Rifleman R/13960 Alfred William Hughes

Hughes Alfred William 96 365x600Hughes Alfred William 96 382x600

Died of Wounds on Thursday, 22nd November 1917, age 20.
Buried in Grave VI. D. 9B. at Mont Huon Military Cemetery, Le Treport, Seine-Maritime, France.

7th Bn., King's Royal Rifle Corps. 41st Brigade of 14th Division.

Son of Pattie Hughes (now Bailey) and the late Edward Hughes, of 12 Lower Church Lane, Tipton, Staffs. Born at West Bromwich, Staffs
Born: West Bromwich, Enlisted: Tipton, Resident: Tipton.

First landed France & Flanders, 11th December 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives survived and transcribed.

Not commemorated on any Tipton memorial.
Commemorated here because identified as Tipton on 'Soldiers Died in the Great War'.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/469347/

Genealogical Data

1901 Census
Lichfield Rd, Walsall Wood, Staffs.
Edward Hughes (37, Manager BrickWorks, born West Bromwich), his wife Pattie (31, born West Bromwich), and their 4 children: Adelaide (10, born West Bromwich), Edward R. (5, born West Bromwich), Alfred W. (3, born West Bromwich), and Reginald (1, born West Bromwich). The entry for Reginald age 1 is incorrect - should be Edward (see 1911)

1911 Census
35 Fisher Street, Willenhall, ,Staffs.
James Bailey (38, Police Constable, born Tittensor), his wife Pattie (41, born Handsworth), James's stepsons Edward Reginald Hughes (15, Iron Worker, born West Bromwich), Alfred William Hughes (13, School, born West Bromwich), and Edward Hughes (11, School, born West Bromwich), and his daughter Evelyn Bailey (1, born Willenhall).

Personal Data

Alfred Bailey attested with the King's Royal Rifle Corps on 5th June 1915 at Wolverhampton. He was living with his mother and step-father at 12 Church Lane, Tipton. He gave his age as 19 years and 3 days, in reality he was barely 18 years of age. He was employed as a Labourer in Buller's Foundry in Tipton. His younger brother, Edward Hughes, was to be killed in the Battle of Jutland on 31st May 1916.

Alfred was posted to the Depot Battalion, and then the 14th Battalion for his training. He first landed in France on 11th December 1915 when he was posted to the 7th Battalion KRRC. During his service it was reported that he was wounded 4 times, but his Battalion in the 14th (Light) Division was in action at the Battles of Delville Wood and Flers during the 1916 Somme campaign, as well as the Battle of Arras in 1917.

His mother wrote to the KRRC on 8th September 1916 asking if it was possible to get assistance with a travel pass to visit her son in hospital in Dublin where he was being treated for hand, shoulder and leg wounds. It is likely that these wounds were received during the Battle of Delville Wood (14th July to 3rd September 1916). The KRRC Records Office replied on 13th September, but it is not possible to read the notes added to the letter, so we do not know if his mother visited him in Dublin.

Alfred was wounded on 13th October 1917 at Ypres, and died from his wounds over 5 weeks later at the base hospital at Etaples, having had 4 operations. His mother and step-father were told by telegram of Alfred's critical condition and were able to travel to Etaples where they were with Alfred when he died on 22nd November. Alfred is buried in Etaples Military Cemetery.

After Alfred's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £10/13/2d (10 pounds, 13 shillings and 2 pence); this was paid to his mother and sole legatee, Mrs Pattie Bailey, in February 1918. His War Gratuity was £11/0/0d (11 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his mother in November 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Alfred had enlisted in June 1915.

Action resulting in his death

After the reducing successes of 3rd Ypres in August 1917, General Plumer instigated a limited-objective plan of attack referred to as 'bite and hold'. This resulted in a 4000 yards gain from late September 1917 at the Battles of Menin Road, Polygon Wood and Broodseinde. The next attack at the Battle of Poelcapelle on 9th October in appalling conditions was a defensive success for the Germans, but at great cost to both sides. Misleading information about supposed success here led Plumer to plan an attack on the Passchendaele Ridge on 12th October, the first Battle of Passchendaele.

The attack took ground in the north but early gains around Passchendaele were mostly lost to German counter-attacks. Like the Battle of Poelcapelle 3 days earlier, the battle was a German defensive success, at great cost to both sides. Further British attacks were postponed until the weather improved and communications behind the front had been restored.

On the day of the first Battle of Passchendaele, the 7th KRRC got away lightly with 6 men killed in action, and on the 13th just one man dying of wounds. It was on the 13th that Alfred was wounded according the article in the Tipton Herald, a day with apparently little action. Alfred died from his wounds on 22nd November, and is buried in Mont Huon Military Cemetery, at Le Treport.

Newspaper Cuttings

Letter from Mrs Bailey (Alfred Hughes's mother) to Kings Royal Rifles, dated September 8th 1916.
12 Church Lane, Tipton
Sept 8th 1916
Dear Sir,
Since receiving the paper from you saying my son Rifleman A.W. Hughes 13360 KRRC was wounded, I have received a letter saying he has been removed to No. 7 Ward, Richmond Hospital, Dublin, Ireland, and that he is wounded in hand, shoulder and legs. I should very much like to see him as we never know how these wounds turn out. It is 11 months since I last saw him and I ask you most kindly if you could send me a pass to enable me to go to Dublin to visit him. I am not in a position to pay my own fare or I would not ask. I have had one son killed in the Jutland Battle so you see I have had my trouble. An early answer will greatly oblige.
Yours Obediently
Pattie Bailey

Tipton Herald December 15th 1917
Mother Loses a Second Son
The death occurred at Le Treport Hospital, France, on November 22nd, of Rifleman Alfred Hughes, of the King's Royal Rifles from wounds received on October 13th at Ypres. At hospital he was operated on four times. He was only 20 years of age and joined the army in June 1915, when he was barely 18. Before this he was employed at Messrs. Buller's Ltd., Tipton. He was the second son of Mrs Pattie Bailey, of 12 Lower Church Lane (formerly of West Bromwich), and a stepson of PC James Bailey, of the Tipton Constabulary.
On November 19th, Mrs Bailey received a telegram calling her to France and with her husband proceeded to the hospital, and was with her son when he died. He was interred in Le Treport cemetery on November 23rd, and a memorial service was held on Sunday night in St. Martin's Church. He had been four times wounded, and volunteered for the front after his last recovery.
His eldest brother, Driver Edward Reg Hughes, is now a munitions worker in London. Mrs Bailey lost her youngest son, Edward Hughes, who was a 1st class boy in the navy, aged 17, on May 31st of last year, when "H.M.S. Black Prince" was sunk near Norway. The mother recently received the following letter from headquarters;- "A report has reached the department from Norway respecting the recovery of bodies of certain men who lost their lives in the naval action of May 31st, June 1st 1916. On one of the bodies was found a letter from your address and signed "Your loving mother". A copy of the letter was forwarded, and Mrs Bailey at once recognised it as one she had sent her son. A further official communication announced that the deceased had received a Christian burial at Tonsberg, Norway, by the Norwegian Authorities.