Family story from Mary Luxford
Alfred John Dumper was born in 1894, to Thomas and Emily Dumper of Surbiton; he was the middle child of six: Eveline, Charles, Annie, Lionel and Arthur, and spent most of his young life living at the Red Lion public house, Ewell Road, Tolworth, which his parents ran. According to the 1911 Census, he worked as a commercial clerk.
His descendants believe that he must have joined the army soon after the outbreak of war on 4th August 1914, as his father’s diary reports that he visited home from the barracks in October of that year.
Diary entry for March 6th 1915 ‘Heard that Alf leaves on Tuesday’.
Diary entry for March 8th 1915 ‘Expecting to hear of Alf’s leaving’
Diary entry for March 9th 1915 ‘Alf left today for France, May God grant him a safe return.’
He was no doubt one of the many thousands of young men who joined up in the early months of the war, inspired by the wave of passionate patriotism that had swept the nation. He joined the 18th (County of London) Battalion (London Irish Rifles), with the service number 2411. Rifleman Dumper visited home numerous times while training at his barracks in London. On his way back to London, and off to France, he found himself on a train that stopped in Addlestone, not far from the family home (now in Weybridge). The train stopped astride the level crossing in Addlestone for several hours. He knew his sister, Eveline, was in the Quadrant in Weybridge only a few minutes away but had no way of contacting her to say goodbye. He knew the train could move at any moment so he couldn’t visit her, eventually they moved off, and he never came back.
Rifleman Dumper was killed at the Battle of Loos on 29th September 1915, aged 21. His father’s diary chronicles the family’s concern in the lead up to his tragic death:
Diary entry for September 26th added later in ink as rest was all in pencil, ’25th September 1915 is the day poor dear Alf was wounded in front of the German trenches near Loos in the Great Advance’.
Diary entry for Wednesday 29th September ‘Heard of poor dear Alf being wounded, greatly upset’.
Diary entry for Thursday 30th ‘Very anxious about Alf.’
Diary entry for Friday 1st October ‘Heard of poor dear Alf’s death from wounds, from War Office’.
Alfred was wounded in the battle, but later died of wounds at Le Treport Hospital, near Dieppe, France. He is buried in a lovely little military cemetery in Le Treport overlooking the sea.