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Alfred Henry Hall

Private Alfred H. Hall, G/17374, Royal Sussex Regiment, 11th Battalion

Alfred Henry Hall was born in Ossett on the 8th August 1898 and was baptised at St Peter’s Church, Earlsheaton on the 28th August 1898. He was the elder son of three children born to hairdresser Alfred William Hall and his wife Lillie (nee Swallow) whose home, in 1898, was Cambridge. The couple married in Cambridge in late 1895.

In 1901 Alfred, Lillie and their two children, including Alfred junior, were living in Cambridge. They also have two boarders, both hairdressers , one of whom was born in Germany. Alfred senior died in 1904 and by 1911 the family comprised Lillie, a 43 year old working widow with three children under the age of 13 years who were all still at school. The family had moved since 1901 but were still living in Cambridge.

Alfred’s army service record has not survived but he enlisted at Cambridge and joined the 11th battalion Royal Sussex Regiment with regimental service number G/17374. Alfred was 19 years old in August 1917 and should not have embarked for France until after that date. He was killed in action on the 31st October 1917 suggesting that he had not been in France for very long. He was posthumously awarded the British and Victory Medals but did not qualify for the 1914/15 Star because he did not serve overseas before 31st December 1915.

The 11th (1st South Down) Battalion, of the Royal Sussex Regiment was raised at Bexhill on the 7th of September 1914 by Lieut-Col. Lowther, MP and Committee. After initial training close to home, they moved to Maidstone in July 1915 and were adopted by the War Office. They moved to Aldershot in September and then to Witley to join 116th Brigade, 39th Division in October. They proceeded to France, landed at Le Havre in March 1916, the division concentrating near Blaringhem and receiving five battalions from other divisions to replace those of 118th Brigade who had remained in England to complete their training.

On the 30th June 1916 they were in action in an attack near Richebourg l'Avoue with the Sussex battalions suffered heavy casualties. They were in action during the Battles of the Somme, including, the fighting on the Ancre, The Battle of Thiepval Ridge, The Battle of the Ancre heights and the capture of Schwaben Redoubt and Stuff Trench as well as The Battle of the Ancre.

In 1917 they fought in The Battle of Pilkem Ridge, The Battle of Langemarck, The Battle of the Menin Road Ridge, The Battle of Polygon Wood and The Second Battle of Passchendaele.

In 1918 they were in action at The Battle of St Quentin, The actions at the Somme crossings, The Battle of Bapaume and The Battle of Rosieres before moving to Flanders. They took part n The fighting on Wytschaete Ridge, The First and Second Battle of Kemmel and The Battle of the Scherpenberg. The Division had suffered heavy losses and they were reduced to a cadre on the 23rd of May. On the 30th of June they transferred to 75th Brigade, 25th Division and crossed back to England, going to Aldershot. In July they absorbed the 13th Royal West Kents to return to strength. On the 9th of September the Brigade was renamed 236th Brigade and left the Division. On the 17th of October they sailed from Dundee for service in North Russia.

Private Alfred Hall died on the 31st October 1917 aged 19 years in fighting at the Second Battle of Passchendaele as part of the 116th Brigade in the 39th Division.

Whilst Alfred Hall was born in Ossett and baptised in Earlsheaton his parents’ address at the time of the baptism was Cambridge. It is unsurprising therefore that he is not remembered on any Ossett Memorial or Roll of Honour.

He is remembered in this 2014 biography and Roll of Honour because the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and/or the "U.K. Soldiers who Died in the Great War 1914-1918" listing records him as born or residing in Ossett.

Passchendaele 1917

Above: The mud of Passchendaele in October 1917.

Private Alfred Henry Hall, son of Mrs. Lillie Hall, of 9, Clement Place, Park St., Cambridge, died aged 19 years on the 31st October 1917. He is buried at grave reference Enclosure No.2 III. B. 15 at the Bedford House Cemetery,1 Ieper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium. Bedford House Cemetery is located 2.5 Km south of Ieper town centre. The cemetery lies on the Rijselseweg (N336), the road connecting Ieper to Armentieres.

Zillebeke village and most of the commune were in the hands of Commonwealth forces for the greater part of the First World War, but the number of cemeteries in the neighbourhood bears witness to the fierce fighting in the vicinity from 1914 to 1918.

Bedford House, sometimes known as Woodcote House, were the names given by the Army to the Chateau Rosendal, a country house in a small wooded park with moats. Although it never fell into German hands, the house and the trees were gradually destroyed by shell fire. It was used by field ambulances and as the headquarters of brigades and other fighting units, and charcoal pits were dug there from October 1917.

In time, the property became largely covered by small cemeteries; five enclosures existed at the date of the Armistice, but the graves from No.1 were then removed to White House Cemetery, St. Jean, and those from No.5 to Aeroplane Cemetery, Ypres.

Enclosure No.2 was begun in December 1915, and used until October 1918. After the Armistice, 437 graves were added, all but four of which came from the Ecole de Bienfaisance and Asylum British Cemeteries, both at Ypres.

In all, 5,139 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War are buried or commemorated in the enclosures of Bedford House Cemetery. 3,011 of the burials are unidentified but special memorials commemorate a number of casualties known or believed to be buried among them. Other special memorials name casualties buried in other cemeteries whose graves could not be found on concentration. Second World War burials number 69 (3 of which are unidentified). There are 2 Germans buried here.


1. Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site