Alfred Edmund CRIPPS (1894–1915)
Alfred Edmund Cripps was born in Bampton in 1894, the son of John Thomas Cripps (born in Shilton in 1867) and Emily Elizabeth Sheppard (born in Bampton in 1869).
Alfred's mother had a child in 1887, before her marriage, whose father is unknown:
- John Henry Sheppard, later known as Sheppard-Cripps or Cripps (born in Bampton and baptised there on 26 June 1887)
Alfred's parents were married at Bampton Church on 2 August 1890 and had the following children:
- Elizabeth Emily Cripps (born in Bampton and baptised there on 18 February 1893)
- Alfred Edmund Cripps (born in Bampton and baptised there on 4 March 1894)
- Winifred Beatrice M. Cripps (born in Bampton and baptised there on 17 June 1900)
The 1891 census shows them living at Buckland Road, Bampton. Alfred’s father (24), was then a blacksmith’s assistant, probably working for his own father.
By the time of the 1901 census the family had moved to a cottage in Broad Street, Bampton. Alfred was now 7, his father (34) was a blacksmith in his own right, and his half-brother John was working as an errand boy.
In 1911 Alfred’s father was working as a blacksmith in Abingdon, living at 10 Cemetery Road there with his wife and daughters. Alfred’s brother half-John (23) was boarding in Leytonstone and working as an insurance collector, while Alfred himself (18) was working in Newbury as an assistant blacksmith to Frederick Brown.
Soon after that census both Alfred and his parents moved to Sunningwell, and from 1914 the firm Cripps & Son, blacksmiths is listed there in Kelly’s Directory. Alfred was a bell-ringer at Sunningwell Church.
At the time he joined the army in late 1914 at the age of 20 years and 11 months, his record states that he was 5'9" tall, weighed 134lbs, and had brown eyes and brown hair and a fresh complexion.
In the First World War Alfred Edmund Cripps signed up for three years' service with the Grenadier Guards at Abingdon on 28 December 1914 and was posted to the 4th Battalion of the Grenadier Guards on 28 December, serving as a Private (Service No. 21365). He was evidently destined to continue with his skills as a blacksmith, as he passed a Course of Instruction in “Cold Shoeing” at Lords Cricket Ground on 18 August 1915. He arrived in France on 5 October 1915, and was probably among the draft of 290 men and four officers that joined the battalion at the front on 9 October. He survived just over two weeks: he was killed in action opposite the Hohenzollern Redoubt at the age of 21 on 25 October 1915 and has no known grave.
Cripps is remembered on Loos Memorial (Panels 5 to 7), and on the war memorial in St Leonard’s Church at Sunningwell.
Left: Cripps’s name on the Loos Memorial. This photograph and that of the Loos Memorial and Dud Corner Cemetery (above) were kindly supplied by British War Graves.
Cripps was awarded three medals: the 1914–1915 Star, the British War Medal, and the Victory Medal, which were received by his father in 1920 and 1921.
Alfred Edmund Cripps’s parents
- John Thomas Cripps continued working in Sunningwell as Cripps & Son, blacksmiths until 1918.His wife Emily Elizabeth died at Abingdon at Christmas 1939 and he died at the age of 72 just a few weeks later near the beginning of 1940.
- John Henry Sheppard (born 1887), Alfred's half-brother, married Mary Whiting in Faringdon in 1909, and they had one child, Nancy Gwendoline Cripps, who was born in Swansea in 1910. He died in 1967 in Neath, Glamorganshire.
- Elizabeth Emily Cripps (born 1893) married Thomas Arthur Townsend, a munitions worker of Abingdon, at Sunningwell Church on 22 April 1916. They had four children, all registered in the Abingdon registration district: Arthur L. Townsend (first quarter of 1917); Phyllis J. Townsend (first quarter of 1920); John T. Townsend (fourth quarter of 1921); and Violet E. Townsend (second quarter of 1928).
- Winifred Beatrice M. Cripps (born 1900) married Frank Carter in the Woodstock district in the first quarter of 1920. She died in the Abingdon district at the age of 34 (registered first quarter of 1935).
- CWGC: Cripps, Alfred Edmund
- Wikipedia: Grenadier Guards
- Oxford Journal Illustrated, 24 November 1915, p. 6: Portrait photograph captioned “Private A. E. CRIPPS, Sunningwell, Grenadiers – Killed” (shown above with kind permission of Oxfordshire County Council, Oxfordshire History Centre)
- Oxford Mail, 7 September 2015: “Letter of tribute to mother of a war hero killed in trenches”