20063 PTE. R. ALSTEAD. L.N.LAN.R.
Robert Alstead was born on 23 October 1878 in Bamber Bridge and baptised at St Saviour’s on 10 November. His father was Anthony Alstead (b. 1833 in Cuerden), a cotton spinner. His mother was Elizabeth Parker (b. 1831 in Leyland). Anthony and Elizabeth were married at St Saviour’s in 1855 and they had 9 children, Robert being the youngest. The others were Ann (b. 1856), Margaret (b. 1859), Ellen (b. 1861), Robert (1863-72), Elizabeth (b. 1865), William (b. 1868), Mary Jane (b. 1873), and Alice (b. 1876). His mother, Elizabeth, died in 1899, and in 1904, Robert married Emily Hough (b. 1876 in Preston). Robert and Emily had two children: William (1905-12), and Amy (b. 1913). In 1911, Robert, Emily and William were living at 14 Cambridge Road, Bamber Bridge (William died the following year and Amy was born in 1913). Robert was a cotton spinner. They shared the house with 3 of Emily’s siblings, Edward, Joseph and Florence Hough.
Robert attested he was willing to serve in the army on 6 February 1915. He joined the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and was assigned service number 20063. After and initial period in the reserves and in training, he was posted to 6th Battalion and then sent to Gallipoli on 15 October 1915. 6Bn had landed in Gallipoli on 4 August and by the time Robert arrived with reinforcements the main fighting had ended and both sides were dug in, in appalling conditions. The winter was especially harsh. The Regimental War History states:
During November more reinforcements arrived, both in officers and other ranks, and by the end of the month the strength of the battalion was fifteen officers and 619 NCOs and men. On the evening of 26 November a terrific rainstorm came on and in a few minutes every dug-out and trench was flooded out. The Division occupying the flat ground to the right of Chocolate Hill was washed out of its trenches and there were several casualties from drowning, while the Salt Lake came right up to the foot of Chocolate Hill. Then, on a sudden, the wind swung round to the north and fell upon the wrecked and inundated scene with an icy blast. For nearly two days and nights snow descended in whirling blizzards, and two days of bitter frosts succeeded the snow. The surface of the pools and trenches froze thick. The sentries and outposts in the advanced trenches could not pull the trigger of their rifles for cold. Few can realise the suffering of those days.”
Robert fell victim to the cold. He was evacuated first to Malta, suffering from frostbite and rheumatism, but in Malta he was also diagnosed with a heart condition. He made it back to hospital at Eastleigh but was then discharged as no longer medially fit for active service. He returned home to Bamber Bridge where he died on 11 July 1918, aged 39.
Service No: 20063
Date of Death: 11/07/1918
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 3rd Bn.
Cemetery: BAMBER BRIDGE (ST. SAVIOUR) CHURCHYARD EXTENSION
Robert’s nephew was Anthony Alstead (b. 1893 in Bamber Bridge). Anthony joined the RFA with the other Briggers in May 1915. Before the war he was a clerk in the housing department and he became Battery Quartermaster Sergeant. So he was 680851 BQMS A. ALSTEAD. R.F.A. He survived the War, married in 1920 and died in 1973. I have found no military records for a W Alstead (on St Saviour’s Roll of Honour).
The article about the Hough family appeared in the Preston Guardian in early 1915. The Hough brothers were Robert’s brothers-in-law. In the picture, Robert is far right. For more information about the Houghs see here.