61308 SGT. A. SNAPE. R.E.
Alfred Snape was born in the third quarter of 1884 in Bamber Bridge. His father was Thomas Snape (b. 1857 in Preston), a steam roller engine driver. His mother was Mary Livesey (b. 1858 in Walton Le Dale). Thomas and Mary were married at St Saviour’s in 1877 and they had 11 children (at least): John James (b. 1877), Henry (b. 1879), Elizabeth Ann (b. 1881), William (b. 1883), then Alfred, then Alice (b. 1888), Margaret (b. 1891), Ellen b. 1892), Jane (b. 1894), Sarah (b. 1896), and finally Fanny (b. 1900). In 1910, Alfred married Margaret Lovatt (b. 1884 in Fleetwood). The 1911 Census shows Alfred and Margaret had a daughter Mary (b. 1900), but the household also shows two stepchildren, Theresa (b. 1903) and Richard (b. 1906) Lovatt. The family lived at 3 Club Street and Alfred was working as a road scavenger for the borough council. When Alfred enlisted the family had moved to 1 Spinners Square and he describes his trade as ‘horseman’. The couple must have had more children as Margaret was later awarded a pension for herself and five children. In fact, there is extensive correspondence in his war file to show that Alfred was the father of Theresa and Richard, and also shows the couple’s other children were Thomas (b. 1912) and William (b. 1914).
Alfred enlisted with the Royal Engineers (H T) on 6 February 1915. He was assigned service number 61308 and posted to 128th Field Company. During training in 1915 Alfred was promoted to Corporal and 128th Coy embarked for France on 27 August 1915. Alfred was briefly in hospital in September 1916 and then allowed 10 days’ home leave at Christmas that year. He was promoted to Sergeant on 25 April 1917.
Alfred was killed near Dikkebus, south west of Ypres, on 31 August 1917. The newspaper article explains what happened:
He was 33 years old and left a wife and 5 children.
Service Number: 61308
Date of Death: 31/08/1917
Regiment/Service: Royal Engineers, 128th Field Coy
Cemetery/memorial reference: IV. C. 1.
Cemetery: THE HUTS CEMETERY
Additional Information: Husband of Margaret Snape, of 1 Spinners Square, Bamber Bridge, Preston.
Margaret received a parcel containing Alfred’s belongings and she noticed that a watch was missing – Alfred had two and only one was returned. She says that she knew he had it because he had shown both watches to ‘a brother’ the day he was killed. The brother was Thomas.
680286 GNR. T. SNAPE. R.F.A.
Thomas Snape was born on 13 July 1897. He was Alfred’s youngest brother and in 1911 he was living with his parents, six siblings and their grandfather at 332 Station Road, Bamber Bridge. Aged 13, he had started work as a cotton weaver. Tom had signed up with the Territorials before the War and was initially assigned service number 1345, which after 1917 was changed to 680286. He was posted to 276 Brigade and he landed with 55th Division in France on 30 September 1915. Further information about 276Bde in France can be found here. This page tells what was happening to Tom’s Brigade and where they were at the time Alfred was killed.
In 1918, Tom’s Brigade was involved in the defence of Givenchy and then from the beginning of October to the very end of the War on 11 November, they were engaged in pushing the German’s back into Belgium and at the end of the War they were at Pipaix. In April 1919, still in Belgium, Tom married a local girl, Augusta Collette De Witte (b. 1894 in Antwerp). Augusta was a couple of months pregnant at the time and the couple moved back to England when Tom was demobbed, and in November 1919, they had a son, André. Tom Snape died in 1929, aged 31. I don’t know the precise details but it’s more than possible his early death was the result of war service. Augusta stayed in Bamber Bridge and in 1934, she married Frederick Howard Davenport who himself had served in the Artillery, though in a different Brigade from Tom. His family story can be read here.
Alfred and Thomas had another brother, Henry, who also served in the War. Henry was born in 1879. He married Betsy Alice Parker in 1903 and the couple had two children and moved to Preston (which may be why Henry is not on St Saviour’s Roll of Honour). Henry enlisted with the Royal Field Artillery on 9 March 1915, he was assigned service number L/10641 and posted to the 149th (County Palatine) Brigade and later transferred to 165th Brigade. His medal card shows that he landed in Egypt on 26 December 1915 (so he qualified for the 1915 Star). He served with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force in 1916 and later that year went to France. At Hébuterne in June that year Henry was hospitalised suffering from severe bleeding, the result of piles. He had suffered from this condition and been operated on in 1911 but the condition returned. He came back to England for further treatment in Liverpool but this was unsuccessful. He refused further surgery and was discharged from hospital in August 1917. He returned to light duties and appears to have served out the War in the Reserves. After the War, Henry ran a newsagent’s at 49 Lovat Road, Preston.
