Alfred Walton

KOYLIPrivate, 20420, 7th (Service) Battalion, Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, killed in action 7th October 1916, aged 20

Born at Crowle in 1896, Alf was the third son and one of the ten children of Leonard and Alice Walton (nee Cowling). His father, a peat cutter on the Moors, was from Crowle and his mother from Eastoft.  In 1901 the family lived in Justice Hall Lane, but had moved to Godnow Road by 1911. In 1911 Alf was working as a greengrocer’s errand boy.

Alf enlisted in the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry at Goole in either 1914 or early 1915. Completing his training he arrived in France on 17th September 1915, which was when the 9th Battalion KOYLI arrived. So he possibly spent his early days in France with them, joining the 7th Battalion sometime later.

In September 1916 the 7th KOYLI participated in several actions during the Battle of the Somme including the attack on Lesboeufs, during which Albert Wilson lost his life. On the 7th October they were stationed in Gueudecourt when they were tasked to capture and clear two trenches, known as Rainbow Trench and Cloudy Trench, on a ridge north east of the town close to village of Le Transloy.

The attack on Le Transloy Ridge began at 1.45 pm with two companies of the 7th KOYLI in the first wave of attackers, the other two in the second. The attacking troops immediately encountered severe difficulties. The opening artillery barrage had fallen short of the German barbed wire which remained uncut but had made the ground, already a swamp from the heavy rain of the preceding few days, even more difficult to cross. Despite this the leading companies advanced according to an observer, ‘as though on Salisbury Plain. Unfortunately once they reached the uncut barbed wire they were pinned down and suffered heavy casualties from machine gun fire, not reaching Rainbow Trench until reinforced by the second wave.

The second objective, Cloudy Trench was captured with much less resistance and the battalion secured a large number of prisoners and munitions in the process. However due to the failure of the two divisions on either side to achieve their objectives they began to come under fire and had to fight off several counter-attacks until relieved the next night. The capture of these trenches was the furthest point the British advanced during the Battle of the Somme.

However the success was not achieved without heavy casualties and among those lost that day was Alf Walton. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

Alf is also commemorated on the plaque to former members of the congregation and Sunday School in Crowle Methodist Church.

Alf was the cousin of Percy and Leonard Walton.