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Remembered Today:

8388 Pte. Alfred MARDELL - what happened to him?


barrieduncan

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Hi

I'm hoping that some of the detectives on the forum might be able to help me find out some more information on a soldier. His name is Alfred Mardell DCM, he served with The Cameronians in the First World War. He was a pre-war regular (appears with the 1st Bn on 1911 census - although 'entered in error') and from his number I'd guess he joined c.1906. He was a Londoner, born c.1886.

I'm interested in this chap as he's mentioned in an unpublished account in the museum collection written by an officer in the early 1960s. He paints a colourful picture of Mardell, although it's obvious he was very fond of him as well. I've been intrigued to find out what happened to him for some time now.

Recently I came across a document in the collection that suggests he might have died of flu while serving in Salonika. This would suggest that he transferred to the 11th Scottish Rifles (assuming he stayed in the Regiment), but the medal rolls only show service in the 1st and 1/8th (TF) battalions. His other numbers are 2039 and 291566, which I think suggests he transfers to the Territorial Force before the renumbering of the Force in 1917.

I've searched the CWGC and can't find a match. I'd really like to know what happened to this chap, and if he did indeed die while still in service. Any help or information that anyone can offer would be greatly appreciated.

For info, this is what is recorded on the document I mentioned - it's a typed document that has been framed - I suspect it was put together by the regimental museum some time ago to go along with his medal group:

Serjeant Mardell

1st Bn. The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles)

Private Mardell was a man in No. 12 Platoon, 'C' Company, 1st Bn The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles). In July, 1914, owing to the fact he had 29 cases of drunkenness on his conduct sheets, the then Commanding Officer (Lieutenant-Colonel Robertson) decided to apply for his discharge on the grounds that he was an incorrigible drunkard.

On the outbreak of the Great War, this application was destroyed and Mardell went to France with the 1st Battalion.

Early in 1915 he had his 30th case of drunkenness, he and his drinking pal, Private Chennels, having discovered a full rum jar.

Serjeant Forward, DCM., MM., (later Regimental-Serjeant-Major of the 2nd Bn.) was the Platoon Serjeant of No.12 Platoon and being a strict disciplinarian he was continually up against Mardell. At a place called La Boutillerie, during a raid on the German trenches, Serjeant Forward was wounded in the ankle and was brought in by Private Mardell under considerable Rifle and Machine Gun fire. For this gallant act he was recommended by Lieutenant-Colonel Chaplin for an immediate award of the D.C.M., which was telegraphed him from Army Headquarters. Thereafter he became an exemplary soldier both in courage and in his work. His repeated gallantry gained for him the Russian Decoration, the Cross of St. George. He was promoted Lance-Corporal, then Corporal and finally Serjeant and died, it is believed, of influenza at Salonika towards the end of the Great War.

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Thanks, Craig. I was struggling to find any casualty records that might match. I wonder if he just lost touch with the Regiment and they assumed that he never survived. Strange though that there is mention of Salonika and a possible death due to influenza...it's quite specific!

Appreciate your time checking.

Barrie

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1/7th Battalion
August 1914 : at Victoria Road in Glasgow. Part of Scottish Rifle Brigade, Lowland Division. Moved to Grangemouth.
11 May 1915 : formation became 156th Brigade, 52nd (Lowland) Division.
Sailed from Liverpool on 24 May 1915, going via Egypt to Gallipoli, arriving there 14 June 1915.
1 July 1915: after taking heavy casualties, temporarily merged with 1/8th Bn. Resumed identity 21 February 1916.
January 1916: moved via Mudros to Egypt.
17 April 1918 : moved with Division and landed at Marseilles for service in France.
When this battalion was formed in 1908 it drew upon the old 3rd Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers. This unit had formed the Third Lanark Football Club, which existed as a professional club until 1967 and is now resurrected as an amateur side.

1/8th Battalion
August 1914 : at 149 Cathedral Street in Glasgow. Part of Scottish Rifle Brigade, Lowland Division.
Record same as 1/7th Bn.
28 June 1918 : transferred to 103rd Brigade, 34th Division.

Seems these two started in Gallipoli went to Egypt and finished in France. If he was in this battalion then he either died earlier than noted or died in France or did not die at all..

