My gt grandparents, William & Mary Morgan "sort of adopted" a young man named Clifton Frederick Alban, who served in WW1 as Clifton Frederick Bailey (his mmn).A small group of us have been researching him, because he was so well thought of in our family 3 subsequent generations were named Clifton. Here is what we have found so far. The biggest mystery though is just how he came to be "taken under the wing of the Morgan family? We would love to hear from anyone who might be able to tell us more.
(left) Clayesmore School, 1913 - source
Clifton was born in March 1897 at Christchurch, Hampshire. Clifton Frederick Samuel Alban is named as his Father. He (C.F.S.A) had had a twenty year career in India in the Bombay Staff Corps, having served in the Afghan War in 1879-80 (!), taking part in the defence of Kandahar. He was promoted to Major in 1895.From the 1911 Census, we know that Clifton was already using his Mother’s maiden name and was a pupil at Dunshurst Steep School. Part of the Bedales group. He also attended Clayesmore School where he is named on the roll of honour in the school chapel.
He was commissioned in the 7th (City of London) Battalion, the London Regiment, and had been their transport officer while at Ipswich and Sutton Verny. He joined No. 1 School of Aeronautics (Reading) on 2nd October 1916, then No. 12 Reserve Squadron on 17th November 1916 and 13 Reserve Squadron on 10 January 1917. He graduated as a Temporary Lieutenant (Flying Officer) in the Royal Flying Corps on 24th February 1917 and was posted to 59 Squadron RFC in France on 14th March 1917.
The primary task of the RFC was to act as aerial observers. Observers brought back photographs of enemy positions, details of weapons and troop movements The rear observer would have a heavy wooden box camera on the side of the plane and heavy photographic plates were being changed, despite the hail of gunfire going on around them!! He would also act as a gunner when necessary. Clifton’s role would have been either to fly in a reconnaissance role or, as escort, to defend these planes from attack from German aircraft and to mount similar attacks on German reconnaissance planes. Tactical flying was part of the training: learning how to swerve and dodge, avoid sun dazzle, loop the loop and so on. Good reflexes were their greatest asset.
On 6th April, after a painfully short period of active service, Clifton was posted as missing after failing to return from escort duty to a photographic flight in the area of Vitry-en-Artois, Arras. He and his colleague in a RE8 left the airfield at 09-35, being shot down at 10-30 in the Thelus-Rouvroy area. His plane was the second victory of Carl Menckhoff of Jagdstaffel 3. This period was known as “bloody April” and two other machines from his squadron also failed to return. source
Clifton Frederick Alban (1895-1917)Also known as Clifton Frederick Bailey (mother's maiden name) and Clifton Frederick Morgan (foster parents surname)Clifton F Alban was a son of Clifton F S Alban. He was born in Bournemouth birth on 24 March 1897 and the birth was registered by Florence L Bailey two months later.In 1901 he is shown as Clifton F Morgan, the foster or adopted child of George William Morgan (1854-1916) and his wife Mary Ann (nee Ells, 1854-1916) in Bromley Gardens, Kent. Several generations of the Morgan family have been named Clifton after him.
For a short time Clifton F Alban was a boarding pupil at Bedales School, Petersfield, Hampshire (where he was registered as Clifton Frederick Bailey) and then at Clayesmores school (pictured playing cricket at right). According to the current archivist Bedales was at that time a small, radical private school, established less than 20 years earlier and generally attended by a fairly unusual cross-section of British society.
After leaving school he sought and obtained an introduction to the London Regiment from the Clayesmores school principal prior and was commissioned in the 7th (City of London) Battalion, The London Regiment and had been their Transport Officer while at Ipswich and Sutton Verny. He joined the 17th Battalion Royal Fusiliers on 8 December 1914 as a Private (Regimental Number 1209) under the name of Clifton Frederick Bailey. They were then stationed at Whyteleafe, Surrey. On his application form he named his only surviving full sibling, John Bailey Alban of 2 Woodville Road, Ealing as his next of kin, although his father was still alive.
He was commissioned Temporary Second Lieutenant on 7 April 1915 and posted to the 14th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers. However he was immediately attached to the 2nd/7th London Regiment for training, joining them in Ipswich around 19 May 1915. It appears he never actually served with the 14th Royal Fusiliers as he then successfully requested a transfer to the 2nd/7th on 4 August 1917. He formally transferred on 10 September 1915 (but had probably remained with them throughout this period). He joined No.1 School of Aeronautics (Reading) on 2 October 1916, then No.12 Reserve Squadron on 17 November 1916 and 13 Reserve Squadron on 10 January 1917. He graduated as a Temporary Lieutenant (Flying Officer) in the Royal Flying Corps on 24 February 1917 and was posted to 59 Squadron Royal Flying Corps in France on 14 March 1917, seconded for duty as a Lieutenant on 27 March 1917 with precedence to 1 June 1916.
According to the Squadron Record Book he made a solo test flight in a RE8 on 17 March and a further test flight (with Corporal Green) the next day. His first patrol was with Lieutenant Law at 6.15 am but was abandoned after 15 mins due to heavy ground mist making it impossible to observe from 800 feet. He made a further test flight later that day and made a successful patrol with Lt Law on 25 March as escort to reconnaissance and photography.
On 5 April he went up with 40213 2/AM V.N. Barrie from 6.35 am to 7.50 am flying as escort to a reconnaissance patrol. On 6 April 1917, he was posted missing after failing to return from escort duty to a photographic flight in the area of Vitry-En-Artois, Arras. This period was known as “bloody April” and two other machines from his squadron also failed to return.
His death was presumed on 3 November 1917 and confirmed by the Army Council (Part II Orders dated 30 March 1918). At the time, he was flying an RE8 (A.3206) aeroplane and his observer was 40213 AMII V.N. Barrie (also killed in action). They left the aerodrome at 0935 being shot down at about 10.30 in the Thelus-Rouvroy area. His plane was the second victory of Vizefeldwebel Carl Menckhoff of Jagdstaffel 3.
At the time of his death his home address was 50 Granville Park, Blackheath, London, SE. He has no known grave and his death, along with that of many thousands of other WW1 airmen, is commemorated on the Arras Flying Services in the Faubourg-d’Amiens Cemetery, Arras at the Pas de Calais, France.
He was awarded the British War and Victory Medals. His short life is remembered by Clayesmore school by a stained glass window in the chapel.At the time of his death a Rev W A Hamilton of Croydon claimed to have brought him up although there is so far no independent confirmation of this. Clifton F Alban's presence in the Morgan's Bromley home as a four year old child in 1901 has been already shown.
At the age of 19 and in the same year he joined the London regiment, he married Doris Mabel Gregory. Their marriage was brief and there were no children. She later remarried. source
If you have any information about Lt. Bailey, please contact me, thank you.