Tuesday, 28 April 2015

WW1 - Alfred Edward Naunton

Alfred Naunton was born in London in 1881, married Louise Fairman in 1900 and joined the GPO in June1902, aged 20.
He, his wife and five young children moved down to Hampshire from Battersea in 1912 as he joined the newly-opened Post Office at Bordon Camp. Rev. Laverty wrote “A Bordon postman came January 1912 to Eashing Cottages (Headley) and moved on in 1912 to Elm Cottages, Lindford”.
At some time between 1915 and 1916 the family moved to The Straits and the children attended Kingsley School.
Alfred enlisted at Whitehill and joined the 5th Dorsetshire Regiment, (No. 18152), probably in 1914 and by his death in 1917 he was a Lance Corporal with D Company XV Platoon.
He was involved in the heavy fighting at the Chalk Pit near Beaumont Hamel during the Battle of the Somme in January 1917. His family heard nothing from him and it was assumed he had been taken prisoner, but in July 1917 a letter was sent to Mrs Naunton from the British Red Cross (via Susan Lushington) informing her that his name was not on any official lists of prisoners. And it was not until February 1918 that a further letter came from the Enquiry Department (at the Red Cross) for Wounded and Missing which said:
We much regret to say that not withstanding constant and careful enquiries, we have not been able to hear anything of L/Cpl. A. Naunton and have come to the conclusion that he must have lost his life at the time when he was missing. We have questioned all the men of his unit whom we have been able to see, both in English hospitals and at the bases abroad, and none of them has been able to throw any light on his casualty……….We wish to offer our sincere sympathy to the family and friends.”
Signed on behalf of the Earl of Lucan.
So for over a year Mrs Naunton, with her five children, would have heard no news about her husband.
Alfred is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing (Pier & Face 7B) which is dedicated to those who fell on The Somme and have no known grave and his name is also on the Bordon Post Office’s Roll of Honour and on the Bordon War Memorial.

There are several references to the Naunton children in the Parish Magazine and in the Kingsley School records. Alfred (aged 10) won a three-legged race in the Empire Day celebrations in late May 1916 and was collecting for the Red Cross in November 1916 and Rose and Alfred had plots in the school garden in July 1917, with Rose winning a prize. Alfred’s wife, Louise Naunton, is said to have played the piano at the Bordon barracks as entertainment for the troops.
One of Alfred’s grand daughters, Winnifred Evans, takes up the account :
After the war Gran (Louise) moved back to London and in 1919 the family, Gran and five kids, moved to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The children ranged from 18 to 8 years. We are still trying to understand why the family moved to one of the coldest places on earth….We wonder what kind of propaganda was being spread that Gran decided to move there instead of Florida!
All five of Alfred and Louise’s children stayed and died in Canada.

In 1921 Louise, now living in Edmonton, received Alfred’s Memorial Scroll and a letter from the king and later a Memorial Plaque (or Widow’s Penny). However probate for Alfred’s will was not granted until July 1923.

Footnote
In the 1960s one of Alfred’s daughters, Rose, visited Kingsley to find the house in the Straits where the family lived. She met with Mrs Taylor who lived there at that time.

Rose (nee Naunton) with Mrs Taylor and Mrs Taylor’s mother-in-law at The Straits
In 2013 Rose’s daughter, Winnifred sent me a tremendous amount of material ( including the 1960s photo) about her grandfather for which I am most grateful.

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