Alfred Sydney Lee signature

Alfred Sydney Lee, a bartender, signed up on this day in 1916 in Toronto. He was born in England on June 8th, 1892, the son of George Lee and Alice (née Garrad). George died in early 1902, when Alfred was nine years old and Alfred’s mother moved in with a man called William Keeley in 1903 (they did marry, but not until 1925).

Alfred was the eldest boy of the five children  from Alice’s first marriage. Perhaps he and his new stepfather did not get along, as Alfred left England to come to Canada at the age of 13 in 1906 as a Home child. He travelled with 100 other boys from the Fegan Home on the Empress of Britain. The picture below shows the boys from this group, with Alfred circled in red.

1906 Fegan Boys (highlighting Alfred Sidney Lee)

1906 Fegan Boys, courtesy of the British Home Children in Canada site

Lee joined the 92nd Battalion with the regimental number 193596. He was five feet five inches tall, with a fair complexion, blue/grey eyes and brown hair. He gave his next of kin as his mother, Alice Lee, of 15 Cancel Street, Walworth, London, England and his present address as Deseronto. (Alice Keeley’s address in the 1911 census was 16 Cancel Street.)

[As they signed up in the same place on the same day, one regimental number apart, it seems likely that Alfred Sydney Lee and Arthur Owen Francis knew each other.]

Alfred’s service record shows that he arrived in England on May 29th, 1916. He joined the 73rd Battalion in France on September 11th. On January 29th, 1917 he was wounded and hospitalized with concussion. He went back to duty on February 13th, but was troubled with deafness and tinnitus afterwards. In April 1917 he was admitted to hospital again with a fever and was there until July. He spent the rest of the war in England and was granted permission to marry on August 29th, 1918. Alfred married Florence Ada Calver in Camberwell, Surrey, England on September 28th.

The couple returned to Canada on the SS Scandinavian in October 1919 and were living in Oshawa in 1921, but they went back to England in 1923. Florence died in Mansfield in 1962 and Alfred died in Eastbourne in 1979.

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