Alfred Robinson

From towers to trenches, we remember Alfred Robinson

A basket maker turned soldier, such was the nature of the First World War that every young man no matter his military skill or experience was called upon to service his King and country. Alfred was one such young man who joined up and lost his life in Mesopotamia.

Alfred enlisted in Northampton and served as a Private in the Royal Army Medical Corps within the 40th Field Ambulance. Exactly two years on from the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, at the aged of 20 Alfred died – 28th June 1916.  Alfred is buried in Amara War Cemetery in modern day Iraq in plot XX11. B. 1.

A Field Ambulance was a medical unit and each army division was served by three Field Ambulances, each containing 224 men and 10 officers. The job description of a Field Ambulance Private varied from cook, washerman, orderly, to wagon orderly and stretcher bearer. The 40th Field Ambulance was assigned to the 13th (Western) Division who began a move to Mesopotamia on the 12th of February 1916. The division was involved in the attempts to relieve Kut which were unsuccessful.

Before enlisting, Alfred lived in Olney with his parents at 30 Weston Road. His father William was employed as a basket maker and was originally from Harrold in Bedfordshire where he was born. His mother Eliza was born in Scaldwell, Northamptonshire and the couple had five children of which three were still living in 1911. The 1911 census reveals that 30 Weston Road contained 4 rooms including the kitchen and sons Alfred age 15 and Ernest aged 9 were living at home. It was during this period that Alfred rang at St Peters and St Pauls, Olney.

In 1901 the family, residing at 30 Weston Road, included parents, elder brother William J aged 19 also a wicker basket maker, Alfred age 5 and his cousin 12 year old Eliza Dickens. Ten years earlier the 1891 census records reveal that the family was residing at 30 Weston Road and father William was employed as a basket maker, their son William J was just 9 years old and Eliza their niece was aged 2. Going back a further 10 year the 1881 census records reveal the young couple living further down the road at number 46, William aged 24 and employed as a basket maker and his wife is age 20, at this point there were no children.

Information sources

Census records for 1911, 1901, 1891, 1881

Commonwealth war graves commission

Buckinghamshire remembers

Medal card records

The Long, Long Trail