Alfred (Alfie) Noakes, entomologist

Alfred (known as Alfie) was born in Lewisham in 1893, the youngest child of Alfred and Mary Noakes; his siblings were Annie (b. 1878) and Ada (b. 1879).  Alfie’s father, called Alfred senior from now on, and his father, Thomas, supplied the Natural History Museum with butterfly and moth specimens.  Around 1906/07, Alfred senior established a connection with James Joicey, a well known collector of moths and butterflies who lived at The Hill, Wormley, Witley.  Alfie became a butterfly setter and later an entomologist, working with Alfred senior.  Alfred senior, Mary and Alfie joined Joicey in Wormley around 1910; George Gale, who died of wounds on Christmas Day 1916, was a gardener at The Hill.   Joicey’s collection (together with some of Alfred senior’s letters and papers) is now in the Natural History Museum and there are two species of moth named after him.  Alfie enlisted at Guildford in September 1914 and went to France in July 1915.  At the time of his death, Alfie was engaged to Dolly Rollett.  Although a Rollett family ran the Fox and Hounds in Witley near King Edward’s School on Petworth Road, no Dolly Rollett can be found and it is believed this was an affectionate term for the young lady.

On 28 September 1916, Alfie’s battalion took part in the assault on the Schwaben Redoubt during the battle of Thiepval Ridge. The battalion reached its objective and during the night there were unsuccessful attempts by the Germans to drive them back.  Alfie was posted as missing in action during the attack.  In January 1917, Private F Aldridge of the Hertfordshire Regiment wrote to Mary that he had found Alfred’s body on the battlefield and enclosed his effects of private papers and letters.  Alfie’s grave was presumably lost subsequently and he is listed on the Thiepval memorial.  Charles Day, a gamekeeper in Witley, was killed in the same battle the next day.

Alfie was awarded the 1914/15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.


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