Private Alfred William Baker was born July 20th 1896 in Hackney, London, the first son of Rosendale and Alfred Baker. He grew up in Hackney with his five siblings and four half siblings.
Alfred William was Rosendale and Alfred Baker’s first child. At the time of the census in April 1901 the family were living at 76 Church Rd. Hackney. His father was working as a Metronome Maker and his mother was a Boot Machinist, as well as taking care of 8 children. In 1911 Alfred was still living in Hackney with his family and had left school but was unemployed.
Alfred was working as a Paint Grinder when he enlisted in the Royal Marine Light Infantry just over two years later in August 1913. He was in training at the Royal Marine Barracks, Deal, and at the Royal Naval Barracks, Chatham till he joined the crew of the Laurentic on November 24th 1914. In September of that year the Laurentic had been commissioned as a troop transport for the Canadian Expeditionary Force, joining a convoy of 32 ships that transported 35,000 Canadian soldiers to Europe in October 1914. When Alfred joined the Laurentic in late November the ship had been converted to an auxiliary cruiser and was about to depart for Sierra Leone to assist in the Kamerun Campaign in West Africa. Alfred stayed on the Laurentic when the ship moved on to Asia in August 1915, to patrol around Singapore, Rangoon and Hong Kong, remaining there till the following summer. In June 1916 he headed to Nova Scotia on the Laurentic and spent the following months patrolling around Halifax and Bermuda before the ship departed for Liverpool in late November.
His body was recovered and is buried in St Mura’s, Fahan, County Donegal.
Alfred William Baker’s name is wrongly transcribed as William Alfred Baker on the monument at St Mura’s Church in Fahan and on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records. We have a copy of his baptismal record and Service Record both of which confirm his correct name verified by his unique service number.
Census UK, 1901 and 1911
The National Archives UK – Royal Marines Registers of Service