|1. Grave:||Sanctuary Wood Cemetery||V.M.14|
|2. Book:||The (1921) Masonic Roll of Honour 1914-1918||Pg.115|
|3. Memorial:||The (1933) Scroll - Roll of Honour||60C GQS|
Awards & Titles:
|Queen's South Africa Medal 3 Clasps |
King's South African Campaign Medal 2 Clasps
Volunteer Long Service Medal
Coronation Medal (1903)
Coronation Medal (1911)
Royal Humane Society Medal Bronze
Early Life :An extensive piece of research and wealth of documentation collated by great-grandson of Alfred is available via the Western Front Association website entitled "Revealed: The soldier with two families. How The Western Front Association's Pension Records helped unravel a family mystery." See W.F.A. for further detail, some of which is recorded below.
See also:Great War Forum.
Alfred was born 1867, eldest son of William Beckley and Horatia B. Baker, of 49, Cardington Street, Hampstead, London.
- The Second Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902, South Africa.
- The First World War 1914-1918, World-wide.
|Unit :||1st Battalion London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers)|
|Attached :||58th Coy, Labour Corps|
|Action :||France & Flanders|
Newspaper Article Source and date unknown - Portrait image above included: "A Recruiting Record.- When the Territorials were mobilised, at the commencement of the war, Staff Sergeant A.N. Baker, 1st Battalion City of London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers) was among the first to volunteer for foreign service. But his superior officers knew from past experience his worth at home, and he found himself posted to headquarters, Handel Street, King's Cross, as regimental recruiting-sergeant. At the time orders were received for the battalion to proceed to Malta, the strength was 350 below the establishment - 1008. Staff-Sergeant Baker was given four days in which to fill up the ranks, and he did it. The men were enlisted, clothed and equipped, an went out with their comrades. Next, Lord Kitchener wanted a reserve battalion, and the full complement was enlisted, medically inspected and attested in a little over a fortnight. Staff-Sergeant Baker has thirty-two years Volunteer and Territorial service to his credit. Ten of them he spent in the old 3rd London R.V., on of his officers being Colonel [...] of the Royal Fusiliers Reserve Battalion. the first medal he received was that of the Royal Humane Society, for saving seven lives at the launching of H.M.S. "Albion," at Blackwall, June 21, 1898 by our present King, then Duke of York. His other medals are the Queen's South African (three clasps), the King's South African (two clasps), King Edward's Coronation, King George's Coronation, and the Volunteer long service. The trophies shown were won at billiards. He has been Territorial champion since 1910; he carried off the challenge cup of the Veteran's Club, which has 5,000 members, and when in camp at Swanage, two years ago, he easily defeated the champion of Devon, Somerset and Dorset. Staff-Sergeant Baker's height is 6ft., and he is the shortest of three brothers, one of whom is a Sergeant-Major of the Army Service Corps with the first Canadian contingent for the front; the other is a trooper in the 2nd Dragoon Guards (Queen's Bays)."
A rare book written by the commanding officer of the 58th Labour Company, Captain T. C. Thomas, O.B.E., M.C., entitled: “With A Labour Company in France – Being the War Diary of the 58th Labour Company”, had been found and purchased by Alfred's great-grandson. In Chapter 10, an account is made of Alfred's demise:
“Shortly after midnight, I was awakened by the sergeant of the guard with the sad news that my C.S.M. had been killed on the railway near the camp. He had left the train at Bailleul and was proceeding by road to join us. Reaching Beythem, he had accepted a lift in a light railway train from the main road to our camp, but at the first points the truck jumped the rails and threw him under the tractor, killing him instantly.
It was a great shock to us all. Sergeant-major Baker was an old veteran, the wearer of a long row of ribbons, who had by his courtesy, tact and consideration, endeared himself to everyone. We buried him the next day in a soldier’s plot in Beythem cemetery, amidst unusual regret that so gallant and honourable career should be terminated in such a terrible fashion.”.
France & Flanders covers all the dates and corresponding locations which are outside the official battle nomenclature dates on the Western Front. Therefore the actions in which these men died could be considered 'normal' trench duty - the daily attrition losses which were an everyday fact of duty on the Western Front.
