|Date of birth:||1889|
|Place of birth:||Bournemouth|
|Regiment:||Military Police Corps|
|Battalion:||H.Q Military Foot Police|
|Rank / Service No:||Lance Corporal, P/2432|
|Died:||9th May 1918, aged 28 years|
|Buried:||Aire Communal Cemetery, France (Plot II, Row J, Grave 10)|
Alfred’s family history is a little different to the normal. It is not known who his parents are, and he was brought up by his Aunt and her husband.
Interestingly, the word “adopted” is used in a Census return although Alfred kept his Aunt’s maiden name.
His aunt was Matilda Everett, who was born in Wiltshire in 1860. Matilda married Stephen Cummings in Wilton, Wilts. in 1880.
The couple had one son of their own….
Archie b. 1881 Grateley d. 1931 Sturminster Newton Married Edith HELEN Copper in Hartley Wintney on 1 May 1910.
Stephen was born in Andover in 1856 and he died in Hartley Wintney in 1911.
Matilda passed away in Southampton in 1933.
1885 saw the formation of the Military Mounted Police and the Military Foot Police, both under the Military Police Corps.
The Corps of the Military Foot Police was recruited from other corps and regiments of the British army. A recruit had to be of good character and have at least one good conduct badge and 4 years service.
There were no Privates in the Corps, the minimum rank was Corporal.
When WW1 broke out, there were 764 Military Police spread between the Mounted and the Foot. It soon became obvious that more policemen would be needed, and the peacetime standards of the Corps were considerably lowered.
Members of the M.F.P spent much of their early years on much-needed traffic control duties in France and Flanders, to ensure the smooth flow of troops.
Absenteeism and desertion became an increasing problem as the war progressed. It was the duty of Military Policemen to apprehend deserters and hold them for trial by court martial.
More than 3000 death sentences were passed by British courts martial between 1914 and 1920, of which 346 were carried out.
Of the 346 executions 266 were for desertion, 18 for cowardice, 37 for murder, 7 for quitting their post, 3 for mutiny, 2 for sleeping whilst a sentry, 6 for striking a superior officer, 5 for disobedience and 2 for casting away arms.
By the end of the war there were some 15,000 men in the Military Police…approximately 375 lost their lives in the conflict.
It was somewhat unfortunate that the typical British “Tommy” regarded the MP as an instrument of a brutal regime, forcing ordinary soldiers into more and more fighting.
From March 1915 to February 1918, Aire was a busy but peaceful centre used by Commonwealth forces as Corps HQ.
The Highland Casualty Clearing Station was based there, as was the 39th Stationery Hospital (from May 1917) and other medical units.
Plot I contains burials from the above period, whilst the burials in Plots II, III and IV (rows A-F) relate to the fighting of 1918, when the 54th C.C.S came to Aire and the town was, for a while, within 13km of the German lines.
The cemetery now contains 894 Commonwealth WW1 burials.
Alfred’s headstone reads: “ For country and humanity.”
|Published:||15th July 2016|
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