Alfred Thomas Heath

Article by Dianne Heath, with the assistance of Florrie Leighfield and Dennis Heath.

Alfred Thomas Heath

Born 26th December 1924
Died 21st November 1944

Born on 26th December 1923 Thomas Alfred Heath was the youngest child and only son of John Thomas and Alice (nee Tompset) Heath who are buried in an unmarked grave next to Mr Sellers in Ilam churchyard between Henry Massey and Hannah and Thomas White.

His great-grandfather William Harrison helped to carry the stone to Ilam to construct the Watts Russell Memorial in the village.

Family members

Alfred had three sisters: Lucy born in 1914; Winnie born in 1916 and Florence (Florrie) born in 1919.

Lucy married Arthur Harrison and brought up a family of three (Dennis, Jim and George) at Air Cottage, Ilam. She also collected the bus fair for Warrington's buses on the Thursday journey to Ashbourne market. When they retired from farming Arthur and Lucy moved to Ashbourne.

After a brief spell in hospital Winnie died of cancer at home on 31/7/1922. and is buried with her grandparents in Alstonefield churchyard.


On completing her war training Florrie was sent to Newport, South Wales where she met and married Ninian Leighfield. Her married life has been spent in Newport where she brought up three children, John, Sylvia and Jeannette.

Alfred was a trooper in the Royal Armoured Corp.

Alfred's friend and next-door neighbour, David Bassett, enrolled in the RAF. He was killed a short while after Alfred.

Alfred's war correspondence.

Alfred was a trooper in the Royal Armoured Corp and wrote to his sisters Lucy and Florrie; cousin Ettie; and girlfriend Doris on a regular basis. The later letters he wrote to Lucy were saved. They are written in pencil and do not tell of the horrors faced whilst fighting.


Transcript of a letter Alfred sent to Lucy on June 26th.

Dear Lucy
Many thanks for the letter received yesterday, You certainly seem to have been busy lately and I expect Dennis was very pleased with all the visitors.

I wrote to Doris the same time as I wrote to you so she has my latest address. I hope Ettie and Florrie write soon as I haven't got either of their addresses.

I am glad to say I am OK and still enjoying life and believe it or not I am almost fed up with chocolate and sweets as I have eaten pounds of it lately. I can't send some home for Dennis. I don't know if you have ever seen any French money So I am enclosing a couple of 5 franc notes for souvenirs, the 50 and 100 Franc note are better but I have only got 100 Franc notes and we can only send 50 Francs and under.
I don't think I have time for anymore so I will say Cheerio for now.
Love Alf

A book published detailing the history of the Corp describes what occurred.

November 21st 1944, will always be remembered as the black day of "A squadron. Major Stratton's party moved up to Suggerath and remained there all day in readiness, but were not used. Captain Hill went into
action against pill-boxes N.E. of Prummern having only his own gun tank and two Crocs with him, as the others were either battle casualties or mechanically unfit; they had to move across some open ground to get within flaming range before they could close with the enemy, all three tanks were knocked out and some from the
Sherwood Ranger Yeomanry. Of the fifteen members of the three crews, only two were not killed or seriously wounded, Captain John Hall, Lieut. Pat Evans (who had just joined the squadron), Sergeants Bill Wiseman and Charlie Cole, Corporal Harry Davies, L/Corporal Gordon Weaver, Troopers Alfred Heath, John Hogg, Henry Wignall and Thomas Moore, and an American officer, who was acting as Liaison Officer in captain Hall's tank, all making the supreme sacrifice the name Geilenkirchen will for ever be revered and recalled with pride and respect for Captain Hall and his very gallant comrades by all members of the squadron and regiment.

The History of "A squadron 141st regiment R.A.C. (the Buffs)

On the 29th November 1944 Lucy was sent a letter from the record office to inform her that Alfred was posted as "missing on 21st November 1944 in the North West European Theatre of war. A letter dated 14th December 1944 informs the family that Alfred was killed in Action on 21st November 1944 in Western Europe.

Sittard

Alfred was buried, along with his comrades, in a newly created war cemetery in Sittard.

The town of Sittard is in the south east corner of the Netherlands close to the German border, and approx 25kms north east of Maastricht.

The burials in the cemetery, apart from a few dating from November 1944, are almost all from the months of January and February 1945. The men buried here belong mostly to the Scottish regiments of the 52nd (Lowland) Division, engaged in the battle in this vicinity from 18th to 24th January 1945.

The war memorial

Rather than erecting a war memorial of a traditional design the priests chair situated in the church is the memorial the village clubbed together to purchase. It is in memory of Alfred Heath and David Bassett who gave their lives in the second World War. A brass plaque on the wall records the names of the two villagers who lost their lives in the First World War.

This booklet was collated by Dianne Heath with the assistance of Florrie Leighfield and Dennis Heath. If you have further information to add to this booklet please send it via the contact page and we will pass it on.

To download a copy of the original booklet in pdf format plese click the link below.

Download the original Alfred Thomas Heath pdf with extra photographs.