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His drinking partner appears to be Pvt Albert Chennels, from the 1911 census. There is very little info on him, no mic or service record that i can find.

Does the museum know how they came by his medals?

Do you know the officers name who wrote the article?

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1/7th Battalion

August 1914 : at Victoria Road in Glasgow. Part of Scottish Rifle Brigade, Lowland Division. Moved to Grangemouth.

11 May 1915 : formation became 156th Brigade, 52nd (Lowland) Division.

Sailed from Liverpool on 24 May 1915, going via Egypt to Gallipoli, arriving there 14 June 1915.

1 July 1915: after taking heavy casualties, temporarily merged with 1/8th Bn. Resumed identity 21 February 1916.

January 1916: moved via Mudros to Egypt.

17 April 1918 : moved with Division and landed at Marseilles for service in France.

When this battalion was formed in 1908 it drew upon the old 3rd Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers. This unit had formed the Third Lanark Football Club, which existed as a professional club until 1967 and is now resurrected as an amateur side.

1/8th Battalion

August 1914 : at 149 Cathedral Street in Glasgow. Part of Scottish Rifle Brigade, Lowland Division.

Record same as 1/7th Bn.

28 June 1918 : transferred to 103rd Brigade, 34th Division.

Seems these two started in Gallipoli went to Egypt and finished in France. If he was in this battalion then he either died earlier than noted or died in France or did not die at all..

Cheers, Johnboy - this is what confused me about the reference to Salonika as the 1/8th never served there. I'm thinking it likely that he survived the war...unless he's been missed by the CWGC.

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The Russian award was The Cross of the Order of St. George 4th Class, awarded 1915.

https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/29275/supplement/8508

Thanks HarryBrook - the officer who wrote the account that sparked all this off for me wrote this:

...I had the pleasure of presenting Mardell with the ribbon of the Russian Order of the Cross of St George, for gallantry in the field. We were in the trenches at the time, and the Adjutant had sent by runner the ribbon, with a note from the C.O. to Mardell. In giving it to him, I had him brought before me. I put on a very stern air, and said in a very official manner, "Get this sewn on to your left breast, and be damned quick about it” and then laughing I shook him by the hand and congratulated him. True to type, all he said was "Christ what the bloody hell is this for?”.

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His drinking partner appears to be Pvt Albert Chennels, from the 1911 census. There is very little info on him, no mic or service record that i can find.

Does the museum know how they came by his medals?

Do you know the officers name who wrote the article?

Hi Peter - there is an mic for him but I think it's under Chennells (9077), he went to France with the 1st Bn on 15th August 1914.

From what I can remember the medals came to the museum a good number of years ago; I'd have to check and see for sure.

The account I mentioned in the original post was written by J. D. Hill, M.C. He went to France with the 1st Bn as a subaltern in 1914. The account is undated but we reckon was written around the early 1960s. It may be that Hill also wrote the biography quoted, or the person who wrote it had access to Hill's account as some of the details match.

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Hi Barrie,

From Paul Nixon's website, it looks like he probably joined up between February 1903 and July 1904.

Regards

Chris

Cheers Chris - I did wonder if it was slightly earlier than 1906, I had a number close to Mardell's given in April 1906, but I might have taken the year or number down incorrectly. Useful link, so thanks for that.

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I'd be pretty confident he survived the war and that he died later - if he'd died there would have been some evidence (Soldiers Effects, Soldiers Wills. SDGW, CWGC etc).

Craig

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I feel it only fair to share this section of Hill's memoir; I find it quite touching. In the account Hill had been describing part of the battalion's movements during the retreat when he goes on a slight tangent to describe Mardell and Childs (Bertie Childs/Childes 10945):

"I led No 12 Platoon of C Company. I had with me one of my Cpls, my servant No 10945 Pte Bertie Childs, and No 8388 Pte Mardell, (known as Dumbbell), who was my Platoon runner. My Platoon Sgt acted as "whipper in" at the rear of the Platoon. I feel I must stop here and pay my tribute to Mardell and Childs two typical soldiers of the old Regular Army. These two were in constant attendance on me. Wherever I went they came. They were beside me at every halt, and during the retreat we slept side by side. There was a very close bond between us.

