328079, Private, Alfred James TURNER
Aged 33

1st Battalion, Cambridgeshire Regiment
(enlisted as No.6757, Cambridgeshire Regiment)
Killed in Action on Tuesday 31st July 1917

Born in Isleham in 1886. (Newmarket Q3- 3b:527), 1st son of Alfred Hales and Mary Elizabeth TURNER (née PETCH), of Church Lane, Isleham, Cambs.

1891 census...Alfred J [5] was at Church Lane, Isleham with his father Alfred H [31], his mother Mary B [29], sisters Ethel M [4], Olive J [3] and brother Victor S [2 months]. All were born in Isleham.

1901 census...Alfred J [15] a grocer's assistant, was at 55 St.Philips Road, Newmarket with his parents, sisters Ethel and Olive and brothers Victor and Bertram S. [7] born Newmarket, and his grandmother [67] Eunice PETCH and aunt [37] Eunice Petch.

1911 census...Alfred James [25], a grocer's assistant was at 9 Bath Terrace, Newmarket with his parents, sisters Ethel Mary and Olive Julia, and brothers Victor Stephen and Bertram Silas.

The inscription on the family headstone at Newmarket says Alfred was missing on 14th July, but that is at variance with official records

His brother Bertram died in 1918 in Colchester Military Hospital.. see here

His entry in "Our Exning Heroes" reads:
"Born in Isleham in 1886, and educated at local school, came to Newmarket on leaving school and entered the grocery business with Messrs. Lang & Co., and was there until war broke out, nearly 20 years.
He then joined up in the 1st Cambridgeshire Regiment, and trained at Halton Camp for the Signalling Section of that regiment.. He went to France after ten months training, and was there only two months when he was reported missing. Since then no definite news has been heard of any kind, so, on the instruction of the War Office, he is believed killed."

31st July 1917 was a day of death and glory for the 1st Cambridgeshires. The 1st day of 3rd Ypres (Passchendaele) they had seized Border House,near St Julien but then two platoons of C coy held off German counter attacks against 118th Brigade, 39th Division, while the remnants of the attacking battalions fell back and consolidated on the Steenebeke. One report enlarges on this aspect:
" During the offensive at St Julien. C Company had attacked and captured Border House, its objective, beyond the Hanebeek but, at a later stage, the position was outflanked and the survivors of the Company were ordered to fall back. A Runner with a bandaged head brought this message to Battalion Headquarters;
'I received a message by Orderly to retire, but as Capt Jonas, before he was killed, said we were not to retire without written orders from the CO, I am holding Border House. There are only three of us left alive and two of those chaps is wounded. I am holding Border House until I get written orders to retire. (Signed) Private Muffet. 7.30 pm.'

Of the 65 men of the battalion killed that day, only 9 have identified graves, the rest are commemorated on the Menin Gate

© Commonwealth War Graves Commission

No known grave - Alfred is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Belgium- Ref:panels 50 and 52
and also on the Roll of Honour of the Congregational Church, Newmarket
and his brother Bretram's grave in Newmarket Cemetery(H 684)

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