Alexander was born in Whittington on January 6th 1890. He was the first child of Frederick Carlisle and Annie Wheatley.
The 1901 census shows the Carlisle family were living at 60 Newbridge Street Old Whittington.
Map courtesy Chesterfield Local Studies Library
Picture courtesy of www.picturethepast.org.uk
This shows Newbridge Street in the early 1930’s but gives an idea of the long row of terraced houses that stood there.
The family had grown and Alexander at 11 now had three brothers and one sister. Fred eight years, Dorothy five years, Jim two years and Willie 4 months. He is listed as attending school but I am unable to confirm if this was Webster’s Endowed on Church Street, however Alexander’s brother Fred is listed as attending Church Street school and therefore I would think there is a good chance that Alec did too! Webster’s Endowed now Mary Swanwick.
Alexander appeared to prefer Alec and I will refer to him as such from now on.
According to a newspaper report at the time of Alec’s death he was a very keen and well known local footballer. He played for The Mutuals and for the Old Whittington club which for a time had its headquarters at The Bulls Head.
Picture of Bulls Head circa 1900
The report goes on to say –
“Either amongst the half-backs, or occasionally in the forward line he did well. A clean player, he was highly popular, and was a clever shot at goal”.
The family were still living at 60 Newbridge Street by the time of the 1911 census, Alec and Fred had by this time followed their father’s trade and were working as coal miners, Alec worked at Grassmoor No 8 pit. The Grassmoor Colliery was known locally as the Barnes Collieries after the family that owned it.
Fred and Annie now had ten children all still living at home.
Later in 1911 there was a happy event for the family when Alec married Charlotte Hodgkinson, and on November 18th 1913 their son Frederick was born. According to the baptism register the family were living at 56 Newbridge Street, just a few doors away from Alecs parents.
For some reason the baptism took place at Chesterfield Parish Church rather than St Bartholomews at Old Whittington, possibly Charlotte had a connection with the Parish Church and chose to hold the baptism there.
At the outbreak of war in 1914 Alec must have felt compelled to enlist along with some of his pals. From the attached Roll of Honour, which was compiled for The Courier, it looks like Alec enlisted at the same time as his brother Fred, both going into the Notts and Derbyshire Regiment (Sherwoods).
Reading through the list you will see other names listed now on the War Memorials at Old Whittington!
Taken from The Courier Saturday 21st November 1914, the first wave of brave men enlisting from Whittington and Sheepbridge.
Alec joined the Notts and Derbyshire on 5th November 1914, according to the Medal Roll he joined the third Battalion, Service number 18445. The date that Alec entered a Theatre of war isn’t recorded on his Medal Card. As he doesn’t appear to have been awarded the 14/15 Star it would indicate he probably did not serve overseas until at least the beginning of January 1916. The Battalion he was in may have been held in Reserve. The Third Notts and Derbyshire was a Reserve Battalion held in Sunderland at Tyne Garrison, but I have no documentary proof this was the case and it is just a suggestion of what may have happened.
At some point Alec was transferred to the Lancashire Regiment and was promoted to Sergeant. He could have been transferred purely to make up the numbers, when a Battalion was depleted due to losses then men were transferred across, or he may have been trained in a new skill and was transferred where that skill could be used to the best advantage. Unfortunately, as with many Alec’s Service Record does not exist.
He first served with the 3rd Lancashire Fusiliers Service Number 24095 and ended serving with the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers. Again, the third battalion Lancashires was a Training Unit based in Hull, perhaps Alec requested a transfer to the ‘Front’.
His final Battalion the 2nd certainly saw action in France and Alec as a Sergeant would have been amongst the thick of it! The Sergeant was typically the senior non-commissioned rank in charge of a Platoon in an infantry battalion.
The Structure of the Battalion
The battalion was comprised of a headquarters, four companies and its transport.
The four companies were usually lettered A to D, although some battalions used 1 to 4 or W to Z. Each numbered 227 heads when at full establishment.
The company was commanded by a Major or Captain, with a Captain as Second-in-Command. Company HQ included a Company Sergeant-Major (CSM), a Company Quartermaster Sergeant (CQMS), two Privates acting as batmen and 3 as drivers.
The body of the company was divided into four Platoons, each of which was commanded by a subaltern (a Lieutenant or Second Lieutenant). The company consisted of 8 Sergeants, 10 Corporals, 4 Drummers, 4 Privates assigned as batmen and 188 Privates. Each Platoon was subdivided into four Sections.
Taken from www.longlongtrail.co.uk
Alec was in a very responsible position and the Sergeant was normally a very well respected member of the Company.
The 2nd Battalion were heavily involved in the Battles of the Somme. However, according to the Courier report Alec last visited his home in July 1916, when he found that his wife Charlotte who had been ill had died whilst he was away. Charlotte Carlile died between April-June 1916. I have no record so far of where their son Fred was sent to live when Alec went back to the front, but there were many Carlile family members in Whittington who I imagine would have taken him in.
Alec would have returned to see terrible scenes on the Somme and as far as I can ascertain from the War Diaries Alecs last battle was probably the Battle of le Transloy. The war Diary for 2nd Lancs Fusiliers 12th October 1916, the day Alec died.:
More information on the Battle of le Transloy can be found at
The Diaries give a small insight into what must have been horrendous conditions.
The Courier report states that ‘Alec was bringing four men into the trench when a shell came and killed all five of them, he had a good name and was well liked by all’. It sounds like Alec was a very brave man and was a well respected Sergeant, helping his men to the last!
Alec was 26 years old he was buried where he fell and reburied later in Combles Community Cemetery Extension, more information can be found here
Originally Alec was listed amongst the men remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, but this was crossed out and he is now listed as being buried in the Combles Community Cemetery Extension.
Thiepval Grave registration
The correct grave registration for Combles, unusually hand written.
The personal effects register shows that Alecs son Fred was to receive his personal effects.
Sergeant Alec Carlile
Alec was awarded the Victory and British War Medals
The remarks written on the medal card show that the Victory medal was returned at some point for an adjustment to be made, it may simply have been a mistake with the inscription that needed amending.
Alec’s brother Frederick survived the war and was awarded the DCM and the MM. This information kindly given by a relation of the Carliles, Malc Knowles. Sadly however, two cousins John and Percy both died, and are listed alongside Alec on the Whittington War Memorials.
As for Alec and Charlottes son Fred, I have found a recorded death in Lincolnshire in 2003 for Fred Carlile born on 19th November 1913, without further documentary evidence I cannot definitely confirm this is the correct Fred Carlile.
Excerpt from Derbyshire Courier 14th November 1916. (Also includes information on Alec’s brother Fred)
Fred Carlile was awarded the DCM 4th March 1918 the citation reads as follows: