Rifleman Alan Protheroe

Date of Birth 21 April 1894
Age at Death 20
Date of Death 3 December 1914
Service Number 9932
Military Service 5th Battalion London Rifle Brigade
Merton Address 7 Cliveden Road, Wimbledon
Local Memorial Rutlish School, Merton

Additional Information

Born in Wolverhampton on 21 April 1894, Alan was the son of Ernest Hanley Protheroe and his wife Alice. The couple also had two younger sons, Cyril and Geoffrey, and two daughters, Marjorie and Phyllis.

Ernest Protheroe was a prolific children’s author, publishing boy’s adventures under his own name, and stories for girls under pen names such as Alys Chatwin (derived from his wife’s maiden name). He also wrote numerous reference books and a biography of the British nurse, Edith Cavell, entitled “A Noble Woman.” During World War 1, Edith famously treated wounded servicemen from both sides without discrimination. Arrested and charged with treason for her role in helping some 200 Allied troops to escape from German-occupied Belgium, she was subsequently court martialled and executed by firing squad, an act that drew international condemnation.

By 1911 the Protheroe family was living at 7 Cliveden road, Wimbledon. Alan was educated at Rutlish School, where he excelled at sports, being a fine swimmer, hockey and tennis player however by the age of 16 he was working as a Clerk in the advertising industry.

He volunteered for the Army on 7 August 1914, just three days after war was declared. By that time he was living at 8 Mayfield Road, Merton Park and working for Jacobson, Welch and Company.

Alan was assigned to the Royal City of London Rifles. He arrived in France on 4 November. His battalion moved to St Omar on 7 November and spent the following week digging, practising the attack and firing the new rifles they had been issued with. On 20 November they were sent to the trenches and spent time in Ploegsteert Wood, affectionately known to the servicemen as "Plug Street".

During the second week of December the men of Alan’s unit formed working parties in Ploegstraat woods, however 8 platoons were sent up to the forward trenches. On 3 December 1914 two further platoons travelled to Nieppe for inspection by King George V. Between 2 and 2:30pm there was heavy shelling to the west, later discovered to have been for the benefit of the King. The war diary states that two soldiers were killed in action that day, including Alan Protheroe, however there are no details regarding the circumstances of his death. (The war diary for 1 – 5/12/14 has been included with this profile).

Alan was buried in Lancashire Cottage Cemetery just to the East of Ploegstraat, Belgium. He is also commemorated on the Rutlish school memorial where he had been a pupil.


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