b. 10/12/1893 Stepney, London. d. 23/11/1915 La Brique, Belgium.
Alfred George Drake (1893-1915) was born at Copley Street, Stepney, London on 10th December 1893 and was baptised on 18th December 1898 at St Dunstan’s Church, Stepney. His father was Robert Drake, a rope maker, who later became a plasterer’s labourer. His mother was Mary Ann nee Potter, and his parents married at St Simon Zelotes Church, Bethnal Green on 1st June 1890. Alfred had three sisters, though two other children didn’t survive infancy.
Alfred was educated at Ben Jonson London County Council School, Stepney before being employed as a messenger by the Port of London Authority. He enlisted on 3rd September 1914 and went to France on 20th May 1915.
On the night of 23rd November 1915, near La Brique, France. He was one of a patrol of four which was reconnoitring towards the German lines. The patrol was discovered when close to the enemy who opened heavy fire with rifles and a machine gun, wounding the Officer and one man. The latter was carried back by the last remaining man. Corporal Drake remained with his Officer and was last seen kneeling beside him and bandaging his wounds regardless of the enemy's fire. Later a rescue party crawling near the German lines found the Officer and Corporal, the former unconcious (sic) but alive and bandaged, Corporal Drake beside him dead and riddled with bullets. He had given his own life and saved his Officer.
Alfred was buried in La Brique Military Cemetery No 2 after his body was recovered. Alfred never married and his VC was presented to his father by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 16th November 1916. In addition to his VC, he was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20 and Victory Medal 1914-19. The medals were purchased privately by the Ashcroft Trust in 2001 and is part of the Ashcroft Collection at the Imperial War Museum.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: LORD ASHCROFT GALLERY, IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM.
BURIAL PLACE: LA BRIQUE MILITARY CEMETERY, YPRES, BELGIUM.
Alfred Drake's medals including VC on display at the Lord Ashcroft Gallery, Imperial War Museum, London (August 2014).
Cemetery Plan courtesy of Kevin Brazier
PLOT I, ROW C, GRAVE 2
War Illustrated, 5th February 1916