Private - London Regiment (Prince of Wales Own Civil Service Rifles), 1st/15th Battalion - Regt. No. 3238
Alan Gates Sandford was born in Gravesend on 27 March 1895 to Edward Augustus Sandford (born 1855 in Gravesend) and Florence (née Gates, born 1854 also in Gravesend). In the 1901 Census Alan was listed as living at 11 Park Place, Gravesend with his parents and 3 older siblings – 1 brother, Francis Edward (born 26/08/1878) and 2 sisters, Ada (born 20/01/1886) and Mildred May (born 10/05/1888). There was another older brother, Ernest (born 1879) not listed at the family home in 1901. Alan’s father is listed as an Engineer and Iron Founder with his own Iron Casting business.
The first school that Alan attended was the Modern School in Peacock Street, Gravesend. Originally the first British School opened in 1852 as an elementary school for non-conformist children. Later, in 1874, privately owned (also known as the Middle Class School) in Peacock Street run by a Mr Charles Hooper-Smith, who advertised the following: ‘a thoroughly sound and practical education is guaranteed, subjects of study being chosen with a view to each boy’s capabilities and intended career.’ Special classes were available for shorthand, callisthenics and violin. The school was subsequently run by a Mr H Waldgrave. The building became a dancing school, known as Freeborn’s Hall. For a time it survived as a Repertory Theatre until it closed in 1950. It was also home for Lewis’ Printers and is now a grocery store.
He continued his education at The Gravesend County Day School (now Gravesend Grammar School) from 1905-10. The County Day School had been originally opened in 1893 as a school of science and art, located in Darnley Street close to Gravesend Railway Station. (With the move of Gravesend Grammar School in 1938 to its present site in Milton Road, the original school building is now the Victoria Centre for Adult Education). Both Alan’s sisters, Ada and Mildred also attended the School from 1899 and 1900. By the time that Alan attended the School, the 1902 Education Act had been passed and the school had become a recognised Secondary School. Although still a fee-paying school, there were scholarships available, however it is unknown as to whether Alan and his siblings were scholarship pupils. The Headmaster at the time was H F A Wigley, BA, FCS.
By the time of the 1911 Census Alan at 16 had left school and was listed as a Grocer’s Assistant. The Sandford family home according to the Census was still 11 Park Place, Gravesend. Francis Sandford had married Sarah Jones in 1907, they had 1 son, Stuart and were now living at 16 Albion Terrace, Gravesend. Francis was working as a Mechanical Engineer in his father’s business. Ernest had moved away earlier, in the 1901 Census he was listed living in Cheltenham as a newspaper reporter and in 1911 had moved again to Moseley, Birmingham and living with his wife Charlotte. He was now working as the Lord Mayor’s Secretary.
By the outbreak of World War One, Alan was working for the Civil Service. He enlisted at Somerset House as a Private in the London Regiment (Prince of Wales’ Own Civil Service Rifles), 1st/15th Battalion, Regiment No. 3238 in January 1915. After training he arrived in France on 17 August 1915. Alan was killed by a shell in the trenches near Loos on 11 November 1915, age 20. The address listed for his parents in 1915 was Greyfriars, Old Road East, Gravesend.
Alan Gates Sandford is remembered at Loos Memorial, Pas de Calais – Panel 132. His parents donated £100 towards a ‘Peace Cot’ at Gravesend Hospital in thanksgiving for the end of World War One and in memory of their son (Kent Messenger 16/11/1918). One of the two new treble bells at Milton Church was dedicated in Alan Sandford’s memory by his parents in 1930.