Every Name A Story Content

Fletcher, A., Pte., 1916

Photo: Pauline Priano

On the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme is the name of 21915 Private Alexander Fletcher serving with the Northumberland Fusiliers who died 18/07/1916.

Pauline Priano has submitted the following:-

Alexander Fetcher, one of 12 children of whom only 7 survived and eight are known by name, of his known siblings was the 6th born of 7 sons and had an elder sister. His father George Fletcher was born in 1850 at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumberland, his mother Martha Ann Usson, in 1849 at Gateshead, County Durham, where they were married in the parish of St Edmund, April 3rd 1871. They settled at Sodhouse Bank, Gateshead Fell, (now known as Sheriff Hill, Gateshead), birthplace of daughter Elizabeth in 1874, John 1875, William Hall 1876, Robert Usson 1879, sadly their son William Hall Fletcher died, only 4 years old, in 1880. In 1881 their son Michael Forster Fletcher was born at Bywell, Northumberland (census 1881), but his birth was registered at Gateshead, where they were living at 42, Sodhouse Bank, George was employed as a potter at Sheriff Hill Pottery owned by Paul Jackson, also in the household was Pricilla Usson, his mother in law. George Jnr was born at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in 1882, but the family returned to Wrekenton, Gateshead, where Alexander and William were born in 1884 and 1887 respectively. George had moved his family to Ouse Burn Road, Heaton, a suburb of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, Northumberland by 1891, both he and son John (16) were employed as potters, the younger children with the exception of George Jnr were scholars. Ten years later they and their unmarried children were living at 10, St. Lawrence Street, Byker, George and Alexander (16) were pottery labourers, Robert (21) a mason’s labourer, by 1911 John. Alexander and George were still unmarried and living at home with their parents and a nephew, William Brugden (14), their sister Elizabeth’s child. They and their father were employed as labourers at the chemical works and were living in 2 rooms at 77, Shipley Street, Lemington, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumberland.

Alexander Fletcher was married in 1913 to Margaret Fleck, born December 23rd 1892, their daughter Charlotte Elizabeth was born August 8th 1913.

After the declaration of war with Germany, August 4th 1914, all regiments needed to raise new battalions. In answer to Kitchener’s call to arms between August 4th and the end of September 1914 half a million volunteers had come forward to form the New Armies and Alexander, who enlisted at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumberland, was assigned as Private 21915 to the newly formed 13th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers. Raised at Newcastle, after initial training close to home they moved to Halton Park, Lancaster, the first wave of men attached to the 62nd Brigade, 21st Division, departed to France in September 1915 and marched across France participating at the Battle of Loos.

Private Fletcher did not depart until October 7th 1915, and at the time his wife was pregnant with their second child. He joined his regiment in the field which had suffered huge casualties at Loos and were now preparing for their participation on the Somme. He would have received news from his wife of their daughter’s birth, March 27th 1916, whom they named Eleanor.

Due to commence June 29th 1916 but delayed by bad weather until the morning of July 1st, the 13th Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers was in action during the Battle of Albert, July 1st-13th and at Bazentin Ridge, July 14th-17th 1916. Private 21915 Alexander Fletcher Northumberland Fusiliers, initially reported amongst the missing and/or wounded, after extensive investigations as to his whereabouts is deemed to have been killed in action between July 11th-18th 1916, Margaret was given this news, August 10th. His sacrifice is recorded as one of the 72,315 names inscribed on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme. Thiepval, France, commemorating British and South African forces who died on the Somme before March 20th 1918 and have no known grave. His death came little over a year after the loss of his brother Private Michael Forster Fletcher, July 6th 1915. His brothers Robert Usson Fletcher and William Fletcher also served.

Margaret, of 53, St. Lawrence Square, Byker, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumberland, received all monies due to him from the Army, his awards of the 1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal, also a pension for herself and their two children until each reached the age of 16-years.

It should be noted that the CWGC have adopted July 18th 1916 as the official date of this soldier’s demise. The names of Robert Usson Fletcher and William Fletcher are included with those of their brothers in the list of men who gave their lives during the Great War on the memorial crucifix originally unveiled St Lawrence’s Churchyard and now within St. Silas Churchyard, Byker, they both survived the conflict.

George Fletcher died in 1925 aged 74 years at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, details as regards Martha Ann Fletcher nee Usson, unknown.

In God’s safe keeping. Rest In Peace.

Alexander Fletcher is remembered at Byker on B95.09 and B95.11

The CWGC entry for Private Fletcher

If you know more about this person, please send the details to janet@newmp.org.uk