Place of birth:
Fitters Improver at General Smiths and Fitters
Date of death:
Cause of death:
Killed in action
Grave or panel reference:
Panel 9 and 11
Name of father:
Name of siblings:
William, Tabitha, Albert, George Harold, Emmie E, Frederick James, Florence Grace, Edith Lilian, Stanley Arthur.
Name(s) of children:
Date of birth:
Place of enlistment:
France and Flanders
Age at death:
Cemetery or memorial:
Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium
Royal Northern Hospital Arch
Name of mother:
Mary Jane Godfrey
Name of spouse:
30 Lennox Road, Finsbury Park, London
Alfred Nelson John was born in Chelsea in 1887, the first-born child of his parents. He was baptised on June 19th1887 at St Pauls, Onslow Square, Middlesex and lived at 42 Leaden Street. By the age of 4 years old Alfred had become a permanent resident of Islington with his growing family. By 1911, Alfred was the oldest sibling of a family of 10. His parents were Alfred and Mary Jane and in 1911 they lived at 30 Lennox Way. At this time Alfred was 24 years old and worked as a Fitters Improver at a General Smiths and Fitters. His job may have involved him installing, servicing and repairing industrial machinery and equipment.
Alfred enlisted for war duty with the British Army and joined the Grenadier Guards, based in Chelsea, as part of the 2nd Battalion unit. His younger brothers also enlisted for war duty. Albert was part of the East London Regiment and George was part of the Royal Army Medical Corps.
At the age of 27 years old, Alfred was killed in action on 7th November 1914, less than four months into the start of the First World War. Forces War Records show his unit would have been involved in protecting British defence in the Battle of Ypres and Battle of Gheluvelt between 29th October 1914 and 10th November 1914. It is highly likely that it was during this action that he would have received his fatal injury.
Alfred’s name is included among the names of more than 54,000 soldiers inscribed on the Ypres Memorial in Belgium, often referred to simply as the Menin Gate. His name is recorded as John Alfred Nelson, a variation of his birth name. Between October 1914 and September 1918, hundreds of thousands of servicemen of the British empire marched through the town of Ypres’s Menin Gate on their way to the battlefields. This well-known memorial now stands as a reminder of those who died who have no known grave.
After his death, Alfred was awarded the 1914 Star. It was instituted in 1917 for service ashore in France and Flanders between 5th August and 22nd November 1914. He was also awarded the Victory Medal. Eligibility for this award consisted of having been mobilised, fighting, having served in any of the theatres of operations between midnight 4th/5th August 1914, and midnight, 11/12 November 1918. George was also awarded the British War Medal for services between 5th August and 11th November 1918.
Alfred and Mary Jane Godfrey would have been sent a Memorial Death Plaque after the war to commemorate their first-born son Alfred. This, sadly, would have been the first of three Memorial Death Plaques they would have received for their sons who served. Albert died in 1917 and George died in 1918.
Private Alfred Nelson John Godfrey is remembered on three memorials: the Menin Gate in Belgium, Royal Northern Hospital Arch in Islington and St Mellitus War Memorial in Islington.