3/7947 Private Alfred Mead, 7th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment
Born 21st March 1885 in Great Gaddesden
Killed in Action 3rd May 1917 in France
Alfred Mead was born in Great Gaddesden, the third of the six children of William Mead and Elizabeth, née Goodege.
His older sister Hettie Louisa was born on 16th November 1879 and his older brother Albert Thomas on 28th October 1882. His sister Alice Jane was born on 5th September 1890, his sister Kate in 1895 and his brother Ernest in 1897. In the 1891 and 1901 Census returns, the family lived at “The Barracks”, Great Gaddesden. Alfred’s father was a Stonebreaker for the roads in 1891 and an Agricultural Labourer in 1901.
In the 1901 Census Alfred was a 16 year old Horse Keeper on a farm, sharing a cottage with his brother Albert next door to his parents and younger siblings in Great Gaddesden.
On 10th November 1906 at St John the Baptist’s Church, Great Gaddesden Alfred Mead, 21, Batchelor, a Labourer of Great Gaddesden and son of William Mead, Labourer married Isabella Jane Vickers, 20, Spinster of Two Waters Road, Boxmoor, daughter of Charles Lightfoot, Plumber.
Alfred and Isabella moved to No 11 Little Gaddesden after their marriage and Alfred worked as a Farm Carter. They had four daughters. The eldest, Doris Hettie, was born on 2nd June 1908, followed by Winifred Elsie on 22nd March 1910. Cissie Alice was born on 10th March 1912 and Florence Kate on 7th June 1914. Florence’s Baptism record indicates that they had moved to No 1 Little Gaddesden by 2nd August 1914 and that Alfred had become a Keeper.
Alfred enlisted into the Bedfordshire Regiment at Hertford while resident in Little Gaddesden. He first served overseas in France on 27th July 1915, so must have volunteered quite early in the War. On 1st July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, he was listed among the men of D Company, 7th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment wounded in the attack on Pommiers Redoubt. Fortunately, he recovered from that wound and returned to the 7th Battalion.
Death of his brother Ernest 11
On 23rd October 1916, Alfred’s younger brother (15620 Lance Sergeant Ernest Mead, B Company, 13th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment) died of wounds on the Somme. He was only 19 and had lived at 13 St Margaret’s with his parents. He is buried at Puchevillers British Cemetery, Somme, France. He is named on the Great Gaddesden War Memorial as Sergt. E. Mead, 13th Royal Sussex and is listed on the Great Gaddesden Church Roll of Honour.
On 3rd May 1917, 32 year old Private Alfred Mead was killed in action during the Battle of Arras (3rd Battle of the Scarpe). However, his body was not found for burial. Almost 3 months later, on the 20th July 1917, he was named on the British Red Cross and Order of St John list of men missing in action, about whom enquiries had been made. That record notes his service in XIV Platoon, D Company, 7th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment. Alfred’s “Register of Soldiers’ Effects” entry subsequently recorded his death as “on or since 3.5.17. Death presumed”. He left a widow and 4 daughters under 9 years old.
Commemoration in France 12
Alfred has no known grave. He is commemorated on Bay 5 of the Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais, France.
His Grave Registration Report recorded that he was “son of William and Elizabeth Mead, of 13, St. Margaret’s, Hemel Hempstead, Herts; husband of Isabella J. Mead, of 1, Little Gaddesden, Berkhamsted, Herts”.
We will remember them 9
Alfred Mead is commemorated on the War Memorials on the village green and in St Peter & St Paul’s Church Little Gaddesden. He is also named on the Roll of Honour in the church.
He was posthumously awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal. His next of kin would also have received a memorial plaque and scroll; an example of the scroll and covering letter can be seen in William Mayling’s entry.
Also named on the Roll of Honour is Arthur Halsey who served in the Army Service Corps and Labour Corps and, in 1931, married Alfred’s eldest daughter Doris.
7. Little Gaddesden Baptism Register 1813 – 1947
10. Deacon, M.G. (ed), 2004, The Shiny Seventh; The 7th (Service) Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment at War 1915-1918, Beds Historical Record Society (No 83), p227
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