Alfred Jellicoe (1878 – 1917)
The Jellicoe family headstone in Neston Parish Church churchyard records that Alfred’s parents were John (died 11 April 1926 aged 86) and Mary Elizabeth Jellicoe (died 1 February 1929 aged 89) and notes that Alfred was the brother of William Jellicoe who died January 1890, aged 26.
Childhood in Neston
John Gellicoe married Mary Elizabeth Reynolds at St Nicholas church in Liverpool on 5 June 1862 and their first child, Emily Louise, was baptised at Neston parish church on 24 December 1862.
Other early children who were baptised at Neston were:
baptised 29 April 1864
baptised 6 April 1866
baptised 27 February 1868
died 30 January 1890 aged 26
buried 18 October 1872 aged 6
In 1871 Alfred’s parents were living in the High Street with their young children Emma Louise, William, Thomas Edwin and Mary Elizabeth. His mother was working as a dressmaker.
Alfred’s birth was registered in mid – 1878 and he was baptised in Neston parish church on 14th November 1879; his younger brother, Ernest, was baptised the following year on 10th October 1880.
At the time of 1881 Census the family were living in Parkgate Road. Their daughter Mary Elizabeth was still at home and the family had now grown to include daughters Dora Elizabeth (1872), Emma Jane Stanley (1873), Beatrice Ellen (1876) and sons Alfred (1879) and Ernest (1880).
Alfred’s older sister, Emily Louisa, was working and was in service living with a family in Bebington. William was probably working in Liverpool which is where he was living when he died in 1890.
(1881 Census extract, Parkgate Road)
Mary Elizabeth ”
Mary Elizabeth ”
Dora Elizabeth ”
Emma Jane ”
Beatrice Ellen ”
In 1891 the family were living in Park Street, Neston and another son, Edwin had been born in 1883. The three boys, Alfred, Ernest and Edwin were still at school as was their sister Beatrice. Alfred’s sister Mary Elizabeth was working as teacher and his sister Emma was earning a living as a dressmaker. Emily Louisa had married Alexander Nicol, a brass finisher originally from Scotland, in Walton-on-the-Hill, Liverpool in 1889 and in 1891 they were living in Walton on the Hill. A few years later they moved to Monks Coppenhall (Crewe).
1891 Census (extract) Park Street, Neston
In 1893, his sister Mary Elizabeth married Neston plumber, Joseph Johnson in Nantwich, possibly from her sister’s house.
We know from the newspaper articles published after his death that Alfred was a member of the Neston church choir and attended Sunday school. In the 1901 census his occupation is recorded as ‘shop assistant to tobacconist’ , most probably for William Ariel Gray a ‘cigar, cigarette and tobacco merchant and manufacturer’. William Ariel Gray married Margaret Jones of Park View, Neston in 1873. He established a successful business in Liverpool as a tobacco and cigar merchant with offices in Exchange Buildings in Liverpool. He later extended the business to include a wholesale factory in Everton. Like Alfred, he was a member of the church choir and was also an occasional organist there. William Ariel Gray died, aged 72, in December 1913 and, on 27 October 1915, Margaret Gray married the Rev. Canon H. Bethel Jones of Old Colwyn at Neston parish church (although she died, aged 76, in September 1916). It appears that he also taught Sunday school classes that Alfred attended.
Alfred was a member of the Neston Cycling Club, established in 1898 and most probably attended the dances and social events organised in connection with it. It seems likely that either his future wife, Clara Putt (born 1878 in Barrow in Furness) or one of her brother was also a member of the Society. Members of the Neston Club attended a Chester cycle carnival in September 1890 and the Cheshire Observer reported that half of the group were ‘of the fair sex‘. When the Club held its first ball in February 1901 at the Town Hall both he and Clara were listed amongst the guests. At the time of the Census in March 1901 Alfred was staying at the Putt family home in Little Sutton village. Clara’s mother was a widow and at that time was earning a living as grocer. However in July of the same year the hobby led to an accident in which he sustained significant injuries. According to the newspaper report he was cycling in Little Sutton village when he was flung from his cycle after trying to avoid a pedestrian.
