Albert Hewitt was born on 3rd January 1882, his parents were Jacob and Sarah. Jacob was a miner and they lived at Scarsdale Road Whittington Moor, off Dunston Road. He was baptised at Newbold church on 6th March 1882.
According to the 1891 census the family lived at 137 Scarsdale Road.
In 1891 Albert was the youngest child of the family and according to the census a scholar. Jacob and Sarah had 5 children living at home in 1891. However, checking the 1881 census it would appear that there were three other children. Alberts older brother and sister, Ann and George had already left home, and there was a sister Minnie who had been born in 1880. As Minnie doesn’t appear on the 1891 census I thought I would try and check what had happened to her. Sadly, she died in 1882 aged just 2 years and 7 months and is buried in Newbold churchyard. Infant mortality was quite commonplace in Victorian England but still must have been a severe blow for Sarah and the rest of the family.
By 1901 the family had moved and were living on Whittington Hill at number 38. Albert was still living at home and was an Iron labourer.
Jacob is listed as a widow, Sarah his wife had died early in 1901. The census for that year was taken on 31st March so that gives an indication when Sarah died. Jacobs elder sister Mary was still at home and she had married in 1900 to Joe Hollingsworth who is also listed along with their son.
In 1902 Albert married Minnie Booth at Newbold Church. Alberts residence at that time is given as Newbold and was now working as a miner.
Albert and Minnie had a daughter born in 1903, Gladys May, they had another daughter named Minnie born in 1905. There was a son Arthur born in 1908, according to the baptism register the family were living at Foxley Oaks Lane Old Whittington. Foxley Oaks is the along Newbridge Lane, past Gypsy lane.
According to the 1911 census below there was another daughter, who was 1 year old in 1911. The address on the census is 2 Newbridge Terrace Old Whittington. As we learn from a later newspaper report Albert worked at Markham Colliery
I have checked through the 1898 maps and 1919 maps of Old Whittington held at Chesterfield Local Studies Library and am unable to find a reference to Newbridge Terrace, but as you can see from the map below the Foxley oaks area of Whittington is clearly visible and Newbridge terrace may possibly be the cluster of houses shown just off Newbridge Lane.
Taken from the 1898 map courtesy of Chesterfield Local Studies Library.
Albert enlisted on the 27th December 1914, he joined the 12th Battalion Notts and Derbyshire regiment his service number was 21181.
The 12th Service battalion were formed at Derby on 1st October 1914 and were attached to 24th Division. In April 1915 they were converted into a Pioneer Battalion still with 24th Division. This is an explanation of the Pioneer Battalions. (www.royalpioneercorps.co.uk/)
Infantry Pioneer and Labour or Works Battalions
An early solution to the vast demand for labour was to create in each infantry Division a battalion that would be trained and capable of fighting as infantry, but that would normally be engaged on labouring work. They were given the name of Pioneers. They differed from normal infantry in that they would be composed of a mixture of men who were experienced with picks and shovels (i.e. miners, road men, etc) and some who had skilled trades (smiths, carpenters, joiners, bricklayers, masons, tinsmiths, engine drivers and fitters). A Pioneer battalion would also carry a range of technical stores that infantry would not. This type of battalion came into being with an Army Order in December 1914. In early 1916, a number of infantry battalions composed of men who were medically graded unfit for the fighting were formed for labouring work. They had only 2 officers per battalion. Twelve such battalions existed in June 1916.
Albert had another daughter, Nellie, born in May 1916. Albert was allowed home on compassionate leave and did meet his daughter briefly. He was killed in action on 10th August 1916.
Below is a transcript of an article written by Alberts grandson – under the name of Tom Bates taken from http://www.aboutderbyshire.co.uk/cms/people/a-tribute-to-my-grandfath-shtml this give far more insight into the life of Albert Hewitt than I can find from internet searches.
“Albert Hewitt was 34 years old and a reservist when war broke out in 1914 and he was recruited in Chesterfield, along with his friend Chris Loomes to be part of Kitcheners ‘New Army’.
Albert was assigned to the 12th Battn,. Sherwood Foresters Regiment, formed at Derby on October 1st 1914, whilst Chris joined the 1st/5th Battn., Sherwood Foresters, also formed at Derby in August the same year.
Both were held in reserve, and when they weren’t away at weekend combat training, they enjoyed a pint together in the Cock and Magpie, in fact Albert lived on High Street and Chris lived just around the corner on Church Street, with the pub in between the two.
A year later on August 10th 1915, Albert was mobilised and arrived in France with the Pioneer Battalion, and within a month a letter arrived from home notifying him that his wife was pregnant.
Nellie was born the following May, and when she was three months old her father was killed in action on the Somme.
Lance Corporal Albert Hewitt died at the Battle of Delville Wood on August 10th 1916, exactly a year to the day that he had arrived in France.
Nellie, now aged 90, and still living within sight of the war memorial at old Whittington, near Chesterfield, takes up the story.
“My mother was feeding me when she received the dreaded telegram to say that my father was ‘missing in action’, and she was so shocked that she dropped me. I was only three months old at the time, so I never really knew my father. He had been home on compassionate leave when I was born, and had only gone back in June”.
Lance Corporal Hewitt was part of the major offensive on the western front which began on July 1st 1916 as thirteen divisions of Commonwealth Forces launched an attack on the German lines near Gommecourt. The attack met unexpectedly fierce resistance and losses were catastrophic – almost sixty thousand men perished, including Albert Hewitt.”
Alberts body was never recovered, and he is commemorated on the memorial at Thiepval. The information about Thiepval can be found here
A newspaper article in the Derbyshire Courier 26th August 1916 reads as follows:
“Lance Corporal Albert Hewitt of Old Whittington, was killed in action on 9th August. He leaves a widow and five children. Prior to his enlistment on 27th December 1914 in the Notts and Derbyshire, he worked at Markham Colliery He spent some considerable time in France and experienced a lot of fighting. He was killed almost instantly by a shell. The sad news was conveyed in two letters, one from his mate and the other from the officer in command. In both notes words of comfort and consolation are extended to Mrs Hewitt, whilst the fine qualities of the Lance Corporal were outlined”.
Picture taken from same article.
Alberts medal card shows that he was awarded the British War and Victory medals together with the 14/15 Star. According to the medal card he arrived in France on 13th October 1915 not in August 1915, however I have noticed before on occasion that the date on the medal card doesn’t always tally. Whatever date he arrived Albert was a brave man and would have been sadly missed by all his family.
Albert is remembered on the memorials at Old Whittington and the Brushes.