Baker. It says he died of Heat Stroke. The sole Legatee was his father Alfred who was paid £2.2s 6d on the 17th November 1916. He was not entitled to a War Gratuity – “Not admissible” was written in his entry.
He did not qualify for any medals as he did not serve overseas.
I found a reference to a death certificate registered in Bedford for an Alfred Baker (Vol 3b, Page 279) in the September quarter of 1916.
Alfred Baker is is named on the Ilkeston War Memorial in the Market Place, Ilkeston. – , A. Baker (R.W.F.).
He is also remembered on the St. Ethelwold’s (in Shotton) Roll of Honour which is a screen to the left of the Altar, so presumably, he was a member of the congregation there.