A/Sgt 16837, 7th Bn, Norfolk Regiment
Died 13th October 1915, aged 30
Remembered at Loos Memorial
and on both Blakeney War Memorials
Alfred was born in Blakeney 1886, the 4th of five sons born to Edward Clifford and Anna Turner nee Buck. His siblings were Clifford John, Ellis Capps, William Buck and Harry Page, all born in Blakeney and living at Sunnyside (Blakeney House), the house built for them in the late 19th Century.
His brother, William Buck Turner, left for Canada in 1908 where he married Florence Kate Hagell in 1910. William then joined the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force at Calgary in December 1915, when he served in WW1 and lived to come home safely. He died at Nor-West (Miranda Cottage), Little Lane, Blakeney in 1964.
Alfred, aged 25, was the only son recorded at home with his parents and their servant by the 1911 Census. He was listed as “Corn and General Merchant, Shipowner”. Initially, he had wanted to join the Royal Engineers but found himself in Kitchener’s Army when he enlisted at Norwich, becoming part of a Service Battalion. His Battalion was part of the 35th Brigade at the Battle of Loos. Loos was noteworthy for being the place where the British Army used poisoned gas for the first time. The 13th October dawned a bright, sunny day with an ideal wind for moving a smoke screen towards the enemy line. However, in the early afternoon, just as the 7th Norfolks and 7th Suffolks began their advance, the smoke was inadvertently turned off in error, allowing the Germans clear sight of the impending attack. The ensuing losses were great and the 7th Norfolks were withdrawn the following day. The Battalion was soon back in their billets in Béthune. Their next move was to Vermelles, on the 26th, and from there to the front line on the 31st.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records that Alfred was amongst those caught in the ensuing crossfire on 13th October while his parents record a different scenario on the kerb surrounding their burial plot in Blakeney Churchyard. It would appear that they had reason to believe that Alfred died on the way to Vermelles. The inscription reads as follows; “IN LOVING MEMORY OF ALFRED EDWARD TURNER, AGED 29 WHO GAVE HIS LIFE FOR HIS COUNTRY BEING KILLED IN ACTION AT VERMIELLES BY A GERMAN SHELL OCT. 25. 1915.” Consequently the true circumstances of his death are uncertain.
Newspapers of the day, reporting at the time of his death in 1915, noted that … “he was partner of the well known firm of Messrs Page and Turner and did a lot of the market work of the firm, especially at Norwich, Lynn and Fakenham. As a lad he was prominent in athletics and known at many local meetings. He was for long the Hon. Secretary of the Blakeney Football Club. He was also a member of the Golf Club and a keen wildfowler.”
Alfred is remembered on the Loos Memorial in France and in Blakeney on both War Memorials as well as the north kerb of his parent’s burial plot.