Private Albert John Thrift, 15817, 2nd. and 3rd. Battalion Essex Regiment.
Died of Tuberculosis at Rosendale Farm where he was a Carpenter prior to enlisting, (now Vcsv Kijk In De Pot), Pniel, 9 March 1916. He was 41 years old.
It appears he may have lied about his age on his attestation papers as they state that he was 34 Years and 9 months, when, in fact he would have been 40 years old , therefore, at that stage of the war too old to volunteer (many below the age of 18 also volunteered and many saw service and were killed in action). A man wishing to join the army could do so providing he passed certain physical tests and was willing to enlist for a number of years. The recruit had to be taller than 5 feet 3 inches and aged between 18 and 38, later in the war this was increased to 41.
Albert Thrift was born on 7 December 1874 to Charles T and Catherine Thrift at Hastings in Sussex. At the age of 6 he lived at 28 Albert Road, Willesden, Middlesex. In 1891, they lived at 9 Pember Road, Willesden, Middlesex. He had one Brother Charles Thrift.
He was educated at Beethoven Street School, Westminster, he left school at the age of 14. In the playshed of the school in September 1885, the first woodwork class in elementary schools in London was opened. The instructor was J. T Chenoweth. As the expenditure was illegal, it was disallowed and the class was temporarily suspended. The course re-started with money provided by the City and Guilds Institute and was later taken up by the London School Board as a model for other schools.
In 1900, he married Edith Ellen Stickler and in 1901 they were living at 19 St. Johns Avenue, Willesden, his profession was Carpenter, his wife died in 1902 at the age of 27.
On 3 September 1903, he travelled to South Africa on Blue Anchor Line S.S. Wilcannia. His profession is listed as Carpenter. On arrival at Cape Town he moved to live and work on Rosendale Farm where he met and married, on 1 October 1906, Magdalena Christiana Jason. They had 2 children:
Albert James Thrift, born 24 April 1908 (would now be well over 100)
Catherine Annie Susannah Thrift, born 28 August 1910 (would now be well over 100)
A Picture at his grave shows Deon Roos, his Great Grandson and Loretta Delport his Grand Daughter. It is assumed the picture was taken after 2006 as the male is wearing Crocs (these appeared in 2006).
This picture, with kind permission of his family, shows him (seated bottom left) with a Cricket team, prior to World War 1:
On 12 September 1914, he volunteered to join the Army and was attested in Cape Town and joined the 3rd. Battalion Essex Regiment. On 7 April 1915, he was posted as part of a draft to the 2nd. Battalion in France.
Just 29 days later he was posted back to 3rd. Battalion, travelling to England on HMHS Asturias (a hospital ship) with Tubercula of Lung. He was medically discharged 9 February 1916 and returned to South Africa and his family at Rosendale Farm where he died of TB on 9 March 1916.
Rosendale Farm no longer exists but if you travel through Pniel on the way to Stellenbosch you will see the red sign for Kijk In De Pot on your left. Turn into the road and about 400 meters down on your left before you get to the Camp Site you will see his grave. This is an official Commonwealth War Graves Commission, South Africa, War Cemetery. Sadly, is not very well looked after by the Commission or by the Christian Owners.
He was awarded the usual trio of medals known as Pip, Squeak and Wilfred (in his case the 1914-15 Star).
Pip, Squeak and Wilfred are the affectionate names given to the three WW1 campaign medals — The 1914 Star or 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal respectively. These medals were primarily awarded to the Old Contemptibles (B.E.F.). and by convention all three medals are worn together and in the same order from left to right when viewed from the front. The set of three medals or at least the British War Medal and the Victory Medal are the most likely medals to be found among family heirlooms.
When the WW1 medals were issued in the 1920’s it coincided with a popular comic strip published by the Daily Mirror newspaper. It was written by Bertram J. Lamb (Uncle Dick), and drawn by the cartoonist Austin Bowen Payne (A.B. Payne). Pip was the dog, Squeak the penguin and Wilfred the young rabbit. It is believed that A. B. Payne’s batman during the war had been nicknamed “Pip-squeak” and this is where the idea for the names of the dog and penguin came from. For some reason, the three names of the characters became associated with the three campaign medals being issued at that time to many thousands of returning servicemen, and they stuck.