1918-2008: Ninety Years of Remembrance

Soldier Record

Alfred Edwin Andrew

Contributed by: Richard Bryce, on 2008-11-07

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First Name Alfred Edwin
Surname Andrew
Year of Birth 1887
Year of Death 1941
Regiment Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)
Place of Wartime Residence Kettering, Northamptonshire

Alfred Edwin's Story

I never met my grandad Alfred Edwin Andrew, who was a 14-year-old bugle boy with BEF in France Aug 1914 and in Salonika 1915-19. He died in 1941. A copy of the photo of him in stripes used to hang on my grandma's parlour wall. From a little boy I was so proud he was 'my' grandad. He has alway been my only hero. These are the memories of my mother.

Grandad always talked about mates he'd left behind

No doubt enthralled by his own grandad's tales of life in the Kings Own 4th of Foot, Ted Andrew was rejected as too young by the local Northamptons, so in 1902, aged 14, he ran away from home. The next heard from him was a photo postcard from Maryhill Barracks where he had joined 2nd Battalion Scottish Rifles (formerly Perthshire Light Infantry). Here he became a bugler, a role used to convey orders to skirmishing riflemen.

Though he loved army life his fiance, Christina Kirton, had no intention of becoming an army wife, so Ted did his seven years with the colours and came out. They settled in Corby and Ted became a Reservist. With the recall in 1914 Ted rejoined the regiment taking his best made Ernie Pridmore with him. With 1st Battn Cameronians they were in France 15th August 1914. In September 1915 Ted was transferred to 11 Battn and was soon in Salonika. Here he declined a field commission because he couldn't afford the mess fees. For a time he was an acting serjeant major.

From my research I found the Cameronians were involved in the second day of the horrific assault on Pip Ridge in the Second Battle of Doiran. It's a battle we never hear about, but the futile loss of life was as bad as any in Flanders. On the first day two brigades were virtually wiped out trying to take a 2000 ft fortified hill. Next day, knowing they were on their way to almost certain death the Scots were sent to clamber over the fallen of the day before. As a serjeant, grandad would have had the unenviable job of urging his comrades on and up, wearing gas masks in the stifling September heart. Half the battalion didn't make it back, and the Cameronians were among the least badly hit. No wonder he never recounted his war experiences. But grandad always talked about mates he'd left behind, like uncle Ernie who was wounded out in 1917 and died in 1920.

Grandad contracted malaria in Salonika, which made life miserable thereafter. My mother would rub cooling lotion on him every night, because grandma's hands were too rough - she had become the main breadwinner as a skivvy.

After, the war he was a prominent local Buff, and used to lead the Remembrance Parade. But that became too emotional for him and after a while he couldn't even bear to attend the parade, preferring to remember his fallen comrades in private.

Though had he never talked about his wartime experiences, Grandad often reminisced about his early days in the regiment, and about the friendships he had made. My mother had a bonnet as a girl and Grandad would get her to wear it because it reminded him of the Glengarry they wore.

Grandad's uncle Ed Arnold was too old at 42 to enlist at the outbreak, so he worked his passage to Canada, took 6 years off his age and by late September was on his way back to England in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Four other Arnold uncles and cousins enlisted, as did three other brother-in-laws, and grandad's own brother, Frank. Uncle Lewis became a POW, brother-in-law Jack Faulkner was killed at Loos before he ever saw his baby daughter, and brother-in-law George Chapman was invalided in a gas attack.

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