Sapper Alfred M. Buckett, 480594, Royal Engineers
Alfred Mead Buckett was born in Whitby in Summer 1898 and in 1901 he was living in Ruswarp, Whitby with his parents, George Robert and Elizabeth (nee Mead) in the home of his Great Uncle, retired innkeeper, Wilson Elders. Alfred’s father, George, formerly a deckhand on board ship, was working as a dairyman and greengrocer. He and his wife, Elizabeth had five children from their marriage but, sadly, two children had died before April 1911. By this time the family had moved to Ossett and were living at 22, Dewsbury Road, where Alfred, who was aged 12 and the youngest child, was still at school.
Alfred Buckett first enlisted in October 1914 and joined the Household Cavalry (Royal Horse Guards), with service number 1824, enlisting in Leeds on the 12th October 1914. He claimed to be 18 years and 41 days of age but was two years younger and aged only 16 years . At that time his parents were living at Dorset Terrace, Harehills, Leeds. Alfred was unusually tall for his age at 5’ 9”, weighing 136 lbs with a 35” chest measurement. He had a fresh complexion, grey eyes, brown hair and his physical development was described as "good." His build and height, unusual for the time, was probably sufficient to convince the army that he was 18 years old and he was passed fit for service being declared a smart, respectable looking lad. He was posted as a Trooper with the Royal Horse Guards in London on the 13th October 1914.
Alfred was discharged on the 23rd January 1915 in consequence of his having made a mis-statement as to age on enlistment. It seems likely that he enlisted again as soon as he reached 18 years of age in early September 1916 when he joined the Royal Engineers.
Alfred’s Army service record has not survived but it is known that he enlisted at Leeds and that his residence was recorded as Ossett. He joined the Royal Engineers and became Sapper 480594 Alfred Buckett. He had previously been attached to the No. 16 Officers’ Cadet Co., Royal Engineers. His medal card also records an earlier service number of (T) 3095 indicating that he had, at some stage, served with the Territorial Force.
"Funeral of Officer-Cadet A.M. Buckett1 - The funeral of Officer-Cadet Alfreed Mead Buckett, whose death occurred at Kimmel Park Camp, Rhyl, from pneumonia, took place at Ossett on Wednesday, last week. The deceased was the youngest son of the late Mr. George Buckett, and of Mrs. Buckett, West Wells House, Ossett, and late of 4, Victoria Square, Whitby. He joined the Horse Giards in August 1914, and was later transferred to the Royal Engineers, with which he served in France up to September, returning to England to prepare for a commission. The remains were conveyed to Rhyl station on a gun-carriage, and a volley was fired over the coffin before it was placed on the train for Ossett. The funeral was of a military character. The coffin was of polished oak with brass mountings, and bore the following inscription 'Officer-Cadet Alfred Mead Buckett, aged 20, died November 9th.'
The chief mourners were Mrs. Buckett (mother) and sister-in-law, Miss Blanch Pierce (Bedford), Nurse Howard (cousin), Private A. Mead (uncle), Mrs. Herbert Smith, Mrs. Lonsdale, and the employees of Messrs. Smith Brothers and Hepworth, Ltd. There were many beautiful wreaths, including those from his Mother, George and Doris, Reg and Madge, Mr. Lawson (Sunderland), Miss Pallas (Sunderland), the employees of Messrs. Smith Brothers and Hepworth, Miss Pierce (Bedford), Doris, the officers of the deceased's battalion, and his brother officer-cadets."
At the time of his death in 1918, he had previously achieved the rank of Acting Corporal, before being accepted for officer training, quite an achievement for one so young. Alfred was posthumously awarded the British and Victory medals but not the 1914/15 Star, indicating that he had not served overseas before the 31st December 1915. He died on the 9th November 1918, just two days before the Armistice, and his death was registered at St Asaph, Denbighshire, Wales in December 1918, where he was based at Kimmel Park Camp, Rhyl for his officer cadetship. The Commonwealth War Graves Commssion records his Ossett address as West Wells Road. It is very likely that Officer-Cadet Mead died as a result of the Spanish Flu epidemic that was raging in the U.K. in 1918, which led to him contracting pneumonia.
Alfred Mead Buckett is remembered at St. John’s Methodist Church2, South Parade, Ossett on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Memorial positioned at the front of the Church, close to the gate entrance. In spite of his Ossett connections the "Ossett Observer" does not appear to have reported his death in service and Alfred was not remembered on any of the Ossett Memorials or Rolls of Honour.
Our thanks to Andrea Hartley for finding the "Whitby Gazette" obituary and the picture of Alfred Mead Buckett.
1. "Whitby Gazette" - 22nd November 1918