Siblings: John, Fred, Robert, Lillian, Arthur, Evelyn, Edwin, Frank
Occupation: Cropping Room
Rank: L Cpl
Rolls of Honour: Eccleshill, Park and St Luke’s
Regiment: 1/6 West Yorkshire
In a piece about his father’s police service which appeared in the Shipley Times & Express on 29 November 1915 we learn:‘L Cpl Alfred Helliwell (27) had served his time with the “Terriers” but rejoined the 1/6 West Yorks on the outbreak of hostilities. He was sent to France in April of the present year and is the servant of Major Scott at the front.‘He is an enthusiastic soldier who has unbounded confidence in the Allies. Though he is in the grim struggle, all his letters are bright and cheerful and he has sent several interesting relics home from the battlefield.’Alfred was in France with his younger brother Robert and it fell to him to write to his parents and tell them of Robert’s death.Six weeks later the newspaper carried more sad news for the family:‘Police Sergeant and Mrs John Helliwell, who reside at the Police Station, Eccleshill, have now lost two sons at the front within six weeks.‘They are the only family in Eccleshill district who have suffered a double bereavement since the war began.
‘Both sons were in the 1/6th West Yorks. They had been in the Terriers for seven years before the outbreak of hostilities.‘Signaller Robert Helliwell was struck down by a sniper on returning from a successful raid against the Germans in July and on Saturday Mr and Mrs Helliwell received the sad intelligence that L Cpl Alfred Helliwell was killed by a trench mortar on the 14th inst.‘The information is conveyed in a letter from Pte F Brocklehurst of the same regiment which read: “I am awfully sorry to inform you that your son Alfred has been killed and I tender you my deepest sympathy in this your second loss within a few weeks.“I was friendly with your son Bob but in Alfred I have lost one of my best pals. We were together yesterday afternoon laughing and joking and he went back to his company about 4 p.m. “Later in the evening we were rather heavily shelled and one
dropped in the midst of Alfred and his section, killing four and wounding three others. Your son was killed instantly and so would suffer no pain. “The Rev R Whincup has come up into the trenches and will bury Alfred and his comrades this evening in the neat little graveyard just behind the lines.“All the boys join me in trusting that God will give you the strength to bear this your second terrible bereavement.”‘The Rev R Whincup sent a sympathetic message as follows: “I am sorry to have to write to you again and give you such very sad news. In fact, I scarcely know how to start but it is best to tell you the truth. Your son, L Cpl A Helliwell, late servant to Colonel C E Scott, was killed last night.“It is terribly sad for you and your family because this bereavement follows so closely upon the death of your other son out here only six weeks ago.
“A trench mortar dropped in the very midst of several men, killing five and wounding several others. I went up to the trenches this evening and Captain Oddy took me to see the place where your son was killed and showed me the grave which is not very far from the spot where your dear boy fell.“I conducted the burial service. I will endeavour to have a cross with a suitable inscription erected over the grave.“We shall miss your son very much indeed because he was very well known in the battalion. Personally I saw a great deal of him because he was connected with the headquarters staff and he treated me with ever courtesy and kindness whenever I asked him to do anything for me.“I am deeply sorry for you and your family. Your son nobly responded to the call of duty ad he has died fighting on behalf of his country.”And in a letter to the parents of another casualty, Raistrick Fuller, the Rev Whincup revealed: “L Cpl A Helliwell, of Eccleshill, who was killed at the same time, is buried in the same place, with your son. “