All text and images © Helvellyn Consulting 2021
Albert Earnest Bennett was born in North Shields in 1893. His father William was a sailor. He was born in St Margarets Leicestershire in September 1854 and had married Albert’s mother Margaret Ann Baker in Tynemouth in 1878. He had enlisted for 10 years service in the Royal Navy at the age of 18 in September 1872. By 1881 he was listed as the “Captain Fore Top” on board HMS Malabar a Euphrates-
By 1901 the family were still living in North Shields although Alice had left home, marrying Richard Allen in 1900, and then following his death in 1902, Thomas Best in 1904. At the time of the 1901 census Albert’s father William was listed as being aboard the HMS Poplar. On the 3rd April 1904 Albert’s mother died aged 45 whilst living at 47 Bell Street in Tynemouth of emphysima and chronic bronchitis. It appears 10 year old Albert continued to live with his sisters, settling with his elder sister Isabella, who married around 1905 to a man called Frankland. By 1911 Isabella’s husband had died and she was living at 18 Church Street in North Shields, and working as a Housekeeper. By then she had a 5 year old son, Thomas W Bennett Frankland. Albert’s elder brothers William and Edwin were also living there and working as labourers. Albert was also there and was listed as a 17 year old Soldier in the special reserves of the 3rd Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers. He is also listed in the 1911 census at their Barracks. It is likely that this was a territorial unit and we know at some point around this time he also had a job for 9 months working as a Clerk in a post office in Acklington.
On the 4th December 1912 he enlisted with the regular army. In early 1915 he married Ada Walton from Glenridding, daughter of the Glenridding Postmistress, and sister of Thomas and Amos Walton. We know that shortly after this, on the 17th April 1915, he embarked for France as part of the 1st Signal Company of the Northumbrian Royal Engineers. This unit was assigned to the 28th Division of the Army until June 1915, when it transferred to the 50th (Northumbrian) Division. They saw action at the Second Battle of Ypres and and the Battle of Loos in 1915 and 1916, and all the way through the War. We know that Albert must have been home at some point around March 1916 on the basis that Ada gave birth to their first child, Dorothy, at the end of 1916.
At some point in between 1916 and 1917 Albert was wounded, and on the 21st May 1917 he was honourably discharged under Section 392 (paragraph xvi) King Regulations due to wounds received on active service overseas. At this time he was back in Glenridding with Ada and Dorothy and living at Gowbarrow House.
We know that at some point Albert and Ada moved down south where Albert started work as a “Surveyor and Sanitary Inspector”. We know this because in 1924 their son Alan was born and they returned from Alton to have him baptised at St Patrick’s Church in Patterdale, where Albert’s new occupation was duly noted in the Parish Registers. After this we have no further record of them until they are mentioned in the obituary of Ada’s brother Amos Walton, in 1951 -
In terms of the rest of Albert’s family we are grateful to the Campbell Family Tree on the ancestry website for more details. We are not entirely sure when Albert’s father William died, although we think he was still alive in 1911 and living as an unemployed labourer at 36 Thames St Wallsend On Lyne. It’s possible he died in 1924 in Tynemouth. Earnest’s eldest sister Alice died in 1961 with 11 children. Sister Isabella died in 1952. William died in 1963 and Frances in 1972.
Albert’s other brother Edwin was tragically a casualty of World War One. He joined the Northumberland Fusiliers and was serving with the 10th Battalion when he was killed at the Battle of the Somme on the 7th July 1916.
We are not sure when Albert of Ada died, or what became of Dorothy and Alan, but if you can add any further details to their story please contact us.
Sapper Albert Earnest Bennett
1929/463186 1st Signals Company Northumbrian Royal Engineers
Born 1893, North Shields
Son of William A and Margaret Ann (nee Baker) Bennett
Husband of Ada Walton of the Post Office Glenridding
Father of Dorothy and Alan
Albert’s Medal Index Card (above) and below his entry in the Silver War Badge Book
A letter from Albert’s Service Record
Albert’s father William’s Naval Service Record above and below a picture of HMS Malabar on which he served