CWG: Stoker 1st Class Alfred Purton

Stoker 1st Class Alfred Purton

Alfred Purton was born on 10th November 1897, one of fourteen children to Daniel and Rosetta Purton. Daniel was a dock labourer from Bromley-by-Bow, East London, and this is where the family were raised.

When he left school, Alfred found work as a stoker at the local gasworks, but in 1916, he was called up to do his duty for King and Country. Given his family background and his own employment, it is little surprise that he enlisted in the Royal Navy as a Stoker 2nd Class.

Alfred’s service records show that he stood 5ft 5ins (1.65m) tall, had auburn hair, brown eyes and a fresh complexion, although he was noted to have moles on his legs and arms. His first posting was at HMS Pembroke, the Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham, Kent, and he spent a couple of months training there.

In October 1916, Stoker Purton was assigned to the cruiser HMS Dartmouth, which helped patrol the South Atlantic. During his nine months on board, his work was recognised and he was promoted to Stoker 1st Class.

In July 1917, Alfred returned to HMS Pembroke. The Dockyard was particularly busy that summer, and a large number of extra servicemen meant that he was billeted in temporary accommodation in Chatham Drill Hall.

On the 3rd September 1917, the first night air raid carried out by the German Air Force bombarded the town, and scored a direct hit on the Drill Hall; Stoker 1st Class Purton was among those killed instantly. He was just 19 years old.

Alfred Purton was laid to rest, along with the other victims of the Chatham Air Raid, in the Woodlands Cemetery, Gillingham. Tragically, the Navy Death Records state that he was Buried as unidentified in one of the following graves: 516, 522, 642, 735, 935, 937 or 948.

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