PRIVATE ALBERT WILLIAM HALL
31ST JULY 1916 AGE 21
BURIED: PUCHEVILLERS BRITISH CEMETERY, FRANCE
Albert William Hall was his parents' eldest son. They only had two children. He lived in Gloucester where his father was a "deal porter" someone who handled baulks of softwood, unloading them from ships and stacking them sometimes 60ft high in warehouses.
In 1911, Albert, aged 16, was a telegraph messenger, someone who delivered telegrams. His brother, Walter, aged 14, was a 'Corporation employee'.
Albert enlisted soon after the outbreak of war. He served with the 8th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment, which was raised in Bristol in September 1914. The battalion went to France on 18 July 1915, the day Albert's medal index card says he arrived in France. He died of wounds in a Casualty Clearing Station on 31 July 1916. The previous day the battalion war diary had recorded:
"Attacked the German intermediate line, A & B Coys in front line, C & D Coys in second line. Our attack was held up by enfilade machine gun fire and concealed snipers from the right. Our men returned to their original front line at 9.30 pm. Casualties, Officers killed 8, 3 wounded, 3 missing. The Co Major Thynne was wounded in the body while urging on the second line. Other ranks 160."
Unfortunately whoever wrote up the diary never indicated whether that was 160 other rank casualties - killed, missing and wounded - or 160 killed. Nevertheless, it had been an 'expensive' raid in term of casualties. Albert Hall was most probably one of the wounded; the battalion had not been in the front line for some considerable time before it.
Hall's mother, Henrietta Hall, chose his inscription. Whilst there were several hymns that declared Christ "died for me", there are none that say "he died for me and for me only" so it would seem that Mrs Hall was not quoting but giving a piece of her own mind.
It's rather an extraordinary inscription. There are plenty that say 'He died for us', 'He died for others', 'He died for you', 'He died for you and me' but I have not come across another one that says 'He died for me and me only'. Mrs Hall was not going to share her son with anyone else - even his father and his brother.