Photograph of Alexander in Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre. Reference: Acc3318
Alexander was born between January and March 1892 in Leigh, Lancashire. He was named after his father and his mother was called Harriett. His younger brother was Wilfred, and his medals are also in the Museum of the Manchester Regiment collection. They also had an older brother, Herbert, who died between April and June 1894, aged 7.
Alexander senior worked as a cotton warehouseman, and the family lived at various addresses in Leigh. In 1891 they were at 15 Princess Street, in 1901 at 206 Bridgewater Street, and in 1911 at 194 Bridgewater Street. By then Alexander junior was working as a piecer in a cotton mill.
By the time the First World War broke out in August 1914 the family lived at the Navigation Inn, on nearby Mather Lane. Alexander senior was the landlord.
Alexander junior joined the 5th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment in December 1915. This was a unit of the Territorial Force based in nearby Wigan. We don't know much about Alexander's service. He joined the original 5th Battalion (1/5th) at some point and served as a machine gunner. This unit was based in Egypt until March 1917 when it was sent to France. As a member of a Territorial Force unit Alexander was issued with a new service number in March: 201620.
The German Army launched a major offensive in March 1918. It drove the Allies back, but was eventually stopped. On the 8th August the Allies launched their own offensive, which came to be known as the Hundred Days.
On the 2nd September the 1/5th Battalion was involved in fighting around the village of Villiers au Flos. During the fighting Alexander carried out an act of great courage, and he was awarded the Military Medal. The award was published in the London Gazette on the 11th February 1919. We don't know exactly what he did.
At some point during the war Alexander was shot through the cheek.
Alexander returned to Leigh after the war. Along with 4 other Military Medal winners he was honoured at a meeting of Leigh Town Council on Tuesday the 10th February 1920. He was presented with his medal and a gift of £10 by the Mayor, Councillor W. Grundy.
Alexander returned to civilian life. His father died on the 15th March 1924, at which time both Alexander and Wilfred were working as corn dealers.
Alexander never married. Towards the end of his life he lived at 75 Brunswick Street in Leigh. He died in Astley Hospital on the 30th September 1953. He was 61 years old.
As well as his Military Medal Alexander was also awarded the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal for his Army service.
Alexander and Wilfred's medals were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in 1997.