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Alfred Branchett was the son of William and Phoebe Branchett of High Street, Boughton. He was reported missing on 18 November 1916, the last day of the Battle of the Somme, but his parents did not receive official notification of his death until six months later.
In the 1911 census, Alfred Phillips Branchett, was aged 14 and working as a grocer’s boy. Four years later, aged 18, he enlisted (on 5 December 1914), with the Royal East Kent Mounted Rifles (Duke of Connaught's Own), an old-established Yeomanry Regiment.
He did embodied (full-time) service, in this country until 21 September 1916, when he was posted to the British Base Depot in France. He arrived at the Infantry base near Etaples the following day. He was then transferred to the East Kent Regiment, The Buffs. Less than two months later, he was killed in action, on 18 November 1916.
Alfred Branchett was a painter by trade and was a member of the Boughton Division of the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade. He was also a Sunday school teacher at the Primitive Methodist Chapel, Boughton.
Private Branchett is remembered with honour at Regina Trench Cemetery, Grandcourt, Somme, France, where his grave reference is IX. A. 15, and at the War Memorial at St. Barnabas Church, Boughton.
Photos - Owen
Regina Trench Cemetery
National Archives in association with Ancestry.com. 1901 and 1911 England census database.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website: CWGC.org
Faversham and North Kent News
War Diary of the 7th Buffs Battalion
War Diary of the Canadian 4th Division
The Battle of the Somme started on 1 July 1916 when thirteen divisions of Commonwealth forces, supported by a French attack to the south, launched an offensive.The attack met unexpectedly fierce resistance, losses were catastrophic and the initial attack was a failure.
In the following weeks, huge resources of manpower and equipment were deployed. However the German Army resisted tenaciously and repeated attacks and counter attacks meant a major battle for every village, copse and farmhouse gained. Attacks continued throughout October and into November in increasingly difficult weather conditions. The chalky mud of the Somme area turned into a glutinous slime, and the onset of winter finally brought the allied offensive to a halt.