Alfred Ernest and Arthur Skelhorne Lally

The following biographies were written by Carol Hunter and Stephen Roberts.

I was very keen to write about these two men as one of their sisters married my great grandmother’s brother and I therefore feel a certain, albeit distant, connection to them.

Introduction to the Lally Family

Patrick Christopher Lally was born in about 1851 in Galway, Ireland and we first find him at the time of his marriage to Ellen Skelhorne on 4th November 1875 at St James’ in Latchford, Cheshire, where Ellen was born. Patrick’s father John was described as a shepherd and Ellen’s father John as a basket maker. In 1881 Patrick, employed as a signalman on the railway, and Ellen are living at 7 Woodger St, Garston with their three children: Ada Beatrice b1877, James born in 1879 and Margaret Ellen born in 1880. 

In 1891 the five of them are still at the same address; Patrick was working as a tramway pointsman and James was employed as a grocer’s assistant. The family had grown and there were also four younger children: Elizabeth Grace (b1883), Arthur Skelhorne (b1885), Frank Christopher (b1887) and Alfred Arthur Ernest (b1889). There had also been another son, John Skelhorne (b1881) but who sadly died the following year.

In 1901 Patrick was employed as a pointsman on electric cars and he and Ellen were living at 44 Greenwood St, Everton with five of their sons: Arthur, who was a grocer’s shop boy, Frank an office boy for a fruit merchant and also Alfred, Thomas (b1891) and David Henry Douglas (b1897). Ellen died in 1904 and Patrick sometime before 1914 although I have not been able to ascertain exactly when. 

In 1911 Ada is living at 1 South Road, West Kirby, having married Douglas McAlvin Owen, a painter from West Kirby, on 11th May 1896 at St Bridget’s. They had 7 children, the youngest being Alfred Arthur born in 1919 and probably named after Ada’s 2 deceased brothers. Ada died in 1939 and she, Douglas and Alfred Arthur are all buried at St Bridget’s.

James was the first of the Lally boys to join the military and his short service attestation of 1897 names his parents and siblings; he was discharged at his own request 2 years later upon payment of £18. He married Charlotte Hughes in 1900 and in 1911 we find them living at 9 Jubilee Road, Litherland with their 4 children: Arthur, James, Amy and William. Like is father James found employment as a tramway motorman.

Margaret married James Burns, a fisherman from Flookburgh, Lancashire, at St Bridget’s in West Kirby in 1899. Interestingly James’ brother Edward married Eleanor Owen, sister of Douglas who married Ada Lally. In 1901 Margaret and James were living at 11 Rudd St, Hoylake with their daughter Elizabeth; by 1911 they are at 6 York Avenue, West Kirby with 2 more children: Annie and James. At this time Elizabeth Lally is living in Limpsfield, Surrey where she is working as a domestic nurse.

Frank married Eliza Jane Hawkins in 1911 and at the time of the census they are living at 8 Greenwood St, Liverpool where Frank was working as a parcel delivery goods clerk. Frank’s short service attestation of 1915 names three children: Frank, Olive and Lilian. Frank served in the Royal Field Artillery, survived the war and died in 1933. In 1911 we find Thomas Lally at the Royal Navy Barracks, Keyham, Devonport, where he is described as a stoker. Sadly their younger brother David had died in 1905.

Alfred Ernest Lally 

As we know Alfred was born in Garston, on 28th July 1889 and baptized at St Peter’s, Liverpool on 18th September. Sometime after the 1901 census was taken he joined the military and in 1911 we find him listed as a soldier with the Loyal North Lancs at Clarence Barracks, Spithead Forts, Portsmouth.

War was declared on Tuesday 4th August 1914, following a glorious Bank holiday weekend, when Alfred’s sisters Ada and Margaret were no doubt enjoying the delights of a bustling seaside town in West Kirby. Less than two weeks later, as we see from his medal card, Alfred had disembarked and was part of the 1st Division of the British Expeditionary Force.

Cap Badge of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment

Cap Badge of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment

By European standards the peacetime British Army was very small, but what it lacked in numbers it made up for in quality. Its Regular soldiers were long-service professionals, confident in their marksmanship and discipline, and intensely proud of their Regiments. In comparison with the largely conscript continental armies, the BEF of 1914 was indeed ‘a rapier among scythes’. On account of the German Emperor’s sneering dismissal of the BEF as ‘the contemptible little British Army’ the survivors of that gallant band proudly referred to themselves as the ‘Old Contemptibles’.

By October the BEF was situated in Flanders and involved in intense combat as the Germans made desperate and repeated attempts to break through to the Channel ports. The 1st Loyal North Lancs were engaged in the epic First Battle of Ypres from 23rd October, when they made a most gallant and successful bayonet charge at the Kortekeer Cabaret. Sadly that day two officers and 35 men, including Alfred lost their lives.

Alfred Lally's Medal Card

Alfred was the first West Kirby resident to die during the war and is remembered on a beautiful plaque inside St Bridget’s church. Unfortunately his age is wrong, as he was in fact two years younger; perhaps because he was not a local man the engraver’s mistake was not noticed.

