Date of Death:13/09/1916
Cemetery:Corbie Communal Cemetery Extension
Grave Ref:Plot 2. Row C. Grave 94.
photo courtesy of Len
British Infantry advancing, Battle of Ginchy September 9th 1916 © IWM
Much much greater losses were to come a month later on September 9th during the Battle of Ginchy. The battalion's casualties that day were 16 officers (from the 19 who went over the top) and 334 other ranks. After a period of rest the unit had on September 7th taken up positions in a trench system lying between Delville Wood, Trones Wood and Ginchy. Two days later the 164th Infantry Brigade, to which the 2nd/5th belonged, was ordered to join an attack of the 16th (Irish) Division on Ginchy by capturing positions known as Ale Alley and Pint Trench which lay to the north west of that village. The Battalion was to make up the second and third waves of the Brigade's attack.
The plan involved first attacking and capturing a position known as Hop Alley which lay halfway between the starting line and Ale Alley and then veer slightly to the right to then capture Pint Trench. The attack proved to be very costly and characterised by great confusion. After a bombardment lasting 45 minutes the attack began at 17:30. The first wave of the attack, consisting of men of the 1st/4th Loyal North Lancs, seem to have stumbled into a disused and unmapped trench and believing it to be their objective halted there. This made it impossible for the North Lancs support company to leave their trenches which then impacted upon the men of the 2nd/5th Lancashire Fusiliers who now had no trench to assemble in. They were forced to deploy in the open and came under a barrage from the German artillery as soon as the British bombardment had ceased. Upon advancing the Lancashire Fusiliers were met by heavy machine gun fire from both ends of Ale Alley and could make no progress. Farther to the right the third wave attempting to reach Pint Trench fared no better. The brigade's attack was a failure but these men of the 2nd/5th in the third wave did manage to establish a line which joined up with the more successful attack at Ginchy to their right and was several hundred yards in advance of the previous British line. But it was a shattered battalion that held and then consolidated this line. More casualties were suffered,under three days of constant shelling, before the unit was relieved on September 13th. Alfred Hamer had been one of the many injured and passed away from his wounds on September 13th. Ernest Watson, his pal from back home in Castleton, was one of those killed on September 9th - the Rochdale Observer later reported that Ernest had been buried by a shell.
Around about ten days after Alfred's death his parents received official notification that he had died. At this time the family had only recently heard of the death of Alfred's cousin, Fred Hamer, in action on August 30th. On the evening of Sunday October 1st a service was held at the Congregational Church in Castleton in memory of Alfred, Ernest Watson and the son of the Reverend, Gilbert Golding who had also recently been killed.
At some time between Alfred's death and the first anniversary of it, his parents moved to Royton and were at 72 Albert Street in September 1917. By the following year they had moved to Southport although Alfred's Aunt Alice and her family remained in Royton. Although probably never having lived in Royton, Alfred's name was placed upon the town's war memorial on Tandle Hill which is clearly visible from Castleton.
A series of memorial notices were posted in memory of Albert in the Rochdale Observer
15th September 1915
In loving memory of our dear son,Private Alfred Hamer, 2/5th Lancashire Fusiliers,
died of wounds received in action September 13th 1916.
Sad was the shock,one year today,
When God called our dear son away.
The trial is hard,but we will not complain,
But trust in God to meet again.
Perhaps some comrade breathed a prayer.
Though we are here our hearts are where
Our gallant son doth lie.
The brightest flower, the sweetest joy
Went from our home when but a boy.
From his sorrowing Father and Mother.
72 Albert Street, Royton
Oh,how oft it comes before us,
Thy dear face, so fond and true;
Resting now in peace with Jesus,
Loving hearts remember you.
From Grandma and Uncle Fred
Oh,God,how mysterious and strange are Thy ways,
To take our dear nephew in the best of his days;
Some time, some day, we shall understand,
When we all meet again in the better land.
From Aunt Alice, Cousins Alice and Albert
Albert Street, Royton
His smiling face and kindly ways
Are pleasant to recall;
He had a loving word for each,
And died beloved by all.
From Aunt Alice,Uncle Ben and Cousin Ben
Too far away from sight and speech,
Yet not too far for my thoughts to reach.
From his Cousin,Private J.Greenwood (Hislop
War Hospital,India) and Susie
14th September 1918
In loving memory of Private Alfred Hamer, the only son of Mr and Mrs
Hamer, Castleton, died of wounds and was interred at Corbie Cemetery,
France,Sept 13th 1916.
Two years have passed, our hearts still sore;
As time goes on we miss him more.
What we have lost heaven hath gained,
One of the best this earth contained.
From Father and Mother
23 King Street Southport.
In our lonely hours of thinking
Thoughts of you are ever near
From Grandmother and Uncle Fred
His warfare o'er, his battle fought,
His victory won, though dearly bought
His fresh young life could not be saved,
He slumbers now in a soldier's grave.
