|Census Year||Copy Found||Certificate Type||Copy Found||Associated Locations|
23 August 06
Alfred's life story is particularly fascinating for me, mainly because of the time he spent in the military. Born in 1889, (there are two possible entries in the register for his birth), he appears absent from the 1891 census, as are the rest of his family, though this is to be further investigated. Alfred's place of birth was Plumstead in London, so this will be the area to be concentrated on in the search. The 1901 census finds him aged 12 in Bethnal Green, with his two sisters Jessie and Edith. There is then a bit of a lull until a possible marriage entry was found in the register, it being Alfred G Pettit Q4 1912 Pancras 154. As there is no other information relating to a wife for Alfred, I am hoping that that the birth reference for the Alfred George Pettit in Pancras relates to the same Alfred G Pettit married in Pancras, leaving this Alfred's birthplace as Woolwich. The reason for this is that Woolwich has very strong military connections, and this may explain father William Amos's absence from the 1881 and 1891 census records.
The next piece of information found about Alfred concerned his death. As Alfred was of the right age to be involved in the First World War, a search of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website was carried out. The search revealed that Alfred was listed on the website, but his date of death was after the war had finished, and he was buried in the Wandsworth (Streatham) cemetery. This seemed somewhat unusual, so a search of the death registers was carried out, and a reference obtained and the certificate ordered. In the meantime, Alfred's medal card was found and a copy of it obtained from the National Archives website. It showed that Alfred entered France on the 8th December 1914, and that he was awarded the standard war medals. The CWGC site showed Alfred's army details, revealed that his regimental number was 5619, and that he had become a Company Sergeant Major in 3 Battalion, Coldstream Guards. It also showed that he had been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal, although this award was not shown on his medal card. A further search was carried out in two of the four Coldstream Guards War Diaries available through the National Archives website, and though some names are mentioned when awards were made, there was no mention of Alfred.
The death certificate duly arrived, and it made even sadder reading than usual. The certificate shows that Alfred died at his father's house in Balham, of influenza and pneumonia on the 25th February 1919. It seems very ironic that here was a man who had throughout the whole of the war, give or take a few days, survived all of that and then died in the great flu epidemic of 1918/19. He was just 30 years old, and must have been at the height of his powers, with a lot of living left in him. To survive all of those bombs and bullets, the muck and filth of the trenches, perhaps gas and countless other dangers, only to be finished by a virus seems cruel beyond belief, though of course the same thing must have happened to hundreds of other soldiers.
Having established that both Alfred and grandfather William were Coldstream Guardsmen, I contacted the Regimental HQ to see if they could search their archives to uncover their service records. I hope, if the searches are successful, to add more to the story of two remarkable members of the Pettit family.
Birth Certificate - Copy Held
The birth certificate shows Alfred being born to parents William Amos and Alice Pettit (Germain), on the 10th January 1889. Father William Amos, also shown as the informant, was a Police Constable at the time of the birth, and he was living at 50 Frederick place, Plumstead, Kent. The birth was registered on the 15th February 1889, the registrar being A J Raynes.
Death Certificate - Copy Held
The death certificate is the final chapter in the life of Alfred George Pettit, who survived virtually the whole of the First World War, only to return to his father's house some three months after cessation of hostilities to die of flu in the great epidemic after the war. The certificate shows that he died on the 25th February 1919, at 66 Carminia Road, Balham, aged 30 years. At the time of his death Alfred was a Company Sergeant Major in the Coldstream Guards. The causes of death were given as influenza 10 days, with pneumonia 8 days. Alfred died at the house of his father, William Pettit, who was present at the death, which was registered on the same day, the 25th February 1919. The registrar was Hilda C Smith.
Alfred's medal card shows that he was awarded the standard three war medals, and that he served in France during the war. His date of entry into the theatre was the 8th December 1914. The first rank showing on the card is Sergeant, the next is Warrant Officer II. He retained his regimental number of 5619 throughout the war.
|The details of Alfred's death were found on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. It is quite clear that the reference is correct, as it mentions Alfred's parents William Amos and Alice Pettit. Alfred died on the 25th February 1919. At the time he was a Company Sergeant Major in the Coldstream Guards, the same regiment as his grandfather. His service number was 5619, and at some time he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal.|