Birth: 28th July 1889
Death: 23rd Oct 1914, aged 25
Address(es): 7 Woodger St, Garston (91), 44 Greenwood St, Everton (01), Clarence Barracks, Portsmouth (11)
Occupation(s): soldier (11)
Unit(s): The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st Bn.
Number(s) and Rank: 9887 Lance Serjeant
Medals: Victory and British War
Commemorated and Buried: St Bridget’s church, West Kirby; YPRES (MENIN GATE) MEMORIAL, panel 41 and 43
Sources: CWGC, SDGW, Census: 81, 91, 01, 11, Online BMD records on Ancestry and Familysearch, Online Parish registers,


Arthur Skelhorne Lally

Arthur Lally as he Appeared in the "Birkenhead News" of 11th August 1917

Arthur Lally as he Appeared in the “Birkenhead News” of 11th August 1917

Arthur was born in Garston and was given his mother’s maiden name as his middle name; he was baptized on 19th April 1885 at St Michael’s in Garston. On 11th August 1917 the Birkenhead News reported that Arthur had emigrated to Australia in about 1905. Whilst there, he seems to have been based in the Brisbane area of Queensland and worked as a labourer and as a cook.

Arthur had an unhappy and disjointed military career: he joined the 15th Infantry Battalion of the Australian Imperial Force on 21st September 1914, but four weeks later, on 20th October asked to be discharged from the unit. His request was denied. on 3rd November he was put on a charge for “neglect of duty” (there are no more details about the actual offence) at the regimental store tent and on 7th November he was absent without leave and turned up on parade in a state of inebriation. He was discharged on 9th November. The words “not likely to become an efficient soldier” and “cancelled” were emblazoned in red across his attestation papers.

Australian Imperial Force Cap Badge

Australian Imperial Force Cap Badge


On 18th November 1914 Arthur joined the 12th Army Service Corps as a driver. He reported that he had formerly been in the 15th Infantry Battalion, but had been discharged at his own request, which was clearly, of necessity, disingenuous. He also claimed to be 30 years and 9 months old and was recorded as being 5′ 8 1/2″ tall, as weighing 135lbs and as having fair skin, grey eyes and brown hair. He claimed to be a cook by trade and to be a member of the Church of England and said that his next of kin was Mrs Douglas Owens of  West Kirby. Arthur’s career in this unit was also short: once again, he was dismissed for misconduct on 4th January 1915 and had to sign a declaration that he had no claims against the Commonwealth Forces. Again, there are no details about the precise nature of his offence.

on 15th September 1915 Arthur joined up again, this time in the 10/25th Battalion of the Australian Imperial Force with the service number 4162. He claimed to have been a labourer and to be 30 years and 6 months old (three months younger than he had been ten months earlier). He was now recorded as being 5′ 9″ tall, as weighing 10 stone and having a chest measurement of 35″ – 37″. He also had blue eyes, brown curly hair and fair skin. We get a bit of an insight into his possibly roguish nature when we read that he had a tattoo of a woman on his right forearm and of a girl’s face on his left forearm.

Hereafter, thankfully, Arthur’s conduct in the army was described as “very good”. However, the poor young man did not enjoy good health. In early 1916, he was based in Egypt, where he contracted malaria. On 30th May 1916, he sailed with his unit on board “The Tunisian” from Alexandria to Marseilles. He arrived in France on 5th June and was transferred to the Divisional Base Hospital on 11th July, suffering from Malaria. On 13th July, he was transferred to the U.K. and admitted to the Northern General Hospital the next day. On 27th July, he was diagnosed as having malaria. He then seems to have spent time in an unnamed hospital in Birkenhead before being declared “seriously ill” on 9th September 1916 at the Australian Base in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire. By now, he was suffering from phthisis or tuberculosis. His symptoms included coughing up bloody phlegm, tiredness and night sweats. His weight fell from 10 stone 4lbs to 9 stone 10lbs. Mercifully, he was discharged from the army on 29th November 1916 and headed home to live with his sister at Rose Cottage on Caldy Road in West Kirby.

Arthur Lally's Medal Card

Arthur Lally’s Medal Card

Sadly in the summer of the following year Arthur, who was living at 174a Banks Road, West Kirby, succumbed to his illness and died. His funeral at St.  Bridget’s Church was well attended and Arthur received full military honours. He is buried at St Bridget’s and the inscription on his grave reads, “He gave his all for others. His loving sister Maggie.”

Arthur Lally's Grave, St. Bridget's Church Yard, West Kirby

Arthur Lally’s Grave, St. Bridget’s Church Yard, West Kirby


Birth: 1885 in West Kirby
Death: 2nd Aug 1917, aged 32, died of illness at home
Address(es): 7 Woodger St, Garston (91), 44 Greenwood St, Everton (01), “Rose Cottage” Caldy Road, West Kirby (16), 174a Banks Road, West Kirby (17)
Occupation(s): Grocer’s Shop Boy (01), Cook (14), Labourer (15)
Unit: Australian Infantry, A.I.F. 25th Bn.
Number and Rank: 4162, Private
Medals: Victory and British War
Commemorated and Buried: WEST KIRBY (ST. BRIDGET) CHURCHYARD, 1295
Sources: BR,CWGC, SR, BN, Census: 81, 91, 01, 11, Online BMD records on Ancestry and Familysearch, Online Parish registers,


One thought on “Alfred Ernest and Arthur Skelhorne Lally

  1. Thank you, I have just stumbled over this and I think it must be my family and might have finally solved the problem of “Rose Cottage”, a place I visited when I was very young. I will be in touch shortly.
    Chris Lally

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s