Alfred John Wren



Died : 17 October 1917

Alfred Wren portrait 



A Regular Driver since August 1909, Number 57850 Alfred Wren was in the Royal Field Artillery [R.F.A.]. He looked after and helped lead one of the many teams of horses in the XL Artillery Brigade. [To distinguish an Artillery Brigade from an Infantry Brigade the former were numbered in Roman numerals]. Such a Brigade had a Wartime Complement of 23 Officers, 772 Other Ranks, and, to haul all its equipment and 18pdr. Field Guns, 746 horses. When not engaged with the horses Alfred acted as Batman to a Major and in consequence earned a little extra and received a few ‘perks’ such as better food.

Alfred was born in Lewes during 1889, the son of Edward A. Wren. The family is said to have moved to Smith’s Lane, Ringmer and then to Acorn Cottage in Harvey's Lane where they remained for some time. He was married to Alice and they had one child. Alfred at one time worked for Mr Cotton of Oaklands on the Uckfield Road before joining the Army at Brighton. It was a regular source of income and a change from the usual labouring jobs of village life.

Driver Wren first went to France on 14th August 1914 with the 3rd Division. By 23rd August he was in action at Mons and involved in the famous retreat. As part of a Regular Army Division the Artillery was involved in many well known engagements throughout the War. Alfred saw action with Number 6 Battery in the Ypres Salient and especially at Hill 60 where he was wounded in the left side. The Divisional Artillery was involved in fighting on the Somme although not on 1st July 1916. They were involved in the Battles of Arras in April and May 1917 before returning to Flanders and the Ypres Front.

On 13th October 1917 the Brigade Batteries were dug in south of the Ypres to Zonnebeke railway line about four miles from Ypres itself. They were bombarded by 21cm and 15cm shells from 3.45pm to 4.55pm and two casualties were incurred. It is most likely one of these was Driver Alfred Wren despite the newspaper account stating he was wounded the next day. Although there was more incoming artillery fire and indeed enemy aircraft activity in the vicinity of our batteries on 14th October no more casualties were recorded for that day.

    Alfred was taken to a Casualty Clearing Station (C.C.S.) not far from Poperinghe in Belgium and died there of his wounds on 17th October 1917. He was buried in the Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery which adjoined the C.C.S. It became one of the largest British War Cemeteries for the First World War on the Western Front with 9,906 Allied burials.

In action in France since August 1914, Driver Wren naturally qualified for the Bar to his 1914 Star which his widow received together with his British War & Victory Medals. She later moved, first to live with her husband's parents at The Laceys, Glyndebourne and then to Upper Woodford, Salisbury.


Alfred Wren grave



Adapted from Valiant Hearts of Ringmer by Geoff Bridger: Ammonite Press, 1993