Lewis Alexander McAfee

The following biography was written by Linda Trim. Lewis was another middle class officer; he came from a well known and revered West Kirby medical family with Scottish and Irish roots.


Lewis Alexander McAfee

Lewis Alexander McAfee

Lewis was born the third of five children to William McAfee MD GP, and Elizabeth Ellen Grant. William was from Balleymoney, County Antrim, Ireland while Elizabeth was Scottish. They married in the Kensington area of London in late 1883 and must have moved to Wirral shortly thereafter, as their first son,Williamwas born in early 1885 in West Kirby. They lived at “Cooleen” 1, Riversdale Road, West Kirby.

The 1891 Census shows that by then they had four children: William Grant, born 1885, Duncan John born in the Spring of 1886, Lewis Alexander born toward the end of 1888 and Norah born at the end of 1890. There are some published records of his life that show him as being born in Balleymoney, County Antrim, however there is a record for his birth at the General Record Office showing that he was born onthe Wirral, and on two censuses it clearly states that he was born in West Kirby, as were his two older brothers.

Sadly, his mother, Elizabeth died on February 27th 1893, probably as a result of childbirth. Susan Elizabeth, the McAfees’ last child died in September 1893 aged six months.  Lewis attended Calday Grange Grammar School in West Kirby, then Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh where he represented his school in the rugby XV. After leaving Merchiston Castle School he attended Pembroke College Cambridge where he obtained his BA, and he then went to London Hospital to continue his medical studies.

The McAfee Family at Home at "Cooleen", Riversdale Road, West Kirby in 1911. Typically for a family of this class, they employ two domestic servants who originate from North Wales.

The McAfee Family at Home at “Cooleen”, Riversdale Road, West Kirby in 1911. Typically for a family of this class, they employ two domestic servants who originate from North Wales.

On the outbreak of war in August 1914 he joined the Pembroke College School of Instruction under Major Comber. He was gazetted 2nd  Lieut. of the 8th Rifle Brigade on 9th September 1914 and promoted to Lieutenant on the following 7th December. He was in A company which arrived in France on 20 May 1915. When his commanding officer was killed on 2 July 1915 Lewis became Company Commander and was promoted to Captain in July 1915.


Cap Badge of the 8th Rifle Brigade

Cap Badge of the 8th Rifle Brigade


Lewis McAfee's Medal Card

Lewis McAfee’s Medal Card

On 29 July 1915 the 8th Rifle Brigade moved out of Ypres to relieve the 7th Rifle Brigade in the trenches at Hooge. By 2.00am on the 30th the changeover was complete. The trenches here were sometimes as close as fifteen yards apart and at 3:15 am the Germans attacked and parts of the British front line were engulfed in flame and smoke as the result of a new German weapon. A and B Companies sustained heavy losses whilst C Company was completely annihilated. 

Lewis McAfee as he appeared in the "Deeside Advertiser" of 6th August 1915

Lewis McAfee as he appeared in the “Deeside Advertiser” of 6th August 1915

The 8th was relieved on the 31st but by then it had lost 342 men killed and injured, and 132 missing. Their officers fared even worse losing 19 of 24: six killed, three missing and ten wounded. Lewis Alexander McAfee was one of the missing. Missing in this case was synonymous with burned to death.  His body was never found. 

McAfee Family Grave, St. Bridget's Church Yard, West Kirby

McAfee Family Grave, St. Bridget’s Church Yard, West Kirby

He is remembered on the family grave at St. Bridget’s West Kirby, Grange Hill War Memorial, Calday Grange Grammar School and at the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres, Belgium.

Both of Lewis’ brothers were in the Royal Army Medical Corps, Duncan John  winning the Military Cross.


Birth: October 1888 in West Kirby

Death: 29th July 1915 Hooge, Flanders, Belgium

Address: “Cooleen” 1, Riversdale Road, West Kirby

Occupation: Medical Student

Unit: 8th Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort’s Own)

Rank: Captain

Medals: Victory, British and 15 Star

Commemorated: St. Bridget’s West Kirby, Belgium: Menin Gate Memorial, Calday Grange Grammar School Honour Board.

Sources:  BN, BR, CG, CWGC, DA, DR, GH,LG, MC, WK, Pembroke College Cambridge


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