From Aunt Alice,Uncle Ben and Cousin Ben;
also his cousin Private J.Greenwood (Hislop War Hospital,India)
and Aunt Susie
The men of the 2nd/5th Battalion of the Lancashire Fusiliers who were killed in action on September 9th 1916 were:
ASHWORTH LEONARD Private 204119 from Rochdale
ASHWORTH SAMUEL Private 204132 from Rochdale
ASHWORTH TATTERSALL 25 Private 201484 from Bury
AUTY WILLIAM 35 Private 3345 from Bury
BARCROFT JOHN Private 7676 from Waterfoot,Lancs
BARKER RICHARD 30 Private 2460 from Bury
BARON JOHN 33 Private 204080 from Darwen
BARRATT FRED Private 202473 from Middleton
BAXTER JAMES 21 Private 204067 from Clayton-le-Moors
BECK JOHN 18 Private 201638 from Bury
BENNETT JOHN Private 203988 from Blackburn
BRINE FRANK 20 Private 202492 from Rochdale
BUCKLEY JAMES Private 202499 from Middleton
BUTTERWORTH HUBERT Private 201878 from Bury
CARNEY JOHN 34 Private 4834 born Co.Mayo,enlisted Heywood
CATLOW ROBERT Private 7697 from Blackburn
CLARK FREDERICK 26 Private 204112 from Middleton
DALTON ALFRED 23 Private 201040 from Bury
DAVIES THOMAS 33 Private 3718 enlisted Bury
DAVY WALTER Private 204044 from Nelson
DAWSON BEN Private 202471 born Middleton,enlisted Rochdale
DOLPHIN FRANK Lance Serjeant 2495 born Tottington,enlisted Bury
DUNNING WILLIAM 31 Private 204079 from Barnoldswick
EATOUGH JOHN Private 2681 from Bury
EDMUNDSON JOHN Private 203912 from Blackburn
ELSOM EDWARD 20 Private 201448 from Boston,Lincs
ESSEX PERCY 21 2nd Lt from London
FAIRBURN EDWARD Private 204153 from Rochdale
FENWICK JAMES Private 202073 from Bury
GARRETT DAVID Private 7640 from Blackburn
GILLOW JOHN 30 Private 2498 from Bury
GORE JAMES Private 201783 born Haydock,enlisted Bury
GREENHALGH WILLIAM Private 3124 born Radcliffe,enlisetd Bury
GRIFFITHS THOMAS 18 Private 7595 from Blackburn
HACKLEY LEONARD 21 Private 2346 from Bury
HAMPSON SAMSON Private 25234 from Radcliffe
HARGREAVES EDWIN 29 Private 204062 from Blackburn
HARWOOD GEORGE Private 203938 enlisted Darwen
HASLAM EDWARD Private 4616 enlisted Bury
HILL WILLIAM Private 204123 from Castleton
HILTON HOLLAND 20 Lance Corporal 3123 from Radcliffe
HILTON SAM Private 201739 from Radcliffe
HOLDEN THOMAS 33 Serjeant 2733 from Bury
HOLLINRAKE JESSE Private 204105 from Todmorden
HOLMES HENRY Private 7743 from Middleton
HOWARTH LEONARD Private 7759 from Middleton
HURST CHARLES 20 Private 201766 from Bury
INGHAM WILLIAM Private 204087 from Rochdale
KANE JAMES Private 201644 born Dublin,enlisted Bury
KENDERDINE TOM Lieutenant
KIERNAN FRED Private 201086 born Radcliffe,enlisted Bury
LAVIN JOHN Private 32297 from Littleborough
LIVESEY HENRY Private 7655 from Blackburn
LYNCH THOMAS 27 Private 201840 from Bury
LYTHGOE AARON Private 4874 enlisted Atherton
MACDONALD WILLIAM Private 200983 born Ramsbottom,enlisted Bury
MARSHALL WILLIE 19 Private 204141 from Todmorden
MARSLAND RICHARD Private 204142 enlisted Rochdale
MELLOWS JOHN 19 Private 201516 from Bury
MORAN FREDERICK Private 7611 from Blackburn
MURFITT WILLIAM 25 Private 1346 from Bury
McKAY JAMES 29 Military Medal Serjeant 2523 from Ramsbottom
NATION JOHN Private 201989 enlisted Bury
NEWSHAM JAMES Distinguished Conduct Medal Serjeant 2946 from Bury
NUTTALL JOHN Private 3339 from Heywood
NUTTALL WILLIAM Private 201368 enlisted Bury
PARTINGTON FRANK 24 Private 2358 from Radcliffe
PEARSON ALFRED 22 Serjeant 3074 from Bury
PICKERING ARTHUR Private 203962 from Blackburn
PINDER THOMAS Serjeant 3156 from Radcliffe
PRESTON JAMES Private 203923 from Blackpool
REDFERN JOHN 21 Private 200363 from Radcliffe
RIDER CLIFFORD Private 204018 born Wakefield,enlisted Blackburn
ROBERTS ALBERT Private 7705 from Accrington
SCHOFIELD RICHARD Private 202495 from Rochdale
SENNETT INGHAM Private 202479 from Halifax
SHAW LEONARD Private 202024 from Bury
SHEPHERD GEORGE Private 2794 from Bury
SMITH JOSEPH Serjeant 200928 from Bury
SUNTER JAMES Private 204053 from Nelson
TAYLOR J Private 204077
TAYLOR WALTER 23 Private 4567 from Bury
TIERNEY JAMES 32 Private 204163 from Salford
