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Alfred Nuttall was born in Bolton on 30th July 1898 and in 1901 the family lived at 537 Bury Road in Bolton. By 1911 the family had moved to 111 Bury New Road, and consisted of parents Peter aged 48, an iron moulder and bell ringer at the Parish church with his wife Catherine, 43 years and their other children:

  • Emily, 20 yrs
  • Ethel, 18 yrs
  • Mary, 16 yrs
    John, 14 yrs
  • Florence, 10 yrs
  • Hilda, 8 yrs
  • Ellen, 4 yrs

Alfred aged 12 was shown as a scholar and a newsboy, so had a task which earned him a few pennies outside of school, when he eventually became old enough to work his occupation was recorded as a joiner and builder.

When war broke out in 1914 aged 16 years and 4 months and all of 5’3 3/4 “ tall ‘Alf ’ signed up for the 2/5th Bn of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. His address now listed as 87 Bury New Road together with his occupation and C of E religion, his mother Mrs C Nuttall is shown as next of kin.

He enlisted on 7th November 1914 for the duration of the war, and is engaged in home service for 2 years and 336 days, during this time he transferred between battalions quite frequently, he moved from the 2/5th to a provisional Bn and onto the 4th (Reserve) Bn.

It is during this particular phase of his service that he begins to have ‘run ins’ with authority. Whilst training at Oswestry he is confined to barracks on five separate occasions over a 10 month period resulting in 21 days CB for various infractions ranging from being late for parade, untidy quarters and insubordination to an NCO.

Eventually on 8th October 1917 he is part of the B.E.F. and sent to France, the day later he is posted to the 10th battalion. This battalion during October was at Willibeke Camp and Tower Hamlets, and eventually off to Ypres where their camp was described as ‘damnable’, it was however licked into shape and they received an extra 135 other ranks on the 22nd of the month. Presumably Alf was one of this number and now engaged in the routine tasks of road construction, working parties, inspections and church parades. The battalion had received its baptism of fire but it was to be short lived, as on the 19th February 1918 it was notified that it was ‘surplus to requirements’ and was to become an entrenching battalion, their war diary closes on 21st February 1918.

On 30th March 1918 he transfers to 2/4th battalion who are stationed at Wez Macquart, he is one of 87 replacements arriving that day bringing the strength of the battalion to 42 officers 889 OR’s. On this day reports the war diary, it was quiet with a fair amount of enemy aerial activity taking place between 06.30 – 12.00 hrs these were engaged but none of the planes were seen to come down.

During the month of April his battalion is marching between billets, eventually they settle and by 10th May 1918 are positioned in the old British lines east of Fonquevillers and engaged in working parties around Beer Trench. Whilst serving here at the front is when Pte Nuttall is amongst those gassed on 11th May 1918 by enemy shelling of the British lines.

The War Diary for this day contains the following written account:

Beer Trench, Fonquevillers “Working parties Julius Point and Rum Trench (Gommecourt). During the morning and afternoon about 30 7.7cm & 5.6 cm shells fell in the vicinity of Right Coy and Batt H/Q. At 7pm heavy concentration of gas shells about the Batt dugouts and shelters. This continued until after 10pm, at 11.30pm men secured from Bat H/qtrs.to move the battalion to the higher ground in Stout trench.”

As a result of this attack 23 officers & 341 O.R. had been gassed. The battalion was taken out of the line for the next three days to attempt to recover from the devastation caused.

The attack contributed to Nuttall having a 30% disability due to the effects of gas and on 16th May 1918 he is shipped back to England and a couple of months later is placed on the strength of the 3rd Battalion. He remained on strength until 4th March 1919 and was eventually discharged surplus to military requirements suffering from the effects of the gas and emphysema.

He was issued with a Silver War Badge No: 03069 for wounds and also received the British war medal and victory medal which he signed for on 26th January 1922 at his home address 23 Oakenbottom Road, Bolton.

After the war he had grown in height to over 5’9” and applied to join the County Borough of Bolton Police Force, he was accepted and on 1st May 1924 he was appointed as Police Constable 179.

In the Watch Committee Minutes of Wednesday 18th June 1924 probationer PC 179 Nuttall received a reward of 10/- (ten shillings) for his meritorious conduct on the 6th June for the rescue of a child from a moving motor lorry in the town. He also wore the Merit Badge on the lower right sleeve of his tunic.

He had married Doris Openshaw and they had settled into their home at Halliwell, Bolton, where they had begun a family.

He enjoyed a thirty year career in which he became respected as the Summons & Warrants officer of the detective department. With service spanning WWII he earned the Defence Medal and a Bolton Borough police long service medal for 20 years’ service with an additional 25 year bar in 1949. The police medal although correctly dated 19.7.1944 was only presented in November 1948 at a ceremony performed by the Mayor and Watch Committee together with Chief Constable.

His police service extended beyond the date of the inception of the national police long service and good conduct medal in 1951 which replaced the local authority medal issues and thus qualified for a George VI issue of police LSGC, a combination of only 48 issued to the old borough force. His full medal group were recently on display at the Bolton Museum, who now house them.

He retired from the police on 30th April 1954 and his full police service file is still extant at the Manchester Police Museum. Alf survived his wife for only a few months and passed away in October 1973.

Additional Information: His older brother was Staff Sgt Fitter 710160 John ‘Jack’ Nuttall DCM of 211th (East Lancs) Bde Royal Field Artillery (T.F.) also of 23 Oakenbottom Road, Breightmet. He earned the Distinguished Conduct Medal at Cambrai in November 1918 for keeping his gun ‘in action’ under heavy shell fire, he had seen service in Egypt the Dardanelles and Palestine before going over to France in January 1917.

Garry Farmer
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