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Alfred Sanderson Herd was born 4 April 1892 in Askham. He was the only son of Thomas, a Woodsman, and his wife Mary Annie (nee Sanderson). The family lived in Askham throughout Alfred’s childhood and it was there that his younger sisters Marian Isabel (1893), Emma (1898) and Annie Lizzie (1902).
By 1911 the family had moved to Beacon Cottage in Penrith. Thomas was now working as a caretaker and forrester and 19 year old Alfred was also working, as a cabinet maker. He was also a member of the Penrith Christ Church Choir. We know that he was also a keen footballer, and and was playing for Ullswater Rovers Football Club when they triumphed in the replay against Appleby in the Penrith and District Cup of April 1914, which Ullswater won 3-
Alfred joined the army in May 1915, and is likely to have joined around the same time as his football team mate Bernard Mulligan, who was the goalkeeper in the photo below and was also from Penrith. They both ended up in the Howitzer Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery. Alfred was initially deployed to the East Lancashire Howitzer Brigade in May 1915. Sadly in August 1916 Bernard died as a result of an injury sustained at the Battle of the Somme.
In September 1917 at the Battle of Ypres, Alfred, by then a Bombadier, was a member of South Midland Howitzer Brigade, attached to the 16th Division. He was acting as signaller between the artillery and infantry, a “hazardous and dangerous position” as was later reported. During fierce fighting his division was nearly wiped out and it was whilst helping to bring in the wounded that he was severely wounded in the thigh, and knocked out. He subsequently spent 3 months in hospital recovering. He was awarded a Military Medal for his actions, and was promoted to Sergeant.
After this Alfred was offered the chance to train to become an officer, and he joined an Officer Cadet school, where he remained until he was demobilised in February 1919. Alfred then returned to his former trade as a joiner, working for Mr G Brown. In April 1919 he was presented with his Military Medal at a ceremony in Penrith, by the Chairman of the Penrith Urban Council, Mr T Smith. Apparently it had taken the intervention of Mr Smith, with some “strongly worded letters to the Records Office” to make sure the Medal was received at all. Mr Smith said whilst presenting the medal that Alfred was “like all heroes … reticent as to the deed which won him the Military Medal”. He went on to say that Alfred had had a “very honourable record of service”, a comment which was met by warm applause by the assembled audience.
Later that year Alfred married Margaret A Frazer in Cockermouth. Unfortunately so far we have not been able to trace him from then until his death in Salford in March 1986, at the grand age of 93. If you can add anything to Alfred’s story or that of his family please contact us.
Sergeant Alfred Sanderson Herd MM
1266/840862 Howitzer Brigade, Royal Field Artillery
Born 4th April 1892, Askham. Died March 1986 Aged 93 Salford
Son of Thomas and Annie Mary (nee Sanderson) Herd
Husband of Margaret A Frazer
Player for Ullswater Football Club
The Ullswater Rovers Football Team in 1914. Alfred is pictured to the left of William Stockdale who has the cup (sitting to his right) . The other team members are named on our Ullswater Football Team page, including Bernard Mulligan, the goalkeeper at the back of the photo.
Alfred’s Medal Card
Gunner Bernard Mulligan, Alfred’s teammate who also served in the Royal Field Artillery, and died in August 1916