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 parents were married at Bampton Church on 2 August 1890 and had the following children:

  • John Henry Sheppard, later known as Sheppard-Cripps or Cripps (born in Bampton three years before his parents' marriage and baptised there on 26 June 1887)
  • 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 older brother John was working as an errand boy.

In 1909 Alfred's older brother John Henry Sheppard Cripps (born 1887) married Mary Whiting in Faringdon.

In 1911 Alfred’s father was working as a blacksmith in Abingdon, living at 10 Cemetery Road there with his wife and daughters, 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 as a volunteer 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.

Loos Memorial Loos Memorial

Poppy In the First World War Alfred Edmund Cripps signed up at Abingdon on 28 December 1914 for three years' service with the Grenadier Guards and was immediately posted to the 4th Battalion of the Grenadier Guards, 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.

Sergeant A. May wrote thus about Cripps to his mother:

For a man who was absolutely fresh to the terrible business of war, he was exceptionally cool and collected. During the first night of his French experience, my captain ordered me to obtain volunteers to mend our barbed wire in front of the trenches. This, you will quite understand, is a pretty dangerous business. Nevertheless, your son at once came forward and volunteered to go out with the party.

Volunteer bombers were called for and, once again, your son volunteered, although having no knowledge of bombs or the throwing of them. He, however, soon found out how to. He went into the firing trench and by his help and that of the other volunteers, the attack was successful.

A few days later the letter states that the Captain, who was ordered to find out the condition of the German barbed wire defences,

called for volunteers for a patrol to go and find out the necessary information. Here again, your son volunteered and together with a section commander, they obtained this valuable information. Though engaged on an especially perilous task, he seemed to have no fear. It was very early the following morning, just after dawn on October 25, that I very deeply regret to say your son was very seriously wounded and died a very few minutes afterwards. He could have had no pain whatever and we buried him simply but reverently in a soldier's grave just behind our trench. I wrote his regimental number, rank and name on his wooden cross. To express my high opinion of him as a soldier, I painted under his cross these few words – “Peace, perfect peace, to a truly gallant soldier”.

Cripps on Loos Memorial

Cripps's grave must have been lost, as he is now only 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, all of which were received by his father in 1920 and 1921.

Small memorial


Alfred Edmund Cripps’s parents
  • His father John Thomas Cripps continued working in Sunningwell as Cripps & Son, blacksmiths until 1918. His mother Emily Elizabeth Cripps died at Abingdon at Christmas 1939, and just a few weeks later, near the beginning of 1940, his father died at the age of 72.
His siblings
  • John Henry Sheppard Cripps (born 1887)and his wife Mary Whiting had one child, Nancy Gwendoline Cripps, who was born in Swansea in 1910. At the time of the 1911 census John  was working and living at 3 Williams Terrace, Swansea with Mary and baby Gwendoline. John 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).


See also