The following biographies were written by Stephen Roberts and Victoria Doran
Alfred belonged to a well-established West Kirby family. He was the second son and third child of nine, two of whom died in infancy. His surviving sisters were Mary Elizabeth, Louise, Eleanor May (“Nellie”) and Alice. Using his service records and baptism entry, we can calculate that Alfred must have been born on 22nd December 1887 in West Kirby. His parents, William Hatton, a general labourer (1861-1903), and Mary Jane Lewis (born in 1860) were both from West Kirby and married in St. Bridget’s Church in 1882. Alfred’s only younger brother, William, was killed in 1918. Alfred and he both appear on a family gravestone in St. Bridget’s churchyard (pictured below). In 1891 and 1901 the family were living in West Kirby Village and in 1914, at 2 Eaton Road. Their older brother, John William, survived the War but was gassed. In 1911, Alfred was living as a lodger in the house of John and Marion Cartlidge at 14 Hilton Street, Birkenhead and he had begun his career as a grocer. By 1915, he was employed by Williams Bros. of Birkenhead.
Alfred joined 14th Battalion the Cheshire Regiment in Birkenhead on 2nd December 1915. He was described as being 5’5½” tall, as having a 36½” chest with a 3½” expansion and as weighing141lbs. He had a birth mark on the right side of his abdomen and was recorded as having good physical development. However, he had suffered from rheumatism in both knees since childhood and was not deemed fit for general service; he was, therefore, placed on the reserve list until 21st February 1916.
He embarked for France at Folkestone on 15th June 1916, by which time he had been posted to the 10th Cheshires and arrived on the Western Front 11 days later. This was just in time for the monstrous British attack on the Somme which began on 1st July. Alfred’s battalion was part of 7th Brigade, 25th Division, which did not ”go over the top” on the 1st, but was, according to Arthur Crookenden in his History of the Cheshire Regiment in the Great War, “used up and destroyed piecemeal” in other, later attacks.
Between 2nd and 15th July, the 10th Cheshires were in trenches near Ovillers. Crookenden said that they had “a very sticky time”; this must be when Alfred was killed, probably by “routine” enemy fire. The 10th Cheshires eventually attacked on the 12th”, when “C” Company captured an enemy trench. Alfred’s body was yet another of a local man which was never identified, which is why his name appears on the Thiepval Memorial to the missing.
Death: 10th July 1916, killed in action aged 27
Address: 2 Eaton Road, West Kirby
Units: 14th and 10th Battalions Cheshire Regiment
Number(s) and Rank: 35515, Private
Medals: Victory and British War
Commemorated and Buried: GH, WK, StB, France: Somme, Thiepval Memorial, Pier and Face 3C and 4A
Sources: BR, CWGC, SDGW, MC, SR, GB, DA, FT, Census: 01, 11
William was born early in 1893 and was baptised at St Bridget’s Church on 6 March 1893. He was the youngest son of the above mentioned William Hatton and Mary Jane Lewis and brother to Alfred.
Unfortunately William’s service records do not exist, so we do not know exactly when he joined the 1st Battalion of the West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales Own), but he did not serve abroad before 1916 as he did not merit the 15 Star medal. According to newspaper reports he had joined the forces at the beginning of the war, but had only served about twelve months in France before his death on 15 September 1918.
He was one of the true heroes, winning the Military Medal for his ‘gallant conduct in the field on 9 August 1918, continuing the attack with his section after being wounded in the chest’.
However he probably never received the medal as he died on 15 September 1918. He was hit in three places in the early morning by pieces of a shell and died at the Field Ambulance during the day. This section of an article which appeared in the Deeside Advertiser of 27th September 1918 contains extracts from letters written by an army chaplain and William’s officer in which they describe his personality in a bit more detail:
Birth: 1893; baptised 6 Mar 1893 St Bridget
Death: 15th September 1918; died of wounds aged 25
Addresses: (01) 14 Village Road, West Kirby; (11) Old Village Road, West Kirby; (15) 2 Eaton Road, West Kirby
Occupation: assistant on farm Units: 1st Bn. West Yorkshire Regiment
Number and Rank: 54409; Corporal
Medals: Military Medal, Victory and British War
Commemorated and Buried: GH, WK, StB. France: Trefcon Military Cemetery Caulancourt
Sources: BR, CWGC, MC, SR, GB, BN, DA, FT, PR, Census: 01, 11