TIGHE ARTHUR 24 Drummer 204162 from Salford
TURNBULL JOHN 27 Private 4892 from Ramsbottom
UNSWORTH HARRY Private 2757 from Bury
WALKER SAMUEL Lance Corporal 1910 from Summerseat
WALLBANK JOHN 21 Private 203978 from Clitheroe
WALTON JOSEPH 21 Private 7580 from Blackburn
WARING HERBERT 30 Private 7699 from Blackburn
WATSON ERNEST Private 7774 from Castleton
WROE ROBERT Private 200597 from Bury
YATES ROBERT 22 Private 204025 from Accrington
Dying between the 10th and 13th September, either from their wounds or whilst holding the line were:
ARKWRIGHT JAMES Private 7539 from Blackburn
BROUGHTON FREDERICK 21 Private 201016 from Bury
BUTCHER JOHN Private 7625 from Darwen
CARROLL FRANK 32 Private 201442 from Salford
COOPER JOSEPH Private 203975 from Blackburn
GEE ARTHUR 24 Private 3078 from Heywood
HEDLEY JOSEPH 35 Captain from Whalley
HUSSEY JAMES Private 204154 from Todmorden
JACKSON WILLIAM Private 4501 from Croyden,enlisted Bury
KILLELEA JOHN 30 Private 2563 from Bury
LOVELL HARRY Private 204027 from Colne
LOWE FOSTER 32 Private 201143 from Heywood
MADEN HAROLD 23 Private 204060 from Blackburn
MIDDLEBROOK JAMES 28 Private 203993 from Blackburn
ODDIE ERNEST 19 Private 201971 from Bury
RILEY BUTTERWORTH Private 2789 from Bury
SKIRROW HENRY 20 Private 7660 born Colne,enlisted Nelson
SMITH JOHN Private 2076 from Heywood
THORNBER RICHARD 37 Private 7714 from Clitheroe
TURNER JOHN 27 Private 3122 from Bury
WALSH JAMES Private 4328 from Bury
WILKINSON NELSON 36 Private 203920 from Blackburn
Alfred Hamer was born in Castleton on October 15th 1897, the only child of Edward (an Iron Turner) and Sarah. It would seem that Alfred spent his civilian life living in Castleton and probably never lived in Royton. At the time of the 1901 census the Hamers were living at 44 Heywood Road in Castleton and by 1911 had moved to 16 Ogden Street. In 1911 Alfred, at the time 13 years old, was working as a piecer in a cotton mill but later he became an apprentice moulder at the works of Messrs.Tweedales and Smalley. Tweedales & Smalley was a manufacturer of textile machinery in Castleton. Alfred was a member of the Sunday School of the Congregational Church in Castleton and also featured for it's football team.
Alfred enlisted, underage, in the army when he was still 16 years old - in late September 1914. Joining up with him was friend Ernest Watson who he played with on the Congregational Church's football team. He was originally a member of the 2nd/6th Lancashire Fusiliers. This battalion was formed as a home service unit on September 29th to replace the original local Rochdale Territorial unit - the 1st/6th Battalion who had moved out to Egypt that month and were later to fight at Gallipoli. Alfred was based at Mossborough near St Helens up until May 1915 when the 2nd/6th moved onto Crowborough in East Sussex.Further moves came in October of that year to Tunbridge Wells and then Colchester in March 1916.
Alfred and Ernest Watson were part of a draft of men who left Colchester and the 2nd/6th Lancashire Fusiliers in July 1916. At 18 years old Alfred was still too young for active service for which you had to be aged 19. Their new unit was the 2nd/5th Lancashire Fusiliers who had been formed in September 1914 to replace the original Bury Territorial unit - the 1st/5th who had gone overseas along with the Rochdale Territorials. The 2nd/5th had been the first second line territorial unit to go to France (May 1915) and also the first to go into action on any front.
Alfred's first two or three weeks with the battalion was spent out of the line carrying out training for their forthcoming introduction to the Battle of the Somme which had begun on July 1st. They went into the line on July 31st until August 5th and endured many outbursts of heavy enemy shelling. The battalion was then partially involved in an attack at Guillemont on August 9th, being given no definite role but suffering a fair few casualties, 11 men being killed.