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War Memorials

In Memory of
Private DM2/224851
648th MT Coy Royal Army Service Corps
Who Died on Thursday, 14th November 1918
Age 35

Plot VIII Row B Grave 8
Dar Es Salaam (Upanga Road) Cemetery, Tanzania

Commemorated in Perpetuity
by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Remembered with Honour
Dar Es Salaam (Upanga Road) Cemetery

Dar Es Salaam (Upanga Road) Cemetery, Tanzania1

Alfred Ernest Clifford was born in Beeston in 18832, the fifth of seven children of William (b. c1849, Beeston) and Sarah Clifford (b. 1851, Ardwick, Manchester née Gore). By the time that William and Sarah married in 18743, William was well established in the lace trade and remained a lace maker for the remainder of his working life. By 1891, they and their seven children were living at Wollaton Road, Beeston4. By 1901, they had moved to live at 29 Enfield Street, Beeston5 by which time the 18-year-old Alfred Ernest was working as an iron moulder.

Early in 1906, Alfred Ernest married Jemima Caroline Wood (b. 1884, Baxterley, Warwickshire). Their son, Alfred Herbert, was born in May 1906, a second son, William Alfred, was born in 1908 and their daughter, Louisa, early in 19106. By 1911, they were living at 9 Broughton Street, Beeston with Alfred Ernest working as a mechanic for a lace machine builder7.

As a slightly older married man with young children, it is perhaps understandable that Alfred Ernest was not amongst those who enlisted so enthusiastically in the early months of the war. By 1916, however, the number of men volunteering for service was diminishing and was not meeting the relentless demand from the Western Front and the Government was looking for ways to fill the gap. The Derby Scheme, which introduced canvassing for volunteers had still not persuaded the required numbers and the Military Service Act was now enacted which meant that all single men aged between 18 and 41 (with some exceptions) would be automatically conscripted. In May, this was extended to married men and in 1918 the age limit was extended to 51. Now, Alfred Ernest had no choice and he enlisted in September 19168. In the event he was selected for training as a motor transport driver with the Royal Army Service Corps and reported for training at Isleworth on 20 October 1916 and completed the course successfully on 7 January 1917. During the spring and summer of 1917, he was engaged in general duties on the home front and was granted four days leave in late July.

At the outbreak of the war, Tanzania was the core of German East Africa where Colonel Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck was in command of its very limited military resources with a mission to attempt to divert Allied resources from the European front. His tactic was to fight a protracted guerrilla war against the superior British forces which were able to bring in men from India and from its own African colonies, including civilian porters. While the campaign did not divert significant Allied resources from Europe, the German guerrilla tactics were very successful and these were to persist throughout the war with great cost to the British in both money and casualties9.

On September 28 1917, Private Clifford was amongst a contingent of reinforcements that was sent to the region. By then the British had been able to divert resources from West Africa and had much of the initiative in East Africa although Lettow-Vorbeck continued to surprise and beset the British forces at every turn - with considerable success. No doubt, there was an urgent need for additional transport resources as losses amongst local porters became increasingly difficult to replace. Private Clifford sailed from Devonport on the troopship Honorata which arrived in Durban on 4th November and continued aboard the troopship Caronia to the East African port of Kilwa, arriving on 13 November. The journey further along the coast, to Dar es Salaam where the Divisional GHQ was based and which was the main sea base for movement of supplies, would have taken another day.

Private Clifford was attached to 648th MT Company and, as such, was involved in providing a supply chain for the fighting fronts. But the climate and conditions in the forward areas were particularly difficult for new arrivals in particular and, over the next year, Private Clifford was to spend many weeks in hospital with malaria. It was therefor not surprising that, when the influenza pandemic hit hard in Africa as it did all around the globe, Private Clifford was one of the many stuck down. He was admitted to 84th General Hospital in Dar es Salaam in 11th November - Armistice Day in Europe - and, despite every effort by the staff, died three days later on the 14th.10.

He is buried in Dar es Salaam (Upanga Road) Cemetery was had been opened as a war cemetery in March 1918 when the European section of Ocean Road Cemetery was closed. After the Armistice, Commonwealth and German graves were brought into this site from Kidete, Lansi and Utete Cemeteries. The cemetery now contains 231 Commonwealth burials of the First World War. The cemetery also contains the Pugo Road 1914-18 Memorial to 124 casualties buried in Dar es Salaam (Pugu Road) Christian Cemetery which could no longer be maintained to a satisfactory standard11.

For William Alfred's parents it was a further tragic loss as their youngest son, John Robert Clifford had been killed in action in France on 26 August 1918, while serving with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

Although no record has been found, it is very likely that Private Clifford was posthumously awarded the British & Victory medals. His Army financial effects of 22 9s 11d, which included his War Gratuity of 12, were paid to Jemima, his widow, on 3 May 191912.

After her husband joined the army, Jemima and their family of three children had looked to the support of her family and its connections within the coal mining community. She moved first to Bulwell and later to 75 Duke Street, Cresswell, near Mansfield, Notts, where she was living at the end of the war. By 1939, she was living with her eldest son - then working as a miner - and his wife in Clowne, near Chesterfield, Derbyshire. She died in 1963, aged 7913.

1The photograph of Dar es Salaam (Upanga Road) Cemetery is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
2His birth date was recorded as 18 February 1883 when he was baptised at Beeston Parish Church on 1 April 1883.
3William and Sarah were married at Beeston Parish Church on 21 April 1874.
4Beeston, Notts: 1891 Census, Piece 2671 Folio 3
Alfred Ernest's siblings were William (b. c1876), Mary Louis (b. c1877), Henry (b. c1879), Arthur Gore (b. 1882), Sarah Ann (1886-1902) and John Robert (1888-1918).
5Beeston, Notts: 1901 Census, Piece 3153 Folio 45
6Their marriage was registered in Basford Registration District in Q1/1906 (Ref 7b 270). It appears, from a barely legible note in Alfred's Army Service Record, that the marriage was at Basford Register Office. Alfred Herbert was born on 17 May 1906, William Alfred in Q4/1908 and Louisa in Q1/1910. All three were born in Beeston
71911 Census, Beeston, Notts : Piece 20427 RD429 SD3 ED2 Sched 156.
8Details of his enlistment and postings are from his surviving Army Service Record which may be seen on-line at ancestry.com. Much of the surviving record is extremely difficult to read but it does seem that, for whatever reason, he overstated his age by two years. He also gave an address of 27 Dallas York Road, Long Eaton - an address that is more likely to be in Beeston.
9There is more about the East Africa Campaign on its Wiki page at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_African_Campaign_(World_War_I) and the War History Online website at www.warhistoryonline.com/world-war-i/world-war-one-east-africa-x.html.
10The medical report which followed his death, surviving within his Service Record, attributed his death to "Influenza. Disease contracted whilst on military service and result of climate".
11This description of Dar es Salaam (Upanga Road) Cemetery is based on that included on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
12Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929, available on ancestry.com.
13This family detail is derived from standard genealogical sources, including the 1939 Registration.

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