Bombardier Alfred Williamson, L/11933, "F" Anti-Aircraft Battery, Royal Field Artillery
Alfred Williamson was born on the 20th April 1884 in Ossett and baptised at Christ Church, South Ossett on the 25th January 1885. He was the son of Wakefield born tailor Robert Henry Williamson and Ossett girl Ann Emma (nee Firth) born 1857, who had married in early 1878 in the Dewsbury Registration District. He was the fourth child of six and the youngest son. The Williamson family as follows: William Henry b. 1879 in Ossett; Annie b. 1880 in Ossett; Edith b. 1882 in Ossett; Alfred b. 1884 in Ossett; Lilian b. 1888 in Ossett and Alice b. 1890 in Ossett.
It is possible that Alfred's father Robert Henry (or Harry as he was known) died at the early age of 35 years in 1891, but no record has been found of his death and it is also possible that he deserted his wife and six children to move abroad or assume a new name.
Ann Emma Williamson married David Barstow in early 1899 in the Dewsbury Registration District using her maiden name of Emma Firth. She married at the same time her daughter Annie Williamson married coal miner Tom Mann.
Above: 1938 Ordnance Survey map showing Victoria Street, South Ossett (marked with the purple cross) where Alfred Williamson lived some of his life.
In 1901, Ann Emma with new husband David Barstow is now living in Victoria Street, Ossett with the three youngest children from her marriage to Robert Henry Williamson: Alfred is now 16 years old and working as a hurrier in a coal mine; Lilian aged 12 years and Alice aged 11 years. Also there is new son Wilfred Barstow aged 1 year. Also living with them is 26-year-old Stocksbridge born coal miner Tom Mann who had married Ann Emma's daughter Annie Williamson in early 1899. They have a son Joseph Mann aged one year.
It is worth noting here that Alfred's half brother Wilfred Barstow (16th April 1899 - 20th November 1958) was the father of famous Horbury and Ossett novelist Stan Barstow who was born in 1928.
Alfred Williamson's mother Ann Emma Barstow sadly died in January 1916 at the age of 58 years while he was serving with the British Army overseas on the Western Front.
In the Spring months of 1906, Alfred Williamson had married Stella Bradley Lindsay in the Dewsbury Registration District. Stella was born on the 4th November 1884 in Ossett to spinster Martha Lindsay. At Christ Church, South Ossett on the 7th November 1887 Martha Lindsay married 26-year-old tailor Joseph Bradley who either adopted Stella or may have been her biological father.
After their marriage coal miner Alfred and his wife Stella were living at 34, Manor Road, Ossett. By 1911, there were two children to their marriage: Martha Ann born 14th October 1907 in Horbury and Amy born 5th November 1909 in Ossett. Another son, Frederick was born on the 11th February 1915 in Wakefield.
Alfred Williamson enlisted in Wakefield in 1915, joining the Royal Field Artillery as a bombardier and embarked for France on the 30th December 1915. He later joined "F" Anti-Aircraft Battery of the R.F.A. although the vast majority of Anti-Aircraft Battery crews were in the Royal Garrison Artillery.
Above: British 13 pounder Anti-Aircraft Gun mounted on a 'Peerless' truck, in action at Omiecourt.
Bombardier Alfred Williamson was killed in action on the 19th August 1917 during the aftermath of the Battle of Langemarck that was fought from the 16th to 18th August 1917 as part of the Third Battle of Ypres or Battle of Passchendaele. On the higher ground, the Germans continued to inflict many losses on the British divisions beyond Langemarck, but on the 19th August 1917, after two fine dry days, XVIII Corps conducted a novel infantry, tank, aircraft and artillery operation. German strongpoints and pillboxes along the St Julien–Poelcappelle road in front of the Wilhelmstellung were captured.
Bombardier Alfred Williamson is buried at position IV. D. 13 at Bard Cottage Cemetery, West-Vlaanderenin, Belgium and he was posthumously awarded the British, Victory and the 1915 Star medals. His CWGC gravestone in the cemetery bears the following inscription "He gave his life that those he loved might live."
The Cemetery is located on the Diksmuidseweg road (N369) in the direction of Boezinge. From Ieper station turn left into Fochlaan and go to the roundabout, turn right and go to the next roundabout. Here turn left and drive to the next roundabout, where you should turn right into Oude Veurnestraat. Take the second turning on the left, which is the Diksmuidseweg and carry on under the motorway bridge and the cemetery is another 300 metres on the left hand side of the road. N.B. Bard Cottage Cemetery is the first cemetery on the left, the second being Talana Farm Cemetery.
For much of the First World war, the village of Boesinghe (now Boezinge) directly faced the German line across the Yser canal. Bard Cottage was a house a little set back from the line, close to a bridge called Bard's Causeway, and the cemetery was made nearby in a sheltered position under a high bank. Burials were made between June 1915 and October 1918 and they reflect the presence of the 49th (West Riding), the 38th (Welsh) and other infantry divisions in the northern sectors of the Ypres Salient, as well as the advance of artillery to the area in the autumn of 1917. There are now 1,639 Commonwealth casualties of the First World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery. 39 of the burials are unidentified but special memorials commemorate three casualties known to be buried among them.
Alfred is remembered on the Wakefield Roll of Honour and also on the Wrenthorpe Colliery War Memorial, now in the churchyard of St. John's Church, Wakefield.
"Alfred was born in Wakefield and enlisted there joining the Royal Field Artillery, Bombardier L/11933. He later worked in the Anti-Aircraft Battery and was killed in action on the 19th August 1917, aged 33 years and is remembered at Bard Cottage Cemetery, Belgium. He left a wife, Stella who lived at 13, Elba Cottages, Spring End, Horbury."
After Alfred Williamson's death, his widow Stella remarried miner and widower Hector Tuke Lamb (b. 1886 in Bradford) in July 1918 at Wakefield. Hector Lamb had survived WW1 after active service in 1/4th Battalion, K.O.Y.L.I. The couple had two children: Stella b. 1920 and Miriam b. 1924. both in Wakefield. Stella Lamb lived on to 1970, but Hector Lamb died in 1938.
Alfred Williamson's name was quietly added to the Ossett War Memorial with little or no notice in October 2023.
1. Ancestry Family Trees for Alfred Williamson.
2. Wikipedia - The Battle of Passchendaele