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War Memorials



In Memory of
ALFRED HAROLD CALVERT
Private 223955
1st/7th Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby) Regiment (later 250th Div Labour Corps)
Who died on Sunday, 27th January 1918
Age 41

Plot L Row G Grave 25
Dover (St James)Cemetery

Commemorated in Perpetuity
by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
&
Remembered with Honour
Dover (St James) Cemetery

Dover (St James) Cemetery1

Alfred Harold Calvert was born in London in 18762, the only son, one of the four children3 of William (b.1842, Ireland) and Elizabeth (b. 1840, Nottingham, née Massey).

By 1871, William, a grocer and wine and spirit merchant, had moved to England and was living and trading in Flintham, Nottinghamshire4 and married Nottingham-born Elizabeth Massey later in 18715. After moving to Nottingham he set up as a tea merchant at 52 Long Row, Nottingham, later to include more general grocery and a tea rooms6. By 1881, having in the meantime lived briefly in London7, the family was living at 2 All Saints Terrace, Nottingham8. By 1891 they had moved to 21 Gill Street9 and Alfred was attending Nottingham High School where he remained until 189410. By 1901, the family had moved to a more fashionable address at 7 Burns Street, Nottingham11 and Alfred was working in the now well-established family business. By 1911, the family was living at 3 Station Villas, Beeston12 which, being adjacent to the station, was ideal for businessmen wishing an easy commute to Nottingham. William, however, is not present at the time of the census as he was, by then, receiving treatment at a private nursing home at 6 Oxford Street, Nottingham, where he died on 19 April 191113.

Alfred had become one of the early members of the 1st Nottinghamshire (Robin Hood) Rifle Volunteer Corps, possible having been inspired by the cadet corps formed at Nottingham High School around the same time. In April 1908 he went on to enlist with the 7th (Robin Hood) Battalion Sherwood Foresters and, when war came in 1914, he went on to re-enlist for active service in October 1914 with 1st/7th Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby) Regiment which was formed from Territorial Force members14.

The battalion, as a whole - including Private Calvert - landed in France on 25 February 191515, as part of the 139th (Forester) Brigade and soon saw action in the trenches in the Ypres salient, incurring substantial casualties. In July they faced terrifying flamethrower attacks and very heavy fighting and resulting casualties continued throughout August. In September/October of that year, the battalion was involved in the Battle of Loos, another period of terrible fighting with huge losses, rightly described at its height, by one soldier, as "Hell with the lid off". During an attack on the Hohenzoltern Redoubt on 14th October, Captain Charles Geoffrey Vickers, the son of Charles Henry Vickers, the Nottingham lace manufacturer, displayed gallantry in the face of the enemy for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross16.

For Private Calvert and many of his colleagues, this first few months had been a terrible introduction to trench warfare - but the worst was to come.

In the last days of June 1916, the Battalion was in position, as part of 46th (North Midland) Division, for what was to be the great Somme offensive against the German held Leipzig Salient. During this time, the German lines were pounded by artillery fire which was so intense at times that it was thought that the enemy defences would be so destroyed as to make the intended major attack possible. Bad weather had delayed the attack intended for 28th June and the Battalion was held in the Foncguevillers area, at the northern end of the line, opposite Gommecourt, awaiting orders to move forward for the attack. At 7.27am on 1st July, smoke was discharged and the battalion attacked in five waves at 7.30am with 5th Battalion Sherwood Foresters on its right. In the confusion of heavy smoke and unexpectedly strong German counter-attacks, only a small number of men were able reached the German line, having found gaps in the wire. Overall, the men faced very heavy resistance, heavy machine gun fire and bombing attacks which made significant advances impossible and there were very heavy casualties during the first hour. German artillery fire bombarded the trenches all morning resulting in many more casualties. By the time the battalion was withdrawn in the late evening, casualties totaled 19 officers and 424 other ranks. Of these, about half were known to have been killed or were missing17. The losses were such that the battalion had to be withdrawn and rebuilt and was not to participate in another major offensive until October 1918. Private Calvert had been very fortunate to survive this terrible day.

In the Spring of 1917, the men of the Territorial Force were renumbered. Private Calvert's Service Number became 265736. At some time after this, it appears that he was transferred to 250th Employment Company of the Labour Corps which operated in support of units in North Midland Division of which the Sherwoods were part. It is likely that, being much older than most of the men, he was no longer fit enough for infantry duties. In the event, in circumstances which appear to have no surviving record, he died after being repatriated to England18.

He was buried in Dover (St James) Cemetery. During the First World War, Dover was a port of embarkation for troops bound for the Western Front and between August 1914 and August 1919 some 1,300,000 Commonwealth sick and wounded were landed there. The port was bombed in 1915 and again in August 1916. There are 373 identified burials of the 1914-1918 war here. In addition there are 19 unidentified burials, 9 of whom can be named as victims of the Zeebrugge Raid, and these 9 are inscribed on a Special Memorial on the Cross of Sacrifice in the Zeebrugge Plot19.

Private Calvert was posthumously awarded the 1914-14 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. His estate, valued at £175 15s 9d, was administered by his elder sister, Edith Elizabeth Calvert. In that role she received his army effects of £17 5s 8d on 27 September 1918 and a War Gratuity of £15 on 15 November 191920.

