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Alf GuffoggL/Cpl Alfred Guffogg was my maternal great uncle, the surname was particular to Bolton. He was born in 1889 in Tonge Fold, Bolton and was one of nine children, five boys and four girls of Francis & Mary Ellen Guffogg nee Hall. His collier father died from a mine roof collapse aged only 42 years on 25th March 1899 when Alfred was 10 and from the early age of twelve Alfred worked in the local cotton mills, first as a side piecer, then later on as a minder. His older collier brother Hiram Guffogg (1877-1915) was killed in a mine explosion at Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada on 27 May 1915.

During his early life Alfred lived at a couple of addresses in the area before the family eventually settled at 34 Hind Street, Tonge Fold, a typical red brick mid terraced house still standing today. He worked at Thomasson’s Cotton spinning mill, and was a regular worshipper at the nearby Trinity Wesleyan Chapel, Bury Road, prior to the outbreak of hostilities. The WWI brass memorial still situated on the chapel wall bears his name. He also appears on the brass memorial of St Chads Church, Tonge Fold.

Brass Plaque at Trinity Wesleyan Chapel

Brass Plaque at Trinity Wesleyan Chapel

Enlisting on the 6th November 1914 into the 5th (Home service ) Bn N. L. Regt (T.F.), number 3260, aged 25yrs 11 months, and only 5’5” in height he went to France on 27th June 1915 and was promoted L/Cpl 19th September 1916. His service number would change in early 1917 when the TF were renumbered and had he lived he would have become 241258.

He was killed in action in the late afternoon of 10th January 1917 at Wieltje, N.E. of Ypres, one officer and seven men were also killed during a daring but costly  trench raid on the enemy lines of the German 162nd Infantry Regt. The raid was a highly decorated affair, the Bolton newspaper’s reporting that 2 Military Crosses, 1 bar to the MC and 4 Military Medals were awarded for the action. However, 49 men had been wounded of which number some would die and four others were missing believed dead in this action.

He is buried in Plot V.D.10 of Vlamertinghe Military Cemetery near Ypres, his headstone carrying the private epitaph, “Just when his hopes were brightest”. He is buried alongside two of his comrades killed in the same raid, L/Cpl W.P. Meadows and Pte J. Crompton.

Alf G Vlamertinghe

From the Bolton Chronicle of 19th January 1917:

Officers Appreciation of Tonge Soldier

Another local soldier has made the great sacrifice in the person of Lance Corporal Alfred Guffogg (3260) No 7 platoon 2-5th L.N.L. Regiment. In a letter to his mother who resides at 34 Hind Street, Tonge Fold, his platoon officer says:

He had been in my platoon since I took command of it, and he was one of my best men always cheery and very keen on being soldierly and smart, he fully earned the stripe he got. Everybody liked him and thought much of him.

When I asked for volunteers for a particular piece of risky work, he was the first to respond, and it was whilst carrying out that work that he was killed.

He will be buried in the little cemetery here. My orderly was one of his greatest pals, and he tells me that they were all in all to each other. In this letter I cannot hope to tell you how deeply I regret his loss, but I hope this will help you up in your great sorrow.

You have my warmest and most real sympathy in the passing of one for whom everyone had a good word and whose last act was the greatest sacrifice man can make.

I hope that the splendidness of that sacrifice may ease the aching of your heart”.

Yours sincerely, Giles Lee, Second Lieut

His 1915 star medal trio, plaque and scroll, instead of being sent to his family were sent to a friend, presumably a sweetheart Miss Clara Taylor also a cotton minder of 567 Bury Road, Breightmet, Bolton. Clara signed for the British War Medal on 20th December 1919 and the Victory Medal 15th October 1921.

Rank: Lance Corporal
Service No: 3260
Date of Death: 10/01/1917
Age: 29
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/5th Bn.

Garry Farmer
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