When trying to avoid a man who was walking along the street he collided with him, and both came to the ground. Jellicoe was thrown with fearful violence, and was carried in an unconscious state to Mr. Putt’s house. A medical examination shewed that he was suffering from severe injury to the brain and spine, and that the drum of one ear had been destroyed. He partially recovered consciousness on Sunday morning, (Cheshire Observer 27th July 1901)
The same report describes him as is ‘a junior partner in the firm of Messrs Gray and Co., tobacco merchants, Rumford-street, Liverpool, of which Mr. W. Ariel Gray, of Neston, is the head’.
Marriage and Children
However, he recovered sufficiently to marry Clara on in the following December on Boxing Day. The wedding took place at the Presbyterian Church in Little Sutton. William Ariel Gray was best man at the wedding and Alfred’s sister Beaty ( Beatrice) was one of the two bridesmaids. The bride was given away by her brother, Charles Putt.
The couple moved to Liverpool after the wedding and when their son Alfred was baptised at St Margaret’s, Anfield the following year they were living at 21, St Albans. Their second son was born in 1903 when they were living at 13 Haddon Avenue.
In the years that followed there were more marriages in the family. In 1905 Emma Jane married Arthur Cecil Stone in Nantwich and soon afterwards they left England, possibly for New Zealand first before moving to South Africa. Their daughter Beatrice was born in Cape Colony in 1910 but Emma’s husband died around that time. Also in 1905 Alfred’s brother Edwin married Maud Gillespie Tinker, possibly in Neston as the marriage was registered in Wirral. His sister Beatrice married Lewis Fairbank in Birkenhead in 1907 and his youngest brother, Ernest married Elsie Hobley in 1909, most probably in Neston.
Change of Career
At some point before 1909 Alfred decided on a change of career and he was working as a steward aboard the SS Haverford, an Atlantic passenger liner which was then operated by the American Line on a route between Liverpool and Philadelphia.
Liverpool Crew Register, 1909, records that Alfred Jellicoe was 31, had been born in Neston, was resident at 33 Mansell Road (in the Kensington district of Liverpool), that he last served on the SS Canada and that he had signed-on for this voyage on the Haverford on 21 September 1909. The second page of the Register notes that Alfred was a steward, that he had to be on board the ship at 6.0 am on 22 September and that his wage was £3 per week (equivalent approximately to £300 per week in 2018) for this engagement. The balance of his wage, once the ship had returned to Liverpool, was to be £2 16s.
There is second entry for Alfred showing that he signed up for another voyage later in the same year. It notes that he had last served on this ship (this will be the previous entry for Alfred) and that he had signed-on for this second voyage on the Haverford on 26 October 1909. The second page of the Register notes that Alfred was again a steward, that he had to be on board the ship at 6.0am on 27 October and that his wage was still £3 per week. The balance of his wage, once the ship had returned to Liverpool, was to be £2 19s.
Built by John Brown & Co. of Clydebank for the American Line, Haverford was launched in 1901 and took her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York on 4 September of that year. After that, Haverford served in American’s Liverpool-Philadelphia service, although she was also used in 1901-02 on the Red Star Line’s Antwerp-New York route (4 trips) and in 1908-09 on the Dominion Line’s Liverpool-Halifax-Portland route (2 trips).
During World War I Haverford served as a troopship and in 1917 she was damaged in a torpedo attack which put her out of service for six months.
In December 1920, Haverford made the American Line’s last Liverpool-Boston-Philadelphia sailing. That route, and the ship, were then taken over by the White Star Line, which, like the American, Red Star and Dominion Lines, was owned by International Mercantile Marine. She retained her American Line name but was repainted in White Star colours. She remained on that route through 1923. Haverford made one final crossing to Philadelphia in September 1924, and was scrapped in Italy in 1925. [http://www.greatships.net/haverford.html]
The SS Canada, on which Alfred had served previously, was a passenger liner operated jointly by the White Star Line and the Dominion Line, both of which were part of J.P. Morgan’s International Mercantile Marine and which later became the White Star Line Canadian Service. This service operated from 1908 until 1926. The Canada was built by Harland & Wolff, Belfast, and was launched in 1896 and in 1909 was rebuilt to carry 463 2nd Class passengers and 755 3rd class passengers on a 7/8-day passage from Liverpool to (generally) Quebec with a winter service to Boston. In August 1914, whilst in Canada, she was taken over and used to transport troops to England and was then used as an accommodation ship for German prisoners for the rest of the year before being used as a transport ship. After the war the Canada returned to service as an Atlantic liner until 1926 when the vessel was scrapped in Italy.