His mother had died in 191621, by which time the family had moved to 2 Laburnum Grove. Beeston where Edith Elizabeth was still living at the time of death, unmarried, in 193022. In 1921, Emily Gertrude had married widower Alfred Salmon, a bank clerk on London23 but by 1930, when she was an administrator of her sister's estate, she described herself as a widow. By 1939, she and her surviving sister Florence Clare were living in Worthing, Sussex24. Florence died in Worthing in 1950 and Emily died in Lancing, Sussex in 1965.

As well as his entry on the memorial in Beeston Parish Church, Alfred is remembered on the War Memorial at Nottingham High School and on his parents' grave in Beeston Cemetery.


Footnotes
1The photograph of Dover (St James) Cemetery is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
2He was born on 29 July 1876 in Pancras Registration District, London, where his birth was registered in Q3/1876 (Ref 1b 64). He was baptised at St Jude's Church, Gray's Inn Road, Camden on 25 August 1876.
3Alfred's siblings were Edith Elizabeth (1872-1930), Florence Clare (1879-1950) and Emily Gertrude (1880-1965>.
4Flintham, Nottinghamshire, 1871 Census, Piece 3550 Folio 92 - The Village Street. William's sister, Elizabeth A Calvert was keeping house.
5Their marriage took place at St Ann's Church, Nottingham on 27 July 1871. Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry (a wireworker) & Ann Massey
6It appears that Calvert's business at 52 Long Row, Nottingham was situated prominently between Yates Wine Lodge and what was, until relatively recently, the Pearson Brothers store. It appears that it was operated here and at 36 Bridlesmith Gate, Nottingham as 'Bonser & Calvert' before 1878 and as 'Calvert's Tea Stores' by 1884. William Calvert was described as a Tea & Wine Merchant in 1888. As late as 1936. the site was occupied by 'Calverts’ Café, dining, tea rooms, etc.' (Various directories and Guides, notably 'Guide to Nottingham Castle, 18782' - see www.facebook.com/nottinghamhiddenhistoryteam/posts/732189840130618 - and Kelly's 1936).
7On Alfred's Baptism entry, the family's address is recorded as 275 Pentenville Road with William described as a grocer.
8Nottingham, 1881 Census, Piece 3350 Folio 52 - 2 All Saints Terrace. William was then employing 4 man and 3 boys
9Nottingham, 1891 Census, Piece 2692 Folio 30 - 21 Gill Street.
10Details from http://connect.nottinghamhigh.co.uk/items/show/105
11Nottingham, 1901 Census, Piece 3186 Folio 5 - 7 Burns Street.
12Beeston, Nottinghamshire, 1911 Census, Piece 20429 RD429 SD3 ED4 Sched 35 - 3 Station Villas
13Nottingham, 1911 Census, Piece 20512 RD430 SD1 ED23 Sched 283 - 6 Oxford Street. Deaths details are from the Probate Calendar.
14Details of his involvement with the Robin Hoods Territorials is from the Derbyshire Territorials in the Great War : https://derbyshireterritorials.wordpress.com/tag/trent-bridge-military-hospital. As his Army Service Record has not survived, details of his probable month of enlistment for active service has been calculated based on the amount of his War Gratuity.
15The date of his arrival in France is from his Medal Card (reproduced on the Derbyshire Territorials website) and his involvement in the Territorial Force is confirmed by a record on the card of an earlier service number (2907).
16Captain Vickers' Citation reads 'For conspicuous bravery in the Hohenzoltern Redoubt when all his men had been killed or wounded and with only two men available to hand him bombs, Captain Vickers held a barrier for some hours against attacks from the front and flanks. By ordering a second barrier to be built for the safety of the trench, he knowingly cut off his own retreat. He was severely wounded but saved a critical situation.' (Gazette, 18th November 1915). He was decorated with his Victoria Cross by King George V at Buckingham Palace on the 15th January 1916 and, on his return to Nottingham, was given a civic reception and presented with a gold watch by The Lord Mayor, in front of a large cheering crowd in the Market Square.
17This account is based on the Battalion's war diary. There is another summary of this horrendous attack at www.therobinhoods.org.uk/gommecourt.shtml
18Some accounts suggest that he received treatment at Trent Bridge Military Hospital in Nottingham (see https://derbyshireterritorials.wordpress.com/tag/trent-bridge-military-hospital ). However, his death was recorded in Dover Registration District in Q1/1918 (Ref 2a 1619).
19The description of over (St James) Cemetery is based on that on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
20WW1 Medal Card and "Army Register of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929" - available on ancestry.com. The amount of the gratuity tends to indicate that he enlisted in October 1914.
21Elizabeth died on 22 October 1916 (Probate Calendar) probably at her home at 2 Laburnum Grove, Beeston (Basford Registration District Q4/1916 ref 7b 226)
22Edith Elizabeth died on 1 August 1930 (Probate Calendar) probably at her home at 2 Laburnum Grove, Beeston (Basford Registration District Q3/1930 ref 7b 164)
23They were married at St Stephen's Church, Paddington, London on 23 July 1921.
241939 Registration - at The Briars, Arundel Road. Worthing. Both of 'Private Means'.

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