Officers, N.C.O.s and Men of the 1st Battalion, Buried in Citadel New Military Cemetery, Fricourt.
Fricourt was captured by the 17th Division on 2 July 1916 but the southern part of the commune, in which this cemetery is situated, was already in Allied hands. On the road from Fricourt to Bray, before it reaches the top of the plateau, are two points 71 metres above sea level, known to the Army as 71 North and 71 South. A little further on was a feature known as the Citadel.
The cemetery is in the Northern part of a valley, running from Fricourt to the Somme, which was known in 1916 as “Happy Valley“. It was begun by French troops and from August 1915, when the first Commonwealth burials were made, it was known as the Citadel Military Cemetery (Point 71). It was used until November 1916 and once in August 1918.(The cemetery was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.)
The cemetery contains 380 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, 17 of them unidentified.
The Cemetery contains 13 soldiers of the 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, though not from the original 1st Battalion. However, 1 Officer who arrived from the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion on 29th November 1914, though not strictly qualifying as an “Old Contemptible“, did lead troops in action in the year.
Grave: III.B.3. Killed in Action: 3 January 1916 Age: 42 ?
Personal: Alfred’s initiation into the Astrea Lodge (Freemasons), Machadodorp, Transvaal, South Africa, on 9 August 1905, gives a birth date of “about 1873” (i.e. aged 32), an occupation of “Lieutenant S.A.C.” (South African Colonial Corps) and a residence of “Belfast” (i.e. Belfast, South Africa). No record has yet been found to identify Alfred’s parents and/or any siblings.
Other records show that he married Maria Frances Madeline Davey, around 1905, in Umzinto, Natal, South Africa. Their only son, Henry Edward Illiot, was born in Belfast, S.A., on 11 February 1906. Maria was born on 8 June 1885 in Umzinto, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Her father was a long time resident of the area and her mother was born there. Maria and her parents remained in South Africa all their lives and Maria died there on 6 May 1967.
Alfred’s Medal Index Card shows that when his wife applied for his medals on 28 January 1920, only identified as “Mrs. A.E. Harry“. The address on the M.I.C. is shown as “Lily Pilla, Eastcourt, Natal, South Africa“.
The ‘Register of Soldiers’ Effects’ show that in September 1921 an amount of £25 10s 4d [£25.51 – equivalent to about £1,600 today – 2023] was returned to his “Administrator: Wilfred Fearnhead, Esq.” in South Africa.
Military Service: Alfred’s served as a Sapper during the Boer War with the 6th Battalion, 1st Imperial Light Horse, South African Colonial Corps (Number 787). He attained the rank of Lieutenant on 1st May 1901 (Gazetted 18th August 1901, p. 5336).
He relinquished his commission 25th March 1902 and granted the rank of Lieutenant in the Army “.. with permission to wear the uniform of the Corps.” (London Gazette, 2nd May 1902, page 2935).
Alfred qualified for the King’s South Africa Medal, with 2 Clasps.
Alfred was gazetted as Captain into 3rd Battalion, the Cheshire Regiment on 4th October 1914. (London Gazette, 23rd October 1914, page 8519).
He was posted to the BEF in France on 24th November 1914, and the War Diary for the 29th reads: “Battalion in billets: – Church parade. The following Officers arrived today: Capt H. S. Hodgkin, 1/Cheshire Regt, & took over command. Capt. A. E. Harry, 3/Cheshire Regt.”
The War Diary for 1st Cheshires shows the Captain was killed at 02.45 hours on 3rd January 1916 shortly after relieving the 16th Warwicks in trenches at “C2 subsector“.
The Battalion had been billeted at Bray on 1st and 2nd January until moved up to trenches at 17.00. He is shown as being buried at 11.00 on the 3rd at “the Citadel“.