1888 - 1915
ALFRED CHARLES KETLEY was born in 1888 at Good Easter, Essex, the third child of eight children, two daughters and six sons, born to Charles and Alice Ketley (Kettley) (née Lee).
Charles and Alice were married on the 11th November 1881 at the Parish Church, Good Easter. Charles was a Labourer and lived in Chignal Smealey at the time of his marriage. Alice, aged 20 years came from Good Easter.
In 1891 the family were living at Winchmore Hill in Good Easter and Charles was an Agricultural Labourer. Alfred was 3 years old.
The 1901 Census shows the family still living at Good Easter, with Alfred now 13 years old.
By 1911, Alfred who had already enlisted at Warley, was serving as a Lance Corporal in the 1st Battalion, of the Essex Regiment. Regimental No. 8446, and was in B Company at Quetta, India. The 1st Battalion hurriedly returned to Britain in 1914 and joined with other returning garrison units to form 29th Division.
At the beginning of 1914, Alfred married Agnes Emily Cutts, who was a Domestic Servant to an Optician and Chemist in Chelmsford. Shortly after, their only son, Charles William Ketley was born on the 17th April 1914 in Chelmsford.
In May 1915, Alfred, now with the 2nd Battalion was in Ypres, in front line trenches. There was heavy shelling and the enemy attacked with gas – ‘a thick wall of 60-70 feet high of a greenish yellow colour was seen all along the front of the trenches.’ On the 13th May the Germans started a heavy bombardment with heavy artillery all along the front between Shell Trap Farm and Fortuin-Wieltje Road. They moved up to the support trenches, being very wet and cold, only to find that their packs and great coats had been ransacked and many things taken, presumably by the previous troops that had occupied the trenches.
Death and Memorial
On that day, there were 37 killed, 94 wounded and 49 missing. Alfred was killed in action, aged 27 years and was one of the missing at St Jean.
Alfred is remembered on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.
He is remembered on the War Memorial
St Andrew’s Church Good Easter
Alfred is also remembered on the War Memorial in Great Waltham.
Agnes, his widow, received the total sum of £6.7s.5d. on the 29th October 1915. On the 4th December 1915 a further payment of £12.14s.8d was made for his son. On the 29th July 1919 a Gratuity payment of £2.13s.4d was made to Agnes and on the 22nd September 1920, Charles, his son received £5.6s.8d.
Alfred was awarded the Victory Medal, the British Medal and the 1914 Star Medal.
Alfred’s brothers, Lawrence John and Clifford Ketley were also killed in action in France in World War 1.