7 January 1912 - 15 November 1944

Alfred was Black Country born and bred and is my wife's maternal grandfather. He served his country in World War 2 for 4 years and 142 days, 159 of these were overseas. His record states his characteristics as; 5ft 8" tall; blue eyes; brown hair; 34" chest; scar on left fore arm. 

Below is a timeline based on a copy of his military service record, it also includes a some other related information that may be of interest.

7 January 1912 - Born in or near to the town of Stourbridge in the West Midlands

15 September 1934 - Marries Lilian May Hartshorne. They went on to have four children; Lilian Mary [Molly]; Alma Jean; Alfred William James and Mavis Shirley. All born in Brierley Hill.

27 June 1940 - Enlisted in The Kings Shropshire Light Infantry [KSLI]. His job before enlisting was states as a 'Goods Yard Porter'. His address at this time was 48 Fisher Street, Brierley Hill, Staffs.

22 March 1941 - Posted to the 5th Battalion of KSLI and carried out duties on the home front. The record states his military service/trade included having a specialist drivers licence.

1 October 1942 - Service record states Alfred was deprived of 5 days pay for driving a war department vehicle at excessive speed

25 May 1943 - Awarded 10 days confined to barracks for overstaying his privilege leave [Absent for 19 hours and 1 minute].

28 March 1944 - Alfred embarks for North Africa / Naples to join the Central Mediterranean Force [CMF].

20 April 1944 - Disembarked somewhere in Italy. 

15 September 1944 - Was transferred from KSLI to The 1st Battalion Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders who had been fighting in Northern Africa and Egypt.

15 November 1944 - Just a month after his transfer Alfred is killed in Faenza, Italy in what is stated as a 'Battle Accident'. He was 32 years old. There is a rather touching personal letter from AC Dew who was the Chaplain in Alfred's Battalion and explained the some-what unusual circumstances of how he died. He also states that Alfred's comrades dug a grave for him on a hill in sight of the enemy in driving wind and hail.
The full letter can be viewed here.  

Historical InformationOn 3 September 1943 the Allies invaded the Italian mainland, the invasion coinciding with an armistice made with the Italians who then re-entered the war on the Allied side. 

Following the fall of Rome to the Allies in June 1944, the German retreat became ordered and successive stands were made on a series of defensive lines. In the northern Apennine mountains the last of these, the Gothic Line, was breached by the Allies during the Autumn campaign and the front inched forward as far as Ravenna in the Adriatic sector, but with divisions transferred to support the new offensive in France, and the Germans dug in to a number of key defensive positions, the advance stalled as winter set in.

The war cemetery at Faenza was formed during these months for the burial of those who were killed in the static fighting before the Allied advance was renewed in April 1945.

Faenza War Cemetery contains 1,152 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War, 13 of which are unidentified.

24 November 1944 - Next of kin informed. [Note it appears this was sent to the Fisher Street address however Alfred's wife Lilian had since moved to 17 Springfield Road. This may have delayed notification].

22 June 1945 - Property found on deceased was signed for and returned to Lily Watson [wife] stated as follows;
    Fountain pen
    Cigarette case
    575 Lire in cash

War Medals - Alfred was awarded the following medals for serving his country.

Left to right:

The 1939–45 Star was a campaign medal of the British Commonwealth, awarded for service in the Second World War. The medal was awarded for operational service between 3 September 1939 and 2 September 1945.

The Italy Star was a campaign medal of the British Commonwealth, awarded for service in World War II. The medal was awarded for operational service (on land) in Italy, Greece, Yugoslavia, Pantelleria, the Aegean area and Dodecanese Islands, and Elba at any time between 11 June 1943 and 8 May 1945.

The Defence Medal was a campaign medal of the British Commonwealth, awarded for service in World War II. It was instituted to recognise both military and some types of civilian service.

The War Medal 1939–1945 was a British decoration awarded to those who had served in the Armed Forces or Merchant Navy full-time for at least 28 days between 3 September 1939 and 2 September 1945. In the Merchant Navy, the 28 days must have been served at sea. It is sometimes described as the "Victory Medal" for World War II, although that is not its correct name.

Resting Place - Alfred now rests in The Commonwealth War Grave Cemetery in Faenza a village mid-way between Bologna and Rimini in Italy. His grave reference is I.D.20. Here are a few pictures from our visit in 2010. Here's the location on GoogleMaps.





Brierley Hill War Memorial - The memorial is located at the top of Church Hill, facing towards Clent Hills and blocks of flats. It was unveiled on the 12 November 1921.

The figure in World War One uniform on top of the pedestal is based on photographs of Stanley Harley, the first Brierley Hill man to be awarded the D.C.M. Set in the upper part of the pedestal are four marble reliefs representing the work of the four main services. Although it was a World War One memorial they later added the names of the fallen from World War Two, Alfred's name is on one of the plaques there.


Edinburgh Castle Memorial Alfred is also commemorated in The Rolls of Honour in the Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle.

Personal Family Memorial

We will remember them.