Alfred Waterland

alfred waterlandLance Corporal, 43601, 1st Battalion, Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire Regiment), died of wounds, 24th March 1918, aged 21

Born at Crowle in 1897, Alfred was the second son and one of four children of Thomas William and Hannah Louisa Waterland (nee Cowling), both of whom were also from Crowle. In 1901 the family lived in Cock Lane where Thomas worked as a general labourer.

In 1904 Alfred’s mother died and his father remarried the following year, going on to have six more children with his new wife. In 1911 the family lived in The Slack where he worked on the Moors as a peat cutter. Alfred had left home as aged 14, he was working on a farm at Eastoft Grange.

Alfred married Mary Taylor in October 1917, possibly in Eastoft as the marriage was registered in Goole. He was in the army at the time having attested at Crowle post 1915 and posted to the Sherwood Foresters.

In early 1918 Alfred was with the 1st Sherwood’s in the trenches east of Ypres. Their period of duty here ended on 12th March and they came out of the line for a well earned period of rest and training at billets in Zudasque, near St Omer. They were still there on 21st March when the German’s launched their Spring Offensive and the 1st Sherwood’s were ordered south to help reinforce the positions on the Somme. The journey itself was not without incident as their train was bombed by enemy aircraft, fortunately without serious injury to anyone onboard.

On 23rd March they had reached their allocated positions on the banks of the River Somme around the village of St Christie (Saint-Christ-Briost), west of St Quentin, and were still digging in when the first German soldiers appeared on the opposite bank. The attack came around 9.00pm that evening, centred on the St Christie bridge across the River Somme which had been blown up but only partially demolished. After an hour’s hard fighting some enemy troops managed to get a footing on the other side, but were unable to progress further into the village owing to the stubborn resistance of the 1st Sherwoods. Shortly after midnight they organised a counter-attack which succeeded in clearing the bridge and driving the enemy back across the river. Several smaller raids were launched across the river the following day, but beaten back each time.

In helping to defend the bridge at St Christie, Alfred was seriously wounded when a shell fractured his thigh. Taken to a Casualty Clearing Station at Rosieres, Alfred Waterland died there shortly afterwards of injuries related to a fractured femur. The report in the Epworth Bells said he died the same day although other sources say it was the following day 24th March. Alfred is buried in Rosieres British Cemetery.

Memorials were read for Alfred at both St Bartholomew’s Church, Eastoft and the Bourne Primitive Methodist Chapel, Crowle.

Alfred is also commemorated on Crowle War Memorial.