[It has been recorded also that a crew list of 1910 lists Alfred as a steward on the SS Persic , a passenger ship which had been built by Harland and Wolff in 1899. This information, which has not been verified by this author, is quoted in https://www.loyalregiment.com/32491-pte-a-jellicoe-l-n-lan-r/. SS Persic was an ocean liner of the White Star Line. She was one of the five ‘Jubilee Class’ ships built specifically to service the Liverpool–Cape Town–Sydney route.]
Mary Elizabeth ”
Cape Colony, South Africa
Alfred’s brother Ernest and wife Elsie were still in Neston living in West View, Church Lane and Ernest was working as plumber. Also still in Neston and still living in the High Street were his sister Mary and her husband Joseph. Edwin was in lodgings in Oswestry, working as a plumber, while his wife Maud and their children were staying with Maud’s parents in Manchester and Emily (Lucy) was still living in Crewe with her family.
A year later, in 1912, Alfred and Clara’s younger son, Harold, died.
At the beginning of the War Alfred enlisted with the Liverpool Pals of The Kings (Liverpool Regiment), with Service Number 30553, on the outbreak of war but was afterwards transferred to the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, probably in late 1915. Alfred’s sister married William Tyson in 1915; William had enlisted in September 1914. Emily Louise’s eldest son, William Nicol, was an early casualty in the war, dying in France in September 1915.
The Third Battle of Ypres
The 10th (Service) Battalion Loyal North Lancashire Regiment had been formed at Preston in October 1914 as part of Kitchener’s Third New Army and was attached to the 22nd Division. After training on the South Downs, and spending the winter in Eastbourne they transferred to the newly forming 112th Brigade 37th Division in April 1917 which was concentrating at Cholderton on Salisbury Plain. They proceeded to France, landing at Boulogne on 1 August 1917, the division concentrating near Tilques. They went into action in The Battle of the Ancre and fought in The First Battle of the Scarpe, including the capture of Monchy-le-Preux, The Second Battle of the Scarpe and The Battle of Arleux. They were in action between July and November 1917 in The Third Battles of Ypres – ‘Passchendaele’ – and it was during this action, infamous not only for the scale of casualties but also for the mud, that Alfred Jellicoe was wounded and subsequently died on 23 September 1917.
The War Diary for the 10th Battalion for 23 September records simply:
In the line. Heavily shelled all day. We are just on the right of TOWER HAMLETS in
Shrewsbury Forest. In support to 6th Bedfords Regiment.
Although weather conditions had improved significantly from the wet weather of August ground conditions were still poor and, on the morning of 20 September it is recorded in another sector of the front line that at dawn a heavy drizzle came down, soaking the troops and, with heavy mist, making everything obscure. This rain followed heavy rain the previous night. Despite the conditions the assault began at 5.40am on 20 September following increased artillery fire from the Allied troops along much of the front line. Apparently the Germans had not expected the attack to be prolonged so far southward and, in some sectors, resistance was not well supported and the German front-line defences were overrun without difficulty. However, in the area of the eastern part of Shrewsbury Forest, where the 10th Battalion The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment were moving forward, resistance was intense but troops reached their objectives in the valley of the Bassevillebeek and moved towards the slopes of the spur of higher ground known as Tower Hamlets where strong machine-gun opposition was encountered from both Tower Hamlets and the Veldhoek Ridge. Fierce fighting continued through 21 September in the vicinity of Tower Hamlets and, for four days, the Germans launched three powerful attacks on a wide front between Tower Hamlets and Polygon Wood which led to incursions into the British lines before the enemy was pushed back.
On the 27th, the day on which the Battalion was relieved, it was noted that Our casualties are heavy being 94 killed and wounded although the number of fatalities wasn’t recorded.
‘…the supreme sacrifice…’
Private Alfred Jellicoe’s death at the age of 39 was reported in the Chester Chronicle and the Birkenhead News. The Chronicle notes,incorrectly, that he was the eldest son of E. Jellicoe of Raby Park, Neston. It also notes that Alfred had been in the Neston Church Choir and that one of his brothers was also at the Front and that another was awaiting tribunal orders. He left a widow, Clara, and a son, Alfred, then aged sixteen. Alfred was the sole beneficiary of his will.
In Summer 1919 the army paid outstanding credits – mainly remaining wages – to soldiers or, in the case of those who had died, their family or nominated representatives. At the same time a War Gratuity was often paid.
