Alfred Knight SETCHELL was born on February 12, 1898 in Bedford. The only son of Mr & Mrs Arthur Setchell, Alfred attended Bedford Modern School where he served in the Officer Training Corps (O.T.C.).
On June 3, 1916, aged 18 years and 4 months, Alfred attested at Ampthill as 29967 Private Setchell and was posted to the Bedfordshire Training Depot in Ampthill Great Park. On July 25 he was appointed Lance Corporal and on October 28 posted to the Ampthill Command Depot, shortly after it opened.
On May 5, 1917 Alfred was posted to undertake training at No.3 Officer Cadet Battalion in Bristol and then discharged (August 28) on being appointed to a command with the 9th Norfolks’ as a 2nd Lieutenant (temporary).
On March 21, 1918 2nd Lieutenant Setchell was wounded in action and recorded as ‘missing.’
Mr Arthur Setchell (father) was Secretary of the Discharged Prisoner’s Aid Society in Bedford. Mr Setchell refused to accept, without evidence, that ‘missing’ meant that his son was dead, and so he exchanged letters with the War Office up to and after the armistice. Mr Setchell’s persistence glimpsed the fate of his son – a witness account and sketch by a Captain William Arnott (R.A.M.C.) who recalled 2nd Lieutenant Setchell at the 18th Field Ambulance Advanced Dressing Station in the Cambrai region; Alfred was had a serious chest wound. Later that day German troops over ran the dugout and Captain Arnott handed the wounded officer into the care of a Prussian Guards Division’ Doctor, who took charge. Contact was lost with 2nd Lieutenant Setchell and two other British wounded who were left in the dugout.
The War Office made efforts to locate 2nd Lieutenant Setchell, but his fate and resting place are unknown.
A December 23, 1919 War Office minute records that “No further information has been received [about 2nd Lieutenant A.K. Setchell], and in view of the lapse of time since he was reported as Missing, his death has been accepted for official purposes as having occurred on or since 21st March, 1918.”
2nd Lieutenant Alfred K. SETCHELL is remembered at Arras, on the Duke of Bedford War Memorial in Ampthill Great Park and is named on the memorial stones at Bedford Modern School and Bedford St. Peters Church.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
RBL Roll of Honour
The National Archives
Text and images copyright S.Hartley (2015-)
Care is taken to ensure accuracy – please accept my apologies if the content contains any errors.