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Local Heroes - Your streets were their streets Local Heroes - Your streets were their streets

The names of 197 local men who lost their lives in World War I are
inscribed on the bells of the Memorial Community Church in Plaistow. They are our local heroes

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Albert Edward Acton

Royal Field Artillery
Silvertown - 13 March 1898
France and Flanders - 14 September 1917
Died of wounds
Served in
Royal Field Artillery
British War Medal & Victory Medal
Memorial in the grounds of the former St Mark's Church (now the Brick Lane Music Hall, North Woolwich Road, E16
21 Westwood Road, West Silvertown

Albert's story

Jean Conners, a great-niece of Albert Acton, provided the following information and the photos of Albert Action, adding, “along with so many others it was such a sad loss of such a young life. My Mum used to tell me that Albert’s family were a nice family and she could even remember attending her Grandmother Susan’s funeral”.

The facts as known at present

According to a later Schools Admission Register[1] Albert Edward Acton was born on the 13th March 1898 to Thomas and Susan Acton (nee Fisher).  Albert was the youngest of their seven children.  He was indeed the “baby of the family” as his eldest brother Thomas had been born 23 years earlier, in 1875, Emily, William[2], Alice, Florence, Constance followed and then Albert himself.[3]

The 1901 Census shows the family to be living at 5 Westwood Road, Silvertown.  By the time that Albert was admitted to West Silvertown School, in Boxley Road, the family’s address was given as 21 Westwood Road.  The family was living in rented accommodation at a time when it would have been very easy to move, if a property became vacant that suited their needs more appropriately.  The Register also states that Albert left the school on 13th March 1912, at the age of 14.

The 1911 Census showed that just Albert his sister Constance and their parents were living at number 21 by this time, where they occupied just three rooms.  It is known that his brothers and sisters all survived to adulthood, some already having married by 1911.

Unfortunately to date it is not known what Albert’s employment was between this time and his enlistment into the Army at Woolwich[4] .  Albert in his new uniform left a lasting impression on my late Mother as, although she could have only been about four years old at the time, she remembers seeing him and his friend in their uniforms “of which Uncle Jack was so proud.”

Albert served in the Royal Field Artillery, 58 Division Ammunition Column.

As shown on your website Albert died of his wounds on 14th September 1917, aged just 19, and is buried in Plot 8 Row B, Grave 12, of Dozinghem Military Cemetery, Westvleteren, Belgium.  What is so poignant is that according to the National Probate Calendar, Albert, along with many other servicemen were encouraged to make a will.  The extract from the Calendar is attached.  (The Susan referred to is Albert’s Mother)

What is also unbearably sad is that Albert’s Father Thomas had been killed on the 19th January of that same year in the “Silvertown Explosion” at the Brunner Mond & Co. Chemical Factory.  Although Albert’s Mother, Susan, did not die until 1923 family stories tell of her never being the same after the death of her husband and youngest son and that she died “of a broken heart.”[5]


[1] West Silvertown School Admissions Register (Newham Local Studies Library)

[2] My Grandfather whom I unfortunately never knew as he died in 1942.

[3] According to my Mother and a relative in Australia Albert was known as Jack but nobody knows why.

[4] I do have details of this somewhere(!) will send them on when I find them.

[5] Her death Certificate records “Cardiac Failure.”

Service Number
Thomas Henry
Dozinghem Military Cemetery, Belgium
  • Extract from National Probate Calendar
  • P1000166
  • P1000167
  • scan0003
  • scan0006
  • scan0008

Do you know anything about Albert?

Perhaps Albert Edward Acton was in your family, or a friend of someone in your family? If you have any information at all we'd love to hear from you. Post a comment using the form below and we'll be in touch.

One comment

  1. Jean Conners
    November 28, 2011
    9:24 pm

    Whilst visiting friends in East Ham I was very interested in the article regarding the recent Bells Dedication, which they were keen to show me as they knew Albert Acton to be a great uncle of mine. Myself and a cousin in Australia have more information on Albert, including his photo; photos of his grave (with its orginal wooden cross and then later memorial stone), also a photo of a memorial on which his name is commemorated outside what is now the Brick Lane Music Hall (formerly St Marks) Silvertown. His Medal Card at the National Archives we finally located under the name of Arthur, but sadly no more official documents appear to have survived, although I will keep looking! I would be pleased to share the information I have if you feel it would be of interest.

(will not be published)

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