Alfred Field

Service number: 10173 | Rank: Sergeant | Regiment: Leicestershire Regiment

Died of wounds, February 11, 1915, in Flanders.



Alfred Field was the son of Ambrose Field, who in his day was a well-known Brandon flintknapper. Alfred worked on a farm after he left school and then a month shy of his 18th birthday, in 1909, he left that job to join the Army. Alfred seemed to have lacked physical prowess and the Army Medical Officer stated he had “very poor development but will suffice”. Despite this it seemed that Alfred was otherwise the model soldier, and over the next few years he rose through the ranks, being promoted to Lance Corporal in June 1911 and then to Corporal the following summer. 1912 was a good year for Alfred because along with his promotion to Corporal he married Alice Dines at Thetford Register Office. The following year later they moved to Great Bentley, in north Essex. Life looked rosy.

When war broke out Alfred was called back to the colours with the Leicestershire Regiment and from here we can see his world slowly fell apart. Alfred had a younger brother named Ambrose, after their father, and Ambrose being a career soldier at the outbreak of war was one of the first to go to France, he got caught up in the retreat from Mons in October 1914 and the Field family had no word of his welfare, even months later. Ambrose finally got word back to his parents to say he had been wounded but was now safe in a POW camp, a place that would be his home for the duration of the war. Alfred’s war experiences were not good either. He went over to France in December 1914 and a month later, on 22nd January 1915, Alfred was tried for “neglect of duty when on guard”. His crime was severe enough for him to be stripped of his hard earned stripes, and he was demoted down to Private, with a loss of pay and all other privileges that it entailed. On February 11th Alfred received a wound so severe that a few hours later he died. However the war diary for the 2nd Battalion Leicestershire Regiment does not detail any action on that date, and in fact it logs the battalion as being relieved from their forward positions, although there was considerable enemy sniping the evening before. It is possible that Alfred was shot by a sniper late at night and died from his wounds in the early hours of the next day.

The following was printed in the Thetford & Watton Times, on 13th March 1915

“Information has been received by Mrs Ambrose Field, of Oddfellow Cottages, Bury Road, that her son Sgt Alfred Field of the Leicestershire Reserve, recently died from wounds received in action. No further particulars are at present available. Sgt Field, who was married, removed from Brandon to Great Bentley about twelve months ago. He formerly carried on a flint knapping business in Brandon. He was called up for Ordinary Military Training in June and was sent to the Front in November. Another son of Mrs Field, Sgt Ambrose Field, had been a prisoner in Germany since August. A postcard was received from him last Saturday saying he was alright.”

Three days before the Christmas of 1915 the War Office sent Alfred’s widow, Alice, who at the time was living in London, the civilian suit he had been wearing when he walked into the Recruitment Centre after receiving his call up papers. She was obliged to follow military protocol and sign for it. Although Alfred did receive a burial far away in France, for her this suit is a scant reminder of her beloved husband.