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Alexander Herd 1899 - 1937 - Remembering a Forgotten Hero

Updated: Dec 1, 2020

Only known photo of Alexander Herd 1899 - 1937

With it being Remembrance weekend, I decided to write about an unsung hero of WW1, my husband’s grandfather, Alexander Herd. Alexander was born at Rock Cottage, Panbride, a small village outside Carnoustie on the east coast of Scotland on 3rd July 1899, he was the second child of six of William and Williamina Herd, William was a baker but came from a long line of fishermen.

Very little is known about Alexander Herd and nothing is known of his early life, seems to be the story of his life all the way through. It always struck me how little was known about him and yet because he did come all the way down to Suffolk and marry an Ipswich girl, he founded an extensive family down here.

When he’d only just turned 15, in September 1914, he joined the Royal Field Artillery and was a gunner. His address at that point was given as 9 Cardean Street, Dundee. I have next to no knowledge of military things so would be great if someone explained what this meant.

Sometime between then and 1917 he must have been in Suffolk, he met Rose Everett, an Ipswich girl, and they married in St Clements Church, Ipswich on 20th November 1917. They were both only 18 although Alexander Herd put “21” on the marriage certificate, and that he was a soldier. They were registered as living at 1 Rope Walk Place, Ipswich, other addresses Alexander and Rose were registered at were 9 Cardigan St., Ipswich and 41 Borough Rd., Ipswich, I believe these were all in the St Clements area of Ipswich and are largely demolished now. After the wedding Alexander would have had to go to the front line to fight.

Alexander and Rose’s first child, Violet Louvain Herd arrived in March 1918, and

at some point Rose Herd settled at 7 Dickens Road, Ipswich.

On the 11th July 1918, Alexander Herd was reported wounded in the War Office daily list number 5615. On some paperwork it says “GSW ankle” which I found out means “gunshot wound ankle.” When he came back to Ipswich he was wheelchair bound, and it looks like he lost half a leg, but he managed to pick up work as a nightwatchman for Ipswich Corporation, because he could do this in a chair. He was entitled to wear a “wound stripe”. This was 2” stripe of gold Russian braid which he would have been entitled to sew onto the left sleeve of his service jacket.

This photo is the only known photo of Alexander Herd, he must only have been in his 30’s but he looks like an old man, only know for sure it’s him because of the strong resemblance with Peter’s Dad and aunt. It’s obvious from this photo that his war experiences in the trenches wrecked his life.

Four more children followed, Alexander Frederick in Oct 1919, William in April 1927, Frederick Charles (Peter’s Dad) in Aug 1929 and Renee Dorothy (Dolly) in 1931.

Alexander Brown Herd died on 13th October 1937, at the age of only 38, of pulmonary tuberculosis (which would have been rife in the trenches in WW1) at his home in Dickens Road, Ipswich, leaving Rose on her own with 5 growing children. Alexander was buried in Ipswich Cemetery but there is no stone to mark his grave. About five years ago I contacted the cemetery and Peter, and I found the precise spot where he was buried.

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