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alfred gray 1Alfred Gray was born in Bolton in 1894 and by 1911 was 17 years old and living at 84 Railway Road, Chorley whilst working as a Card Room Weaver.

He was 21 years old when War was declared and he enlisted into Kitchener’s New Army at Chorley on 3rd September 1914 where he joined the newly-raised 10th (Service) Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment with the number 13395. He gave his occupation as being a bleacher; and we know from articles in the Chorley Guardian that he was working at Marriage and Pinnock cotton spinners and manufacturers who had a mill in Chorley. Alfred had no previous military experience and had since moved a few doors down the street to No. 89 Railway Road. He listed his next of kin as his mother Mrs Mary Gray of 89 Railway Road and his father Alfred – address unknown.

At his enlistment medical the officer described him as standing 5ft 3in tall, weighing 116lbs with a 35in chest. For the purposes of identification of his body on the battlefield, should the worst happen, the doctor also made note of two moles on his chest, and another on the back of his neck. Alfred had blue eyes, brown hair and was of fresh complexion.

He was then attached to the 22nd Division at South Downs, Eastbourne and Aldershot whilst learning to be a soldier and training for service overseas. He sailed to France on 31st July 1915 with the initial deployment of the 10th Battalion, part of 112th Brigade in the 37th Division, and landed in Boulogne under cover of darkness the next morning.

During the Battle of the Somme  he was wounded in action on 12/13th July 1916 and was picked up by No. 103 Field Ambulance and was taken to No. 13 Stationary Hospital in Boulogne. The Battalion had been in the trenches for three days near Sausage Redoubt (Heligoland).

Extract from the 10th Battalion War Diary

11th July 1916 – Today at 2 p.m. the Battalion relieved the 11th Warwicks in Trenches. The enemy continually peppered us with gas shells and shrapnel shells , which though disturbing did no damage.

12th July 1916 – Today the enemy being much more active active we sustained many casualties including Captain Dryden, Captain Dennys and Second Lieutenants Bee, Atkinson, Squibb and Woolley.

13th July 1916 – The Battalion was relieved by the 8th East Lancs and we went into close support to them at HELIGOLAND.

He was send back to the UK on the hospital ship H.S Cumbria with a ‘blighty one’ where he was treated at the Military Hospital at Trent Bridge in Nottingham for a large gunshot wound to his lower thigh. Within a month his wound was found to be superficial, so Alfred wouldn’t be getting his discharge but would be transferred into the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion  L.N.L. and to a Convalescent Hospital in Alnwick, Northumberland until he had recovered enough to be able to go back out to the Front.

Whilst at Alnwick he incurred his only regimental entry; being detained for 72 hours as punishment for falling out route march without permission. He was also allowed 9 days leave in October which presumably he used to travel back to Lancashire.

Hospital Ship Cambria - requisitioned by the Admiralty as an Armed boarding steamer in 1914 and became a hospital ship after August 1915.

H.S Cambria – requisitioned by the Admiralty as an Armed boarding steamer in 1914 and became a hospital ship after August 1915.

Private Gray arrived back in France in late February 1917 and spent the first three weeks at the Infantry Base Depot before being drafted across to the 8th (Service) Battalion L.N.L.

On 18th July 1917 Private Alfred Gray was posted as being missing in action near Ypres. The Battalion had been in action in the HOOGE sector and Alfred’s death was later presumed to occurred on or since that day for official purposes.

Extract from 8th Battalion War Diary

18th July 1917 – A raid was carried out by 100 men of C Company under Second Lieutenant H. BROWN and Second Lieutenant S. APPLEBY.

Objectives: Enemy’s front and support line; IGNORNACE TRENCH and SUPPORT. Object: To capture Germans, secure idenfication and destroy trenches.

The raid started at 10.30 p.m. (zero hour). All Objectives were reached but enemy trenches found unoccupied. Dugouts were bombed. At zero hour + 5 minutes, Enemy put a heavy barrage on his own front and support lines which caused our party considerable casualties. Missing: Second Lieutenant APPLEBY. Wounded: Second Lieutenant BROWN. Other Ranks; killed: 2, wounded: 19, missing: 11.

His sacrifice is recalled at YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL and is recorded in Adam Cree’s work on the Chorley Memorial Album on page CMB/I/60a (shown below) which was compiled by Susannah Knight and is held at Astley Hall. He also appears on the Memorial Plaque in the Parish Church of St Laurence where he had been a member of the congregation.

His mother was sent his personal effects from France containing letters, photos and a pocket book. Later she also signed for his 1914/15 Star, British War Medal and Allied Victory Medal and would have received a memorial plaque and scroll bearing her late-son’s name and in recognition of his sacrifice.

Rank: Private
Service No: 13395
Date of Death: 18/07/1917
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 8th Bn.

Paul McCormick
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