Thompson, Alfred Henry. Died 17th Jul 1917

Alfred Henry Thompson was born in the winter of 1882 at Newbold on Avon, fifth of the seven children of Thomas and Jane (nee Webb) Thompson. He was baptised at St. Boloph’s, Newbold on Avon on 10 December, 1882. Thomas Thompson, of Newbold married Jane Webb, of Dunchurch at St. Peter’s Dunchurch on 30 September, 1873. They lived at Newbold until at least December 1884. Thomas’s occupation is stated as labourer. From 1884 onwards he was a railway servant, said to be a horse shunter in 1891 and a railway drayman in 1901. The family had moved away from Newbold, being at Little Pennington Street, Rugby in 1891, Abbey Street, Rugby in 1901 and New Street, New Bilton in 1911. By the time of the 1911 census Alfred Henry Thompson had married and was living at 44, Union Street, Rugby, with his wife, Annie Elizabeth (nee Curtlin) and their first son, William Henry, also stepson Archibald Frank Pittham (from Annie’s first marriage). Annie was from Thurlaston and married Alfred Henry at St. Peter’s, Dunchurch on 21 July, 1906. One further child was born in January 1912 – Walter Sydney. Following Alfred’s death in 1917, Annie married a third and final time, to Frederick Charles Pope (b.1875 – d.1948). They were still living at Union street in 1917. At the time he joined up Alfred was working for the British Petroleum Company, who had a depot in the town.

Walter Sydney Thompson emigrated to Western Australia in 1952 with his wife, Louisa (nee Kirby) and three children, and mother, Annie Elizabeth. Annie died in Western Australia in 1982 at the age of 96. Walter died in 1993.

William Henry Thompson, the first son, born 1907 in Rugby, remained there and died in 1969.

Archibald Frank Pittham, the stepson, fully supported by Alfred Henry, was born at Dunchurch in 1904, and died at Northampton in 1968, having moved there with his wife and two children prior to the second world war.

Alfred attested at Rugby on 11 December, 1915. Described as aged 33 years and 1 month, a labourer and never having served in H.M. forces before. Held on reserve until September 1916, his attestation had been approved in February, 1916, at No. 3 Depot, Hilsea barracks, Portsmouth, and appointed to the Royal Regiment of Royal Horse and Royal Field Artillery, number 164470. He joined the No. 3 Depot as Gunner in September, 1916. Transferred to the infantry as a private in November, he finally transferred to the Durham Light Infantry as a private in January, 1917 and posted to France on the 11 January, 1917 as part of the British Expeditionary Force. Initially with the 15th D.L.I. At this time the 13th Durham Light Infantry were at the front near Ypres. The weather was poor. Very cold with rain and snow.

In July Alfred was with the 13th D.L.I., who on 6th July relieved the 8th King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry at HILL 60 only 4500 metres from Ypres. This position was repeatedly fought over. It had been gained in the June during the battle of Messines, and remained in British control until April 1918. Alfred was in “D” Company of the 13th D.L.I. who were deployed at the front line, east of HILL 60. The 12th Battalion Durham Light Infantry relieved the 13th D.L.I. on the 10th July, who withdrew to Micmac camp, West of Dickebusch. In the period 7 July to 12 July, nine members of the 13th D.L.I. died. Six of whom have no known grave. Alfred Henry Thompson died after this period of fighting. He reached No.3 Canadian Casualty Clearing Station, at Remy sidings, 9000m west of Micmac, 20000m from the Ypres Salient. He is recorded in the Canadian C.C.S. war diary as dying on the 16th (all other records state 17th) of July of gun shot wounds to arm and side. Other records states left arm, and lung damage.

He was buried in the adjoining Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery. Unlike the graves of many of his comrades, his was not disturbed by shelling or fighting.

He was entitled to receive the Victory and British War medals. These were delivered to his widow in November 1921.



Course, Alfred Leslie. Died 16th Sep 1916

Sergt. Alfred Leslie Course
Service No. 25927
Regiment     Durham Light Infantry
10th Battalion
Cemetery/Memorial Name: Thiepval Memorial
Grave/Memorial Reference: Pier and Face 14A and 15C

Alfred Leslie Course was born 24th February 1894 at Slapton, Northamptonshire and was baptised 21st April 1894 at Slapton Church. His parents were Alfred and Mary Augusta Course, and Alfred’s father was a miller. Alfred was the first son to Alfred and Mary having two older daughters Frances and Gladys, to be joined later by George, Violet, Mildred, Kathleen and Philip. On the 1901 Census the family are living at Mill House, Slapton, Northamptonshire, by 1911 the family are at 25 Manor Road, Rugby, also on the censuses Alfred is named by his second Christian name Leslie, obviously that is the name the family used for him. By 1911 Alfred has become a Grocer’s Assistant and his brother George is a clerk at the B.T.H. At the start of the war Alfred enlisted in a Hussar Regiment and was transferred to the Durham Light Infantry when he went to France in August 1915. He was wounded at Ypres and spent some time in hospital. Alfred became a sergeant just before his death. The announcement of his death is in the Rugby Advertiser 7th October 1916 under War Notes

“Sergt. A. L. Course killed. Mr Alfred Course of 25 Manor Road, Rugby has been informed by a letter from the front that his eldest son was killed. Sergt. Albert Leslie Course of the Durham Light Infantry was killed in the battle of the Somme last month while in charge of a machine gun section.   Sergt. Course, who was 22 years of age, prior to the war was employed at Messrs Lavender & Harrison’s, with whom he had been five years. He enlisted in a Hussar Regiment at the commencement of the war and was transferred to his present regiment when he was drafted to France in August last year.   He was wounded at Ypres in March last, and was nine weeks in a hospital. He also received a card from the Major-General commanding his division, in recognition of his distinguished and gallant conduct in the field in February 1916.   In letter announcing his death, the officer says “He was a splendid fellow, and had just been promoted Sergeant.   He gave all his heart to his work” He was a native of Slapton Mill near Towcester.”

Rugby Advertiser 14th October 1916 under Deaths

On September 16th 1916 killed in action Sergt. A. L. Course the beloved son of Alfred Course 25 Manor Road Rugby aged 22 years.

Rugby Advertiser 22nd September 1917 under Memoriam

Course: In loving memory of our dear son and brother Sergt. A. L. Course who was killed in action in France September 16 1916.
“Farewell, dear son in a soldier’s grave
A grave we may never see,
But as long as life and memory lasts
We will remember thee”

From the Army Registers of Soldiers Effects Albert’s father received £19 1s 9d and later received a gratuity of £11 10s.

Alfred Leslie Course has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thievpal Memorial in France and on the Rugby Memorial Gates Hillmorton Road Rugby.