Private 37888 Alfred Steventon

Steventon Alfred 96 427x600

Died of Wounds on Wednesday, 5th December 1917, age 30.
Buried in Grave XXXI. A. 14. at Etaples Military Cemetery, Pas De Calais, France.

2nd/6th Bn., South Staffordshire Regiment. 176th Brigade of 59th Division.

Son of William and Eliza Steventon, of 5, Crescent Rd., Ellesmere Port. Cheshire.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Wednesbury, Resident: Tipton.

First landed France & Flanders, post 31st December 1915.
Medal entitlement: British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the Tipton Library, and St. John's memorials.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/506159/

Genealogical Data

1891 Census
38 Union Street, Tipton, Staffs.
William Steventon (age 32, Puddler, born Tipton), his wife Eliza (age 29, born Tipton), and their 3 children John (age 7, Scholar, born Tipton), Millicent (age 6, Scholar, born Tipton) and Willie (age 3, born Tipton).

1901 Census
21 Queens Road, Tipton, Staffs.
William Steventon (42, Iron Worker, born Tipton), his wife Eliza (39, born Sedgley), and their 7 children: John (17, Coal Miner, born Tipton), William (13, Scrap Wheeler at Iron Works, born Tipton), Lydia (12, born Tipton), Mary (8, born Tipton), Thomas (5, born Tipton), Harriet (4, born Tipton) and Minnie (5 months, born Tipton).

10th November 1907 at St Paul's Church, Owen Street, Tipton.
Marriage of:
William Alfred Steventon, age 20, Bachelor, occupation: Cutter (Iron), father William Steventon, Puddler.
Mary Ann Johnson, age 19, Spinster, father: John Johnson.
Both shown as living in Union Street, Tipton.

William is not with his parents on the 1911 Census, they are living at 40 Union Street. No trace can be found of William and Mary.

Personal Data

This man is recorded as Alfred on the Tipton Library Memorial and the CWGC. His birth was registered as William Alfred, and recorded on the census as William. I am confident because of the parent's names on CWGC, that this man is William Alfred Steventon, known as Alfred.

After Alfred's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £5/15/9d (5 pounds, 15 shillings and 9 pence); this was paid to his mother and sole legatee, Eliza, in March 1918. His War Gratuity was £3/0/0d (3 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his mother in November 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Alfred had enlisted within the previous 12 months.

Action resulting in his death

After the initial success on the opening day of the Battle of Cambrai, the breakthrough to Cambrai was elusive. Bourlon Wood, dominating the northern end of the battlefield, was eventually captured but was under constant bombardment giving massive casualties.

On 28th November the 2/6th South Staffs moved into Bourlon Wood and came under heavy bombardment, with large amounts of phosgene gas. Bourlon Wood was abandoned on the 3rd December, as it was impossible to hold against German shelling.

War Diary of 2nd/6th South Staffs.
29th November 1917, Bourlon Wood.
Enemy heavily bombarded Bourlon Wood with High Explosive and Gas shells and attacked front line positions on the 2/6th North Staffs regiment front, to which we were in support. 'A' Company advanced through the wood under heavy fire and reinforced the front line in answer to the S.O.S signal. The Company sustained several gas casualties.

30th November 1917, Bourlon Wood.
The battalion was heavily bombarded by Gas and High Explosive shells. During these two days the battalion suffered heavy causalities from gas, the whole of 'A', 'C' & 'D' Companies becoming casualties.

27 men of the 2/6th South Staffs were killed on the 30th November, Edward Malugani, Joseph Taylor and Jonathan Edwards, were from Tipton. Over the next 2 weeks, a further 55 men of the 2/6th South Staffs died, mostly due to the effects of gas in Bourlon Wood.

Alfred's Soldier's Effects entry shows that his death was due to "Gas Wounds", so without doubt he was gassed at Bourlon Wood on 30th November. Alfred died on 5th December 1917 at one of the large Base Hospitals at Etaples, near Boulogne, and he is buried in Etaples Military Cemetery.

Newspaper Cuttings