Private Albert King

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Private. 2nd Battalion Duke of Wellington's (West Riding) Regiment. Service number 11559. First served 1898-98 with 1st Battalion, Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment. Service number 5753.

A black and white newspaper photograph of a British Army soldier. He is wearing a uniform jacket and cap with the badge of the West Riding regiment.

Early life:

Albert was born in Keighley on 10th November 1879 and his birth was registered in Keighley in the third quarter of the year. His parents were James King and Christiana King née Moor.
Albert was baptised along with his older brother Arthur on 6th April 1881 at St Andrew's Church in Keighley. They were living on Bengal Street at that time and James was a moulder.
In the 1881 census taken on 3rd April the address given was 17, Bengal Street in Keighley. It gives James' aged 50 employment as an iron moulder. Christiana aged 45 was caring for the family home and they had seven children who were: Sara E. aged 16 and a worsted spinner; John aged 12 and a bobbin pegger at a mill; Alice aged eight and a scholar then two younger boys Arthur aged four and Albert aged just one. Also living with them was Mary A. Emmott, their daughter aged 22 and a worsted weaver, her husband John Emmott aged 21 and a clogger plus their daughter Alice aged five months. The final member of the family living here in the census was Mary King, James' mother aged 78.

In the 1891 census Albert was aged 11 and living at 8, Croft Street in Keighley with his parents, siblings Alice, Arthur, plus John and Martha Emmott with their daughter Elizabeth. Albert was a scholar.

Parent's deaths: Christiana appears to have died aged 57 at Keighley in 1893 and James aged 68 at Huddersfield in 1898.

Previous Army service:

We found no Army service records for Albert's Great War service, but there is a set for his earlier Army service:
He enlisted at Keighley on 12th January 1898, for 7 years with the Colours and 5 years in the Reserve.
He was a labourer and he indicated he'd been an apprentice, that he was married and that he'd been imprisoned by a civil power. We suspect he didn't understand the questions, because we can find no evidence of any of these things being correct and we think he just said yes to them instead of no.
He stated he'd served with the 3rd Battalion West Riding Regiment, probably the local Volunteer Battalion.
His medical details were as follows: Apparent age, 18 years and 3 months; height, 5 feet 4, 1/2 inches; weight, 115 lbs; chest, 32 inches; complexion, fresh; eyes, blue; hair, fair; religion, Church of England. He was declared fit for the Army on 13th January at Halifax, which would be at the Wellesley Barracks on Gibbet Street, which is now the Halifax Academy School. His next of kin was his father James King of 4, Deadwaters, Huddersfield, Yorkshire.
His service commenced on 12th January 1898 and he was at Depot in training until 21st April when he was posted to the 1st Battalion, who were at Malta. He served with them from 6th May 1898 to 13th September 1898 when he returned 'Home.' During this period he was admitted to hospital with eczema once and three times for a sore throat.
He was serving at 'Home' from 14th September 1898 and admitted once more for a sore throat and then for 36 days for influenza in late March 1899. His health took a turn for the worse on 26th April 1899 when he was admitted for 28 days for heart problems. His Army form B. 179., 'Medical History of an Invalid' repeats most of his personal information which has already been stated, dates etc., but adds that his condition (10) was 'Ventricular Disease of the Heart (Mitral)' (known as V.D.H.)
(11) He was admitted to hospital at Dover on 22nd February 1899 with influenza. On getting up found to have a systolic brisk at the apex conducted outwards to axille. This becomes faint on lying down but loud & musical after any exertion. Heart's apex beats in 6th interspace nipple line. Impulse diffused. He complains of a continuous dull pain in the chest with shortness of breath on exertion. The disability does not appear to be the result of climate or military service. It has not been aggravated by intemperance, vice or misconduct.
(12) Not a gunshot wound nor injury.
(13) Not attributed to exposure or duty.
(14) May have been aggravated by drill marches & exertion incidental to his service as a soldier.
(15) The disability is permanent. Will debar him from laborious occupation & prevent him earning a livelihood about 1/3.
(16) Treatment was: Rest in bed, Belladonna locally. Digitalis, with strychnine & other tonics internally.
(17) He had not been previously proposed for medical discharge.
(18) Permanent unfitness.
Countersigned by J.C. Culling, Major, RAMC.
The medical board accepted the findings and recommended his discharge from the service on 25th April 1899. At the time he was 19 years and five months old.

In the 1901 census he was 21 and living with his sister Sarah, her husband Tom Smith and their three children. They had moved to 27, Outcote Bank at Huddersfield and Albert was employed as a chemical works labourer.
Albert was still living at this address and a 26 year old iron dresser when he married 22 year old spinster Emily Parker of 7, Dodd's Yard off Spring Street in Huddersfield. They were married at St. Peter's Parish Church in Huddersfield on 25th November 1905.
Tragedy struck after they'd had their first child. George was born on 12th May 1906, he was baptised at St. Peter's Church on 30th May. Sadly George died in infancy and his death was registered in Huddersfield in the third quarter of 1906.
They had four more children and the first three were Elsie, born on 5th November 1907; Alfred, born 11th May 1909; Annie, born 28th May 1910.
By the time of the 1911 census Albert and Emily were living at 1, Collins Yard off Duke Street in Huddersfield with their children: Elsie aged three, Alfred aged 1 year and 11 months and the youngest Annie was just 11 months old. At this time Albert was an iron dresser for a machine maker and Emily was a rug weaver for a rug manufacturer. The census shows they'd been married for five years and had produced four children, one of whom had died.
In 1914 they had another child called Willie, who was born on 6th February 1914.