Childs was a countryman, very quiet in manner and speech, and not given much to conversation. He was clean-shaven, rather full in the face, and slow and deliberate in his manner. This was deceptive, for although he was cautious, he was as quick and as agile as a cat if the situation demanded. There was no question as to his courage.

Mardell was completely different. He came from a Glasgow slum, a heavy drinker with a conduct sheet full of entries for drunkenness in peace time. He was also clean shaven, with a rugged countenance, deeply lined with high cheek bones and deep set eyes. He had a temperament that was always on the bubble, always cheerful, with a quick wit, and a dreadful flow of dirty language. He was also fearless and as strong as an Ox. He and Childs were the greatest pals, and both were my shadows. Later on in the trenches, when life had little to give, they did me innumerable little kindnesses, such as Mardell bringing me a mug of hot tea if they were "brewing up", or Childs covering me with his waterproof sheet, as I slept on the fire step, when off duty. There had been a slight drizzle of rain, and I never knew it until I woke and found what he had done.

Mardell's language was lurid in extreme and having used some filthy oath, as I pulled him up, would give a sheepish grin and say "sorry Sir". No officer could have wished for better men.

On a much later occasion, I had the pleasure of presenting Mardell with the ribbon of the Russian Order of the Cross of St George, for gallantry in the field. We were in the trenches at the time, and the Adjutant had sent by runner the ribbon, with a note from the C.O. to Mardell. In giving it to him, I had him brought before me. I put on a very stern air, and said in a very official manner, "Get this sewn on to your left breast, and be damned quick about it” and then laughing I shook him by the hand and congratulated him. True to type, all he said was "Christ what the bloody hell is this for?”. They are both dead, but I feel I must pay my tribute to two great and gallant comrades."

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I agree, Craig, the lack of any paper-trail for a death in service would suggest he survived the War. It would be good to know what happened to him after the War - he doesn't appear in the post-war enlistment books so I'm confident that he didn't stay with the Regiment beyond 1919/1920 (likewise he doesn't make any appearance that I could find in the post-war regimental journals).

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I agree, Craig, the lack of any paper-trail for a death in service would suggest he survived the War. It would be good to know what happened to him after the War - he doesn't appear in the post-war enlistment books so I'm confident that he didn't stay with the Regiment beyond 1919/1920 (likewise he doesn't make any appearance that I could find in the post-war regimental journals).

Death tends to bring a whole raft of records.

He would have been completely time-expired during the war so would have been free to be released at the end of the war. He probably took his discharge and left as otherwise he'd have to re-enlist for a new period of service.

Craig

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I was a bit surprised when I saw on the medal rolls that he also served with the TF (1/8th Bn). His new numbers suggest he was with them long enough to get a 6-digit number when the Force renumbered in 1917.

The 1911 census records him as being born in London, while Hill remembers him as coming from a Glasgow slum (I suppose both could be true). I might get some credits for ScotlandsPeople and see if I can find any mention of him there.

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The London electoral registers have an Alfred Mardell in Tottenham/Enfield in to the mid 1930's.

Craig

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I was a bit surprised when I saw on the medal rolls that he also served with the TF (1/8th Bn). His new numbers suggest he was with them long enough to get a 6-digit number when the Force renumbered in 1917.

The 1911 census records him as being born in London, while Hill remembers him as coming from a Glasgow slum (I suppose both could be true). I might get some credits for ScotlandsPeople and see if I can find any mention of him there.

I have some credits going spare if needed but I took a quick look and couldn't see anything,

Craig

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Thanks Craig, that's a great find in the electoral registers. I'll double check the Regimental Association reports in the off-chance he's listed...if he goes off-rader in the 1930s then that could well be him. I think I did check this out before though, but no harm checking again. Very kind of you to offer to check ScotlandsPeople - did a quick check and could see a death cert for a Fred Mardell but the age didn't tally so didn't bother checking it out.

Appreciate everyone's help with this.

Barrie

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If he was married, does anyone know his wifes name?

Electoral roll shows an Alfred and Edith in Tottenham in 1925

also an Alfred and Cecelia in 1949

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If he was married, does anyone know his wifes name?

Electoral roll shows an Alfred and Edith in Tottenham in 1925

also an Alfred and Cecelia in 1949

Edith was married to an Alfred E Mardell

Craig

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I've no idea of a wife's name, sorry folks. These are good leads to go on though, so thank you

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