Thursday, 16 June 2016

Remembering them ...... 100 years after the Battle of the Somme part 1 Southern Cemetery and Claude Alsop

As we approach the centenary of the Somme preparations across the city are well in hand to mark the Battle which began on July 1 1916.

Claude Simpson Alsop, 1890-1916
There will be a service in the Cathedral, events at Heaton Park and an act of remembrance in Southern Cemetery attended by Major David Charron of the Royal Canadian Army.

And it is the ceremony in Southern Cemetery which will be the first of a series of events I want to feature.

July 1 is also Canada Day and there are twenty-six men of the Canadian Expeditionary Force buried in the cemetery.

Recently I wrote about one of these men, and today I am looking at another.*

By chance I chose the grave of C S Alsop.  I was drawn to his grave because of the small Canadian flag someone had left beside it.
Claude Simpson Alsop had been born in 1890 in Bristol, enlisted in the CEF in May 1915 and left for Europe the following March.

He was wounded in June and died of those wounds at 8.15 pm on July 25 in the Royal Infirmary in Manchester.

Just before he died he made his will leaving everything to his half sister who lived in Balham in London.  The house which is still there is a fine late 19th century end terrace.  His his father’s home at Claremont Crescent, Weston super Mare has also survived although now a little run down it was once a very impressive property.

Canada in Khaki, 1917
I had wondered if Claude Simpson Alsop was a British Home Child like Thomas John Loveland, who is also one of the twenty six.*

But not so. In 1911 he was 21 years old still living at home with his parents and six siblings.  He described himself as a “Drapery assistant” and his father ran a business making furniture.

I haven’t yet found any records of when he left for Canada but it will be after the April of 1911.

I do know that before enlisted he was working as a salesmen and lived at 298 Grey street, London Ontario.

The house or its successor is still there and is a typical timber clad building.

The probate details of his will confirms that he left everything to Almira Dorothy Alsop which amounted to £1417.

At the time she was 23 years old and had moved to Balham, and there the trail stops, although if she didn’t marry there may be a record of her on the electoral register somewhere but as she doesn’t appear on the registration of deaths I can only assume she changed her name by marriage.

J William Montgomery, 1892-1918
All perhaps a long way from Southern Cemetery and even further from Ontario. In time I will try looking for their siblings and there is a descendant listed on ancestry who I will contact.

In the meantime I will be there on July 1 in the cemetery.

The service starts at 10 in front of the memorial and afterwards I will join David Harrop in the Remembrance Lodge with his exhibition commemorating the Somme which to mark Canada Day he has included memorabilia from the CEF.

It will be a special day for me.  Not that I think there is a direct family connection between me and Claude Simpson Alsop, but more because as many know my great uncle was a British Home Child who also enlisted in the CEF in 1915 and saw action on the Western Front.

His sister later migrated to Canada and that side of our family still live not that far from Grey Street, in London.

So despite a century and another continent there will be something which connects me to that young Canadian soldier.

Location; Southern Cemetery

Pictures; graves of some of the twenty-six men of the Canadian Expeditionary Force Southern Cemetery, 2016 from the collection of David Harrop

*Discovering the story of one British Home Child, born in London, migrated to Ontario and buried in Manchester,

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