Captain Alexander Lynam De Courcy STRETTON


Regiment/Service:
South Lancashire Regiment
Unit:
1st Battalion
Attached: 1st Battalion Nigeria Regiment,
(West African Frontier Force)
Service Number:
n/a
Date of Death:
16 October 1917 - Killed in Action
Age:
31
Cemetery / Memorial:
Grave Number:
n/a
Awards:
Military Cross


Personal History:

Alexander was born in the September quarter 1886, in Salcombe, Devon, the son of Major William (Royal Artillery Captain), and Beata Caroline (née Stead) de Courcy Stretton. In 1891 the family were living at 'The Limes', Great Boughton, Cheshire, and Alexander had three younger brothers and sisters, Catherine Ellen, William Stapleton and Conrad (Census RG 13/2683).

By 1901 (Census RG 13/1488) William had retired and three more children had been added to the family - Mary Adela, John and Michael Foyle - and had moved to Merton Road, Bedford. 

By 1911 (Census RG 14/34989) Alexander was serving with the 1st Battalion, South Lancs. Regiment and based at the Napier Barracks, Lahore Cantonment, India, with the rank of Lieutenant. His family had moved to Little Close, Salcombe, Devon

In the March quarter 1916 Alexander married Mary Shaw of Whitehall, Buxton. There is no record of them having any children.  Mary was the daughter of Henry and Maria (née Burton) Shaw. Her brother, Harold Shaw, of the Lancashire Fusiliers was killed in action in 1915. In the same year Alexander's father, William, died.
William and Beata Stretton lost four of their sons in the Great War. Elgar's "Marching Song" (1908) and "Follow the Colours" (1914) were dedicated to Major William Stretton, who wrote the words. William is buried in the Queensferry cemetery alongside his son Conrad. The family were remembered in Salcombe by the naming of De Courcy Road. [See Footnotes below]

Military History:
At the outbreak the War Alexander was a serving Officer with the 1st Battalion, South Lancashire Regiment. Although his Battalion never left India during the War, his Medal Index Card shows his 'Theatre of War' as Africa (Sept 1914) with a qualifying date of 21st August 1914. Presumably this was when he became attached to the 1st Battalion Nigeria Regiment W.A.F.F.  He fought in the action at Nsanakang, German Kamerun, on 6th September 1914 and was taken prisoner. He was released on 8th January 1916 and was awarded the MC on 18th August 1916 presumably for this action (London Gazette, 18th August 1914).

In the battle at Bweho Chini, German East Africa  on 22nd September 1917 he was one of the company commanders who patrolled out to the east and had 'a stiff fight to get back'. He was killed in action on 16th October 1917 during the fighting at Mahiwa, German East Africa on 16th October 1917 and is commemorated on the Dar-es-Salaam Memorial.

He is also commemorated on the Zaria War Memorial, Nigeria, suggesting he took part in fighting in Cameroon and then in Tanzania. This Memorial was erected by public subscription and commemorates 330 Commonwealth soldiers belonging to the 1st and 5th Battalions of the Nigeria Regiment who lost their lives during the 1914-1918 War.

Footnotes:
· Alexander's brother 2nd/Lt. John De Courcy Stretton, M.C., serving with the 3rd Battalion (attd. 1st Bn.) Royal Warwickshire Regiment, was
  killed in action on the 11th May 1918. He is buried in Le Vertannoy British Cemetery. He had previously served as Acting Sergeant 808979
  with the Canadian Royal Cycle Company.

· Able Seaman 2955 Conrad de Courcy Stretton of the Royal Australian Navy, HMAS "Australia", also brother of Alexander, who was born in
  Gosport, Hants in 1890, died on the 12th March 1915, aged 24. He died of illness aboard ship and is buried at Queensferry alongside his father.

· A third brother, Captain William Stapleton de Courcy Stretton of the 3rd Battalion and 2nd Battalion, the Royal Warwickshire Regiment, born
  in Gosport, Hants in 1889, was killed in action on the 4th September 1916, aged 27. He now lies in Corbie Communal Cemetery Extension.

· Alexander's only surviving brother served as Private 978 Michael Foyle de Courcy Stretton in the Queen's Own West Kent Yeomanry
  (Territorial Force), enlisting on the first day of the Great War, 4th August 1914. He was discharged on the 20th November 1914, as being:
  "Not likely to become an efficient soldier".

  [Michael and his wife Camilla Teresa had a son, who served in World War 2 as Lt. Michael Foyle De Courcy Stretton, R.N.V.R., on
  H.M.S. Indefatigable. He died on the 24th August 1945 and is commemorated on the Lee-on-Solent Memorial.]

· Their father, Major William de Courcy Stretton also served in the Great War on the Staff of the Royal Artillery.

Sources:
· I am grateful to "The War Graves Photographic Project" for providing the photo of Alexander's name on the Dar-es-Salaam Memorial
  and to C A Conway for the photo of the Zaria Memorial.
· The action at Nsanakang - "Official History Togoland & Cameroons" [page 108] - Brigadier FJ Moberley (ISBN: 9781845749378)  and
· "History of the Royal West African Frontier Force" [page 115] - by Colonel A Haywood and Brigadier F A S Clarke (ASIN: B0017GBO1U)
· The fighting at Mahiwa - "With the Nigerians in German East Africa" [page 217] - by W.D. Downes (ISBN-10: 1152192469) and
· "History of the RWAFF" [page 231]


Link to CWGC Record
Captain Stretton's name on the Memorial
The Military Cross
The Zaria War Memorial, Nigeria
poppy