Private Albert Twissell, 16th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment, died on 14th May 1917. He was born in 1895 at Burton Green, situated on the boundary of the parishes of Berkswell, Stoneleigh and Kenilworth, and was baptised at Kenilworth on 14th August 1898.
He was the sixth of the nine children (four sons, five daughters) of parents John (a farm labourer, who died in 1916) and Elizabeth (née Kyte/Keyte), who had married in 1883. Two of his brothers – John William (1885-1970) and Isaac Henry (1899-1994) – are both known to have served in the First World War. John William Twissell enlisted with the Royal Garrison Artillery in January 1915, a few days after his marriage to Edith May Massey. Youngest brother Isaac Henry (apparently known as Henry) (1899-1974) enlisted in December 1917 but didn’t see active service overseas before the end of the war.
According to the Coventry Evening Telegraph 25 November 1915, Albert enlisted in November 1915 under Lord Derby’s Group Scheme, volunteering for immediate service, rather than attesting and then waiting to be called up as 95 per cent of Lord Derby’s recruits did. He was killed in action on 14th May 1917, and a letter sent to his mother was published in the local newspaper the following month:
Coventry Standard 1st June 1917KILLED IN ACTION. – Mrs Twissell, of Redfern Cottages, Balsall, has received the following letter from Captain J.A. Tippet, R.A.M.C., notifying her of the death of her son, Private Albert Twissell, of the 16th R.W.R.:“16th Royal Warwickshire Regiment, B.E.F., France, May 13th, 1917. Dear Madame, – Though a stranger to you, I hope you will accept my real sympathy in the loss of your brave son. I am the medical officer of his regiment, and I thought you would like perhaps to hear the circumstances of his death.He was on duty in the front line when a shell burst close in front of him and wounded him mortally just above the left eye. He was brought to my aid-post within a few minutes. I saw him at about four o’clock a.m., and he died at just 7 a.m. He was never conscious from the moment he was hit, and, I am convinced, felt no pain. For him as a person this life ended at the explosion of the shell, and though his poor body breathed for a little longer, he himself had already reached his ‘rest billets.’He was buried by his comrades near the place where he gave his life for his country. One of them who had been a preacher before the war read the Burial Service, as it was impossible to get a clergyman. I cannot, of course, tell you just where his grave is, but in a few weeks the War Office will be able to give you information.I believe I can understand some of your sorrow, for my own dear brother was killed out here in just the same way. So allow me once again to express my real sympathy, and to congratulate you on being the mother of a brave soldier who did not hesitate to give his all. It is from their mothers that men learn self-sacrifice. – Yours sincerely, JOHN A. TIPPET (Captain, R.A.M.C).
Private Albert Twissell is buried at Orchard Dump Cemetery, Arleux-en-Gohelle, and is also commemorated locally on war memorials at Balsall Common and Temple Balsall.
His brother, John William Twissell, appears to have been keen to preserve his brother’s memory. John named his son, born in 1923, Albert, presumably in memory of his brother. Tragically, this Albert died before reaching his first birthday. John’s next son, born in 1927, was also named Albert. Albert’s mother, Elizabeth, died in 1939, aged 76.
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