Eight men with the Snape surname are listed on St Saviour’s Roll of Honour and it’s a fair assumption that they are all cousins. Alfred and Thomas are described above and I have managed to trace military records for three more of them.
G. SNAPE Gordon RGA
G. E. SNAPE George Edward RFA
W. SNAPE William RGA
So what are the family connections?
James Snape (Alfred Snape’s grandfather) was born in Preston in 1828 and in 1855 he married Elizabeth Ann Howard. They had five sons: Henry (b. 1856), Thomas (b. 1857), James (b. 1859), William (b. 1865) and George (b. 1866). The family moved to Bamber Bridge in 1865.
Henry continued to live in Preston and has no connection with Bamber Bridge. He married but the couple had no children.
Thomas was Alfred and Thomas’s father
James married Mary Eliza Harrison at St Saviour’s in 1881 and they had eight children including William and Gordon. They also had a James who could be one of the J Snapes.
William married Emma Martin at St Saviour’s in 1890 and they had five children, including another James and also an Edward, who is probably the E Snape.
George married Amelia Willingham at St Saviour’s in 1893 and they had three children. George Edward was one son, and another was Arthur, who could be the A Snape.
William Snape was born in 1887. In 1915, he was married to Jane Ann Holden and later the same year he enlisted in the Royal Garrison Artillery. He was assigned service number 141352. He was called up in March 1917 and went to France on 18 May that year. He served first with 159th Heavy Battery and in October 1917 he was transferred to 87th Siege Battery. He had two weeks’ home leave from 15-29 December 1917. He was demobilised in February 1919. William emigrated to the United States in 1921 and became a naturalised citizen in Sutter, California in June 1927. He died at Hillsborough, San Mateo, Calfornia, in 1961.
Gordon Snape was his brother, who also served in the Royal Garrison Artillery. He enlisted on 28 November 1914 and served with the Lancashire Heavy Battery. His initial service number was 1677 which was later changed to 308706. He was demobilised on 2 January 1919. He paid a visit to his brother in California in the summer of 1939. I don’t know if he managed to get back or if he had to sit out the war in California. However, he did return eventually and he died in Bamber Bridge in 1979.
George Edward Snape was their cousin. Born in 1895 he first enlisted in 1911, when he claimed to be nearly 18 but was in fact still only 16. He joined the West Lancs Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery and was assigned service number 990. He trained with the Brigade at their summer camps, at Kirkham in 1912 and Pembrey in 1913 and began his embodied service on 5 August 1914. He was mustered as a gunner on 10 October 1915 but remained in the reserves until he was sent to France on 9 December 1916 where he joined 307 Brigade. At some stage he was given a new service number, 172918 and he also had 682029. He suffered a gunshot wound to his right arm on 14 December 1917. He was treated in hospital in France and returned to the front on 2 January 1918. He was gassed on 15 February and eventually on 2 March sent back to England for treatment. He was gassed again (presumably mustard gas as he also required treatment for burns) on 27 March 1918 – during the German Spring Offensive – and he remained in various hospitals until 17 July 1918. He was demobilised in February 1919. George returned home and at the end of the year he married Elizabeth Baxter (b. 1898 in Bamber Bridge). He died in 1966.
The Second World War also claimed two more Snape family lives.
Alfred’s youngest son William (b. 1914) was killed in 1942. He was married to Nancy Farrington in 1941 and the couple lived in Leyland. He was called up and served as 1826607 Gunner William Snape in the Royal Artillery, 21 Lt A. A. Regt. He died on 12 November 1942. His ashes are preserved at Yokohama War Cemetery, from which we know that he died as a prisoner of war in Japan.
George Edward and Elizabeth Baxter had a son, Thomas Edward, who was born in 1920. I don’t know the circumstances of his death, but he was 14340145 Driver T E Snape, in the Royal Engineers. He died on 18 March 1943 and is buried at St Leonard’s in Walton Le Dale.