Albert Alexander

Author: Deirdre Duff
Date published: 28/12/2020


My father "was in a beach town (forgot but will confirm later today*). In a bomb shelter with his regiment" (?). 
"They were just exiting the shelter when another bomb dropped near by. The first man out was killed instantly the next two relatively uninjured.  The fourth was Albert and he received minor shrapnel injuries, one of which was a cut by his mouth. This is the cut that later became infected and ultimately took his life.
(*  Later remembered as Southampton.)
Dictated by Alexander’s daughter Sheila Leblanc (who would have been seven years old at the time) to her daughter Sheila Leblanc.
I have trawled some 30 attestation records under the name of Albert Alexander - no match.  Forces War Record just confirms his regimental number and that he was a driver in the ASC.
There are two clues in the above record:

First -  His regimental number is prefixed by the letter "T" so he would have served in the Horse Transport, and
Second - he was in the 101st Company ASC, 14th Divisional Train. With 3 other ASC Companies they served with the 14th (Light) Division in France and Belgium on the Western Front until the end of the Great War. They would have moved supplies by horse or motor to the front line units.  The 14th (Light) Division crossed the Channel in 1915.

The following is a quote from the website The Long, Long Trail:
" Each Division of the army had a certain amount of transport under its own command, known as the Divisional Train. It was the "workhorse' of the Division in terms of carrying stores and supplies, providing  the main supply line to the transport of the brigades of infantry and artillery and other attached units.  It initially comprised 26 officers and 402 other ranks of the Army Service Corps, looking after 378 horses, 17 carts, 125 wagons and 30 bicycles. These comprised a headquarters and 4 Horsed Transport Companies (one for each infantry Brigade and one for Divisional HQ and other troops).  The Train moved with the Divisions.  In all, there were 364 ASC Companies of this type."
However with no paper trail, there is no way of establishing where he was stationed.  

He would have  joined the Army Service Corps pre 1918. The Corps received the "Royal" prefix late 1918 in recognition of its major undertakings in supplying the troops in WW1.
He was awarded with the British War Medal and the Victory Medal (sometimes referred to as “Mutt and Jeff”).
Deirdre Duff July, 2019

And again to “Biographies and History’:-

I have come across a article written by Mike Barrett, Professor of Biochemical Parasitology, University of Glasgow, dated 23 May 2018, and he states:
" Recently, an aunt of mine told me a story of an old friend of hers, Sheila Leblanc.  Sheila is the daughter of Constable Alexander.  What's more she is still alive and living in California.  I emailed Sheila with some questions. She explained how, when her father died in 1941, she and her brother were taken into care at the Southern Provincial Police Orphanage in Surrey as their mother, Edith, needed to work.

"In the 1950's, Sheila fell for an American serviceman. They married and moved to the USA and she's now lived there for over 60 years.  It wasn't until the 1960's that Sheila's family discovered the role of Albert Alexander in the footnotes of medical history, when a German journalist appeared at Edith Alexander's doorstep asking for a photograph of penicillin's first patient.

"It turns out that the infamous rosebush was apocryphal,although Sheila recalls that the police house did have a beautiful rose garden.  The fatal cut, near Alexander's mouth, occurred during a German bombing raid in Southampton, where he had been posted to maintain order during the Southampton Blitz of November 1940."

Sources:as above

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