Alfred Jellicoe had accrued a credit of £17 18s 4d and this was received by his son Alfred, as sole legatee. Alfred received also the £13 War Gratuity and it appears that a ‘charge’, possibly a debit, of 11s was made. Assuming a total payment of £20 7s 4d was made, this is approximately equivalent to a labour value (ie wages) of about £3100 in 2016.
The War Gratuity was introduced in December 1918 as a payment to be made to those men who had served in WW1 for a period of 6 months or more home service or for any length of service if a man had served overseas. The rules governing the gratuity were implemented under Army Order 17 of 1919 but the amount paid was related to the length of war service.
In September 1918, a year after Alfred’s death, members of his family placed notices in the In Memoriam column of the Liverpool Echo, including one from his sister Emily Louise (Lucy) in Crewe.
Although it is possible that Alfred Jellicoe’s home address was in West Kirby around the time of his death he is not commemorated on the Hoylake and West Kirby War Memorial on Grange Hill, West Kirby.
Whilst the headstone inscription at the family grave at Neston Parish Church, and some newspaper reports, record that Alfred died in France, he actually died, and was buried subsequently at Hooge Crater Cemetery to the east of Ypres , Belgium. The area of the cemetery changed hands many times throughout the war and the CWGC notes that Hooge Chateau and its stables were the scene of very fierce fighting throughout the First World War. On 31 October 1914, the staff of the 1st and 2nd Divisions were wiped out when the chateau was shelled; from 24 May to 3 June 1915, the chateau was defended against German attacks and in July 1915, the crater was made by a mine sprung by the 3rd Division. On 30 July, the Germans took the chateau, and on 9 August, it and the crater were regained by the 6th Division. The Germans retook Hooge on 6 June 1916 and on 31 July 1917, the 8th Division advanced 1.6km beyond it. It was lost for the last time in April 1918, but regained by the 9th (Scottish) and 29th Divisions on 28 September. Hooge Crater Cemetery was begun by the 7th Division Burial Officer early in October 1917. It contained originally 76 graves…..but was greatly increased after the Armistice when graves were brought in from the battlefields of Zillebeke, Zantvoorde and Gheluvelt and…..smaller cemeteries. There are now 5,916 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery. 3,570 of the burials are unidentified, but special memorials record the names of a number of casualties either known or believed to be buried among them, or whose graves in other cemeteries were destroyed by shell fire.
It is quite probable that Alfred Jellicoe was buried initially in one of the smaller or temporary cemeteries close to Geluveld; there was, at the time, a Tower Hamlets Cemetery here which contained the graves of 36 soldiers from the United Kingdom who fell in the winter of 1917-1918 [CWGC] and whose bodies were reinterred at the Hooge Crater Cemetery in mid-1919.
It is believed that Alfred’s widow, Clara Jellicoe, married James H. Brown on Wirral in July / September 1924 and in 1939 they were living in Bebington where her husband was employed as a biscuit factory manager. She died, aged 71, in late 1950.
Alfred’s parents died before the Second World War, his father John dying in 1926 and his mother, Mary Elizabeth in 1929.
The 1939 Register recorded that Ernest Jellicoe (born 7 August 1880) was a master plumber living at ‘West View’ on Parkgate Road with his wife Elsie nee Hobley (born 3 December 1888). Also living with them was their unmarried son Charles Walley Jellicoe (born 9 May 1910, engineer’s draughtsman at a shipyard) and Elsie’s mother Lilias Hobley (born 9 June 1864, incapacitated), Elsie Jellicoe did in mid-1954, aged 65, and Ernest died in early 1975.
Alfred’s’s son married Doris Taylor in 1924 and in 1939 they were living in Hoylake with their son, John. Alfred was an electrical contractor. He died in 1969.
Beatrice, was living in Barnsley with her husband, Lewis, and she was then working as chiropodist. It appears that they returned to the Wirral at some point as Lewis’ death was registered in Wirral in 1955 and Beatrice’s in 1961 when she died at the age of 85.
Dora Tyson is listed on the 1939 Register ; a widow, living at Birch Cottage, Liverpool Road. She lived to the age of 97, dying in 1969. Mary Elizabeth Johnson and her husband, Joseph were living in Raby Cottage, Raby Park Road with their children Annie, Joseph and Thomas. Mary Elizabeth died in 1961 at the age of 94. Emily Louisa remained in Crewe and died shortly before her 100th birthday, in 1962.