MURPHY, Alfred Harold

L/14185, Private, Alfred Harold MURPHY
Aged 19

4th Battalion, Duke of Cambridge's Own (Middlesex) Regiment
presumed died on 23rd August 1914

An Old Contemptible

Alfred Harold MURPHY was born in Preston on 14th October 1894 (Preston Q4-1894 08E:645) son of Alfred henry and Annie MURPHY (née CROSBY) His father married Clementine LINFORD n St Neots in 1897. His mother's details or parents marriage have not been been found. His paternal grandfather was a Baptist minister

1901 census...Aged 6, he was at the Wesleyan Schoolmaster's house in St Neots, with his father, Alfred Henry MURPHY [29] born Swindon, a commercial traveller; his stepmother Clementine [30] born St.Neots. Their hosts were Arthur and Alice HALL.

1911 census...Aged 16, he was an electrical engineering apprentice, boarding at 4 Vulcan Street, Bedford with Martha Nunn. His father and stepmother were still with Arthur and Alice Hall in St Neots.

In 1912 he enlisted in the Army

He attested in Tottenham on 24th July 1912, giving his age as 18 years 9 months (thereby adding one year). His occupation was given as electrician's mate with references from Adam's of Bedford. He was 5ft 6 inches (167.6 cm) tall; weighed 154 lbs (69.9 kg) chest 36" to 38 " (91.4 cm to 96.5 cm) with grey eyes and brown hair. His religion was entered as C of E. His father's address given as Avenue Road, St Neots.
Enlisting for 7 years in the colours and 5 in Reserve, he was posted to the 4th battalion, Middlesex Regiment on 6th September 1912. He had a mixed disciplinary record, but mainly minor offence. His UK posting was at Devonport, where he very quickly managed to contract the "soldier's recreational diseases and was actually still undergoing treatment when posted to France.
He was posted to the the British Expeditionary Force on 12th August 1914. The first British exchange of rifle fire took place on the 22nd and he was missing, presumed dead the next day
On Army Form 5050 on 2nd May 1919, his father, now living at 16/17 Prince Street, Bridlington, recorded that his mother was dead. This was not Clementine since she lived until 1928.

His entry in Du Ruvigny's Roll of Honour :- MURPHY, ALFRED H., Private,No 14185, 4th Battn.Midlesex Regt.,s of Alfred Murphy, of St.Neots, co.Hunts; served with the Expeditionary Force, died ? 23 Aug.1914.

The first shots of the Battle of Mons were exchanged on the morning of Sunday 23 August, when the 4th Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment thwarted the German cavalry who were trying to the cross the bridge over the canal at Obourg. By 10 a.m., artillery fire had intensified, and it was seen that they faced a large German force. Despite being outnumbered, the British soldiers on the south bank of the canal fought on throughout the day. Many were reservists who had returned to the army only weeks before, but thanks to the level of rifle training and their discipline, their fire inflicted heavy casualties on the Germans. The sheer weight of German numbers and the accuracy of their artillery however meant that they struggled to hold on and the first German soldiers crossed the canal. By mid-afternoon German infantry were crossing in force and by nightfall, the Battle of Mons was over and the British began a long, hard retreat towards Paris.

Alfred Harold Murphy is buried in St.Symphorien Military Cemetery, 3:A:36

click here to go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website for full cemetery/memorial details