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Private 15/1208 1st Leeds Pals

1892: Harry Hey, an analytical chemist, married Annie Elizabeth Marsden in Ossett. They had four children, Arthur Marsden, Alan Marsden, Dora Elizabeth and George Harry, all born in Thornhill, a village in Dewsbury. (Find My Past 2015)(Free BMD 2015)

1895: Alan was born in September.

1901: On both the 1901 and

1911: Censuses and on Alan’s Attestation papers the family address is given as 2 Ash Terrace, Savile Town, Dewsbury. Alan, age 15, was still at school. (Find My Past 2015)

1915: Alan joined the 15th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment on 27th January at Colsterdale, presumably as a volunteer. He gave his trade as ‘Apprentice Rag & Mungo Merchant’. His age was given as 19yrs 8mths, and his height as 5ft 4.5ins. He was given the army number of 15/1208 and posted to B Company, though he subsequently moved to E Company. He remained a private for the whole of his service, though he was rated a Signaller 1st Class, and his conduct sheet remained blank, suggesting that he was a good soldier but nothing exceptional. Except, perhaps, at sport. He had several rosettes won at various battalion sports days. At one on 12th May 1915 he took part in the 1st Heat of the 100 yards Flat Race Semi-finals, along with Harold Hartley, but what happened after that is not known. (Milner p.62)

Alan served with the Leeds Pals for the whole of his army career, going to Egypt at the end of 1915, arriving on 22 December

1916: and leaving 1st March, ready to go to France on 8th March. He stayed in France, apart from the odd home leave, until 1919.

1918: On 12th March Alan took part in a battalion sports meeting at Caucourt, and came second in the 300yd race. On 1st April he suffered a gunshot wound to his left arm, but I doubt he thought it a joke, even though it was judged to be ‘mild’. He was sent to No. 24 General Hospital, Etaples, which, it turned out, was a good place to be. This was the time of the Germans’ last offensive, when the British Army came probably closest to defeat, but survived to turn the tables and beat the enemy in the last three months of the war. (Milner p.198)(Find My Past 2015)

1919: Alan also survived, and returned to England on 25th February.

1920: He was discharged on 31st March.

He was awarded the 1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. (Ancestry 2015)

Researcher: Peter Taylor

Please Note:

  • All opinions and inferences are the researcher’s own.
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