Albert Ernest Lovatt, Age 28
Private, 30557, 8th Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment.
Albert was born in 1889 at Lawley Bank, and with his parents James and Emily and Sisters Harriet and Gertrude were living at 11 Station Rd, Lawley Bank at the time of the outbreak of war. Albert and his family had been connected with the Lawley Bank Wesleyan Sunday School since 1893.
Albert had served an apprenticeship as a carpenter under Mr S H Breeze of Dawley and at the time of his call up was working for the Midland Bus Company.
He had enlisted in Smethwick on the 21st August 1916 and during his training had married Miss Elsie Bryce on November 12th 1916 at Malinslee Church in a ceremony conducted by the Rev. Parry, how much time that had together cannot be imagined as Albert was drafted to France at the end of that November. Elsie was the daughter of Mr John Bryce who ran the Greengrocers at Dawley Bank. John had already lost his brother Harry during the war.
During the Third battle of Ypres (Passchendaele), the 8th South Staffs (17th Northern Division) were in the line north of Langemack on the early morning of October the 12th 1917, The 8th South Staffs were part of the 51st Brigade and at 5.25am with the 10th Sherwood Foresters on their right and the 7th Lincolns on their left attacked north of the Ypres — Staden Railway line, The Staffordshire’s suffered heavily from machine gun fire and pulled slightly to the right but by 11.00 am the German ﬁrst and Second Lines had been taken but at a cost of 7 Ofﬁcers and 150 other ranks.
Albert was never seen again, but his story continues thanks to Elsie’s persistence about ﬁnding out about what happened to her husband. Albert during his training had become close friends with Private Frederick Rogers (30553) and after Albert’s disappearance during the battle, Elsie had written to fellow soldiers in their battalion trying to ﬁnd out what had happened, A Private J Butler wrote back to her a number of times and over the course of a couple of months the fate of Albert was uncovered.
Apparently, Albert and Frederick had gone over the top together and were last seen alive helping one another back to a dressing station, One or both being wounded, they never made it and in due course Elsie received conﬁrmation from the army that Albert’s body had been found and buried in the Cement House Cemetery in Grave XIIIE. 12.
With this news Elsie’s search was over but what she went through must be hard to imagine as the Army had ﬁrst listed Albert as wounded, then wounded and missing in action before ﬁnally listing him as killed in action. An article appeared in the Wellington and Shrewsbury Journal in January 1918 saying that it had been conﬁrmed that Albert had been killed on October 12th 1917 and that the Wesleyan Sunday school had draped the Dais in Black as a mark of respect to Albert.
Elsie and Albert’s family never forgot Albert and the following year in the In Memorandum column of the journal the following two pieces were placed:
LOVATT - Affectionate remembrance of my dear husband, Private Albert Ernest
Lovatt, reported missing, afterwards reported killed in action in Belgium 12th October
1917. Always remembered by his wife and all at 13 Dawley Bank, Dawley.
LOVATT - In ever loving memory of our dear son and brother Private Albert Lovett (30557 8th South Staffs) reported missing then presumed killed in action, Belgium Oct 12th 1917. “He loved not war but at his Country’s call he made the great surrender, leaving all, friends, plans, ambitions, all the hopes of years, he laid upon the altar with our tears” From sorrowing Mother, Father and Sisters.
Elsie never remarried and died in 1978 aged 87 still known as Mrs Elsie Lovatt.
A further part of the story came when I Visited Albert’s grave in Belgium and found that buried alongside him was his best mate Frederick Rogers (XIII.V.11).
Inscription added to head stone by: Mrs. E. Lovatt, 13, Dawley Bank, Dawley, Salop.
Peace Perfect Peace With Loved Ones Far Away In Jesu's Keeping We Are Safe And They
WWI Medal Rolls Index Card
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