Citations & Commemorations :The records of the Royal Humane Society show he was awarded its Bronze Medal in June 1898 (Case number: 29541) citing the "the disaster on 21st June 1898 (see Angus, William. Case 29525) rescued two women". This refers to the incident of the Disaster at the launch of H.M.S. "Albion" at Blackwall into the River Lea. At least three video footage accounts of this event exist from different perspectives around the dock and available for view on You Tube:
1. British Film Institute: Elevated perspective of dock.
2. Source unknown: Bystander perspective.
3. British Movietone Opposite Dock perspective.
|Type||Lodge Name and No.||Province/District :|
|Mother :||Zetland No. 515 E.C.||Malta|
|Joined :||Unity and Progress No. 3723 E.C.||London|
13th December 1915
10th January 1916
23rd February 1916
Masonic Obituary - A Sprig of Acacia - Original source unknown date most likely to be October 1918 prior to armistice. It is replicated in full as a document on the WFA site:
"BAKER, Company Serjeant-Major Alfred N., of the 158th Labour Corps who was killed in action on 20th October, in Flanders was one of the best known and highly popular Masons in Fleet Street. He was fifty two years of age, Serjeant Baker had a brilliant army record, and many opportunities of obtaining a commission, even when in South Africa, but he preferred to remain with "the boys". He joined the City of London Volunteers as a youth, fought through the South African War and, from the start of the present struggle until his death on the field of honour, on every front excepting the Italian and Russian fronts having seen active service in France (twice), Flanders (twice), Gallipoli, Mesopotamia, Egypt and Africa. Serjeant Bakers's three long rows of ribbons on his tunic bore testimony to the numerous medals which were bestowed on him, and still another which were bestowed on him form the Royal Humane Society for saving life in connection with the Princess Alice disaster at Blackwall. In civilian life Serjeant Baker was one of the best known characters in Fleet Street, and indeed throughout the City and West End. It was said of him that he could not walk from Aldgate to Westminster without being greeted every fifty yards by some close personal friend. His popularity was due to his unquenchable optimism and to his manly appearance. Serjeant Baker was equally well known in sporting circles and he was the holder of the Territorials Billiard Championship. As a Mason he was passed and raised in the Zetland Lodge No. 575 Malta (English Constitution) and became a joining member of the Unity and Progress Lodge No. 3723. He was also a member of several other degrees, including the Royal Arch, Knights of Malta, and Knights Templar. He was a member of the Malta Masonic Charities Association, and had subscribed to the English Charities. Serjeant Baker was the proprietor of the London Billposting Company, and in connection with his work he came into contact with the whole of the Publishing Department of the leading London morning, evening, Sunday and other weekly newspapers, the magazines, periodicals etc. His loss is mourned by thousands of friends. Serjeant Baker spent his last leave from the front in London, at the end of August last. His many war souvenirs included a German Officer's Iron Cross (First Class)."
In the research conducted by family assisted by the efforts of the Great War Forum the obituary contains some inaccuracies, firstly establishing that Alfred served only once in France and secondly that the disaster at Blackwall involved H.M.S. "Albion and not the "Princess Alice." It can also be noted that Zetland Lodge has never been historically numbered as 575.
The Masonic Roll of Honour shows that this soldier was submitted for entry under Unity and Progress Lodge. On their records it shows that this was not Alfred's mother Lodge and also that he was "Killed 1918". His mother Lodge, as shown in the obituary above, is cited to be Zetland Lodge No. 515 where the register goes all the way to 1921 (payments to 1919) and upon which an exclusion is recorded 31st December 1921 - suggesting that his subs were paid 1918-1919 and Zetland didn't know he had perished, leading to exclusion after two years arrears. In fact, many masons were "written off" at this date, the point of transition to a new set of Contribution Ledgers.
Discrepancies (Require checks, clarity or further research) :
Zetland Lodge is recorded as Hampshire and Isle of White whereas the records of United Grand Lodge show that this Lodge (at least at the time) was in Malta
The project globally acknowledges the following as sources of information for research across the whole database:
- The Commonwealth War Graves Commission
- The (UK) National Archives
- Ancestry.co.uk - Genealogy, Family Trees & Family History online
- ugle.org.uk - The records of the United Grand Lodge of England including the Library and Museum of Freemasonry
Family : Dave Taylor Researcher : Bruce Littley