Date of birth: 1891
Date of death: 25.9.1916
Regiment: Northumberland Fusiliers
Family information: Husband of Sarah R Drake née Thompson
Service number: 38771
Alfred started out as Private 27963 in the KOYLI and then was transferred to Private 38771 Northumberland Fusiliers in the 11th Battalion. On 21st September the battalion was resting in Contalmaison whilst working on improving the trenches, but on 23rd they moved up into the front line and launched an attack to move forward. On 25th they were in the front-line trenches of Martinpuich facing heavy barrage and machine gun fire. Casualties that day were 1 dead and 14 wounded – presumably the dead soldier was Alfred.
His death was announced in the Wakefield Express on 28th October 1916.
“WRENTHORPE SOLDIER KILLED
Official intimation has been received that Private Alfred Drake (Northumberland Fusiliers), Potovens Lane Wrenthorpe was killed in action on September 25th.”
A memorial service was held for him at St Anne’s Church.
On the Register of Soldiers Effects his next of kin was his widow Sarah R. He was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.
Alfred Drake was the son of Frederick and Anne Drake. He was baptised on 29th July 1891 at St Anne’s Wrenthorpe and Frederick was recorded as being a rope maker living at Bunker’s Hill.
In 1901 the family were living in Potovens Lane. Alfred was 9 years old and had 3 brothers – George was a 14-year-old rag mill feeder, John William was 11 years old and Ernest was 10 months old.
By 1911 Alfred was living with his parents at Westerman’s Buildings, Potovens Lane and working as a pony driver down the mine. John William was 21 years old and a labourer in the coke ovens, while Ernest and five-year-old Edgar were at school.
This census revealed that Frederick and Anne had been married for 27 years, had 10 children but 5 of them had died. Their first-born William had died in 1887 aged 3 of ‘natural causes’ according to the inquest. Alfred had been one of twins but the other twin, Jim, had died at 13 weeks. The next three children also died – Harry (b1894) at 10 months, Herbert (b1896) at 13 months and Wilfred (b1898) at 7 months. Alfred was 10 before he had a surviving younger brother.
In 1915 Alfred married Sarah R Thompson in Wakefield District and I believe they also had a daughter, Sarah, that year too.