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Person Details
27 Sep 1890
Albert Edward was the only son of Edward Decklan Phelan and Agnes Rose Phelan (nee Brown). Edward Decklan was probably born in Waterford, Ireland, in 1865 while Agnes Rose was born in Burton on Trent in 1861 (J/A/S). They were married in 1887 (marriage registered A/J/S Derby) and had three children; Agnes Mary (b. 1889 J/A/S), Albert Edward (b. 1890 O/N/D) and Edith Rose (b. 1891 O/N/D). All the children were born in Radford, Nottingham. On the 1891 Census Albert Edward (6m) was living with his parents and sister, Agnes Mary (1), at his maternal grandfather's house at 182 Denman Street, Radford. His widowed grandfather, George Brown (53 b. Repton, Derbyshire), was a butcher. Also in the household were George's daughter, Rose Brown (16, b. Burton on Trent) and his son, George (25, b. Burton on Trent) a commercial clerk. Edward Decklan Phelan was listed as a manager, sewing machines. On 1901 Census he was living with his mother, his maternal grandfather, George, the head of household and now retired as a butcher, his maternal aunt, Rose Brown (26), a pianoforte teacher, and his sisters Agnes Mary and Edith Rose at 7 Claypole Road, Hyson Green, Nottingham. His mother was not in the house on the night of the census as she was visiting Thomas Brown (67) a famer and butcher, and his wife Ann (67) who lived in Repton, Derbyshire. Albert's father, Edward Decklan, has not yet been traced on the 1901 Census. On the 1911 Census Albert Edward was living with his mother who was described as the head of the household. Also in the home were his maternal grandfather and his sisters Agnes Mary (21) a dressmaker, and Edith Rose (19), a confectioner's saleswoman, at 9 Sophie Road, Hyson Green, Nottingham. Albert Edward was was described as an analytical chemist. Again, his father has not yet been traced on the census and it has to be assumed that Edward and Rose had separated. However, it is probable that Edward Decklan was still living as when Agnes Rose was awarded Probate for her son's estate in 1918 she was described as the wife of Edward Decklan Phelan. Probate granted to his mother on 16th April 1918 Estate £258 1s 11d. Albert's address - and presumably that of his mother - was now 15 Claypole Road, Nottingham.
Attended High Pavement School, Nottingham. Albert worked as a pharmaceutical chemist pre war. He was a champion long distance runner with the Notts Harriers Club.
20 Nov 1917
1603922 - CWGC Website
15 Claypole Rd Nottingham
  • MC MC Military Cross
  • MD MD Mentioned in Despatches
1st Bn Northumberland Fusiliers
Served in University College Nottingham Officer Training Corps under Captain Trotman. Originally enlisted into the Notts and Derbys somewhere between the 23rd and the 28th September 1914 as 17369 Private in D Company, 12th Battalion. He was then discharged for his commissioning into the Northumberland Fusiliers. Appointed Temporary Second Lieutenant 13th May 1915. Went overseas post 1915. Appointed Temporary Lieutenant 24th July 1916 and was awarded Military Cross New Year’s Honours List – 1st January 1917. He was wounded in the attack on trenches to the east of Monchy Le Preux 3rd May 1917. Appointed Acting Captain 30th October 1917. Killed in an attack on Bovis Trench, which faced Bullecourt, by W and X Companies 20th November 1917. During the advance on the trench both Lieutenant Phelan and Second Lieutenant Apps were killed. Although the attack was successful, the positions gained were lost later in the day when the Germans launched a successful counter attack. Mentioned in Dispatches (London Gazette 11th December 1917