War service:

There are no Army service records for Albert's war service but we know he was a reservist and somehow he managed to pass as medically fit for service when he rejoined the 2nd Battalion West Riding Regiment at Huddersfield in September 1914. Albert went overseas and arrived in France on 27th January 1915. We think he might have been part of a draft of 63 other ranks which joined the battalion at Bailleul, arriving with Lieutenant Sleigh on 16th February.

WO-95/1552/1 2nd Battalion West Riding Regiment war diary extract for 1915:

17/2/15. BAILLEUL:
Battalion paraded at 1.15 pm to march to DANOUTRE. Just as about to march off, move was cancelled & orders issued to stand by and be ready to move at one hour's notice. No subsequent move was ordered this day.
18/2/15. BAILLEUL:
Orders received for move as for preceding day, which, however were again cancelled. Later orders received to move to VLAMERTINGHE on 19th.
Battalion marched from BAILLEUL at 9 am and arrived about 3.30 pm. Quartered in huts about 1/2 mile South of village.
20/2/15. YPRES:
Battalion marched out by companies at intervals to YPRES. A & C Companies went to dugouts near ZILLEBEKE, and formed supports to Royal West Kent Regiment. Battalion HQ established near here, B & D Companies billeted in convent, YPRES. Two men wounded this night.
No Casualties. A & C Companies were relieved in evening by B & D, A & C returning to convent.
Battalion relieved Royal West Kent Regiment in trenches East of ZILLEBEKE. No casualties.
In trenches. Casualties 8 killed, 11 wounded. Lieutenant Griffin wounded.
In trenches. Casualties 6 killed and 16 wounded. Lieutenant Black & 60 other ranks reinforced Battalion. Battalion relieved in evening. D Company & 2 platoons of B formed supports. Remainder returned to barracks at YPRES.
D & B Companies in support dug-outs, were relieved in evening & returned to Barracks YPRES. No casualties.
Brigade was relieved in evening & battalion marched to VLAMERTINGHE & billeted in huts on road 1/2 mile South of village.
In billets cleaning up and bathing.
In billets at rest. Orders received to relieve 83rd Brigade on 1st March.

Marched from VLAMERTINGHE at 4.30 pm to relieve 83rd Brigade in trenches (D Sector) ZILLEBEKE. Teas issued in YPRES.
Moved from YPRES at ten minutes intervals in order C,B,D,A, starting at 7.30 pm. Relief completed 12 midnight. 2 casualties, slight, during relief.
Enemy shelled trenches 40/41/43/44/45, heavily between hours of 8.0 am and 11.30 am. Telephoned to artillery and enemy's guns were silenced.
Sergeant (CSM) Seccombe, B Company killed and three men wounded by enemy's sniper in the morning. About 6.30 pm enemy's patrol crept up to about (vide sketch) and threw hand grenades wounding 2 men. Patrol was driven off by rifle fire and some hand grenades were thrown, effect not known. One man (Private Gorman, D Company) killed by sniper.
Enemy fairly active during the night, snipers. During the day shelling was active also some bombing by trench mortars. Casualties one man killed, one wounded.
Relieved at night by Royal West Kent Regiment. Quiet relief, but very long.

The one man killed on this day was Private Albert King. Emily was notified of his death on 11th March 1915. He has no known grave and is named on panel 6 of the Ploegsteert Memorial.

His death was announced in the local Huddersfield newspaper with the following short account:
Information has been received from the War Office that Private Albert King, whose photograph appears above, has been killed in action on March 3rd. He was in the 2nd Battalion of the West Riding Regiment, and was a Reservist, and rejoined in September last. He lived at 2, Collin's Yard, Duke Street, and leaves a widow and four children.

Post war and Remembrance:

In the 1921 census Emily was living at 10, Duke Street in Huddersfield with the children Annie, aged 11; Willie, aged 7 years and four months; Alfred, aged 12 years and one month and Elsie, aged 13 years and four months. Elsie was out of work, but had been working as a doffer for Hough and Baileys cotton spinners, Turnbridge. Annie, Willie and Alfred were whole time at school.
Emily and the children were granted a widows and dependants pension of 22 shillings and 6 pence per week beginning on 13th September 1915.
As Albert's widow and sole legatee in his will, Emily also received his outstanding Army pay which amounted to £3 6s 9d on 4th August 1915. She also received a war gratuity payment of £3 on 23rd July 1919.
We have no records of this but it's likely she also received any personal effects, plus his medals which were the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory medal, plus the bronze war memorial plaque and a King's Scroll inscribed with his name. These usually arrived in early 1920 or possibly as late as 1921.
Albert is named on the Huddersfield War Memorial.

Emily died in 1938 aged 54.
Their eldest daughter Elsie married George Boothroyd in 1929 and they had at least three children, born in the 1930s. Elsie died in 1956 aged 48.

Information sources:

England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915
West Yorkshire, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1910
1881 England Census
1891 England Census
England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1837-1915
Series Wo 97 - Chelsea Pensioners British Army Service Records 1760-1913
1901 England Census
West Yorkshire, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1813-1935
1911 England Census
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919
Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929
British Army World War I Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920
World War I Service Medal and Award Rolls, 1914-1920
World War I Service Medal and Award Rolls, 1914-1920
World War I Pension Ledgers and Index Cards, 1914-1923
British Newspaper Archive
1921 Census Of England & Wales
1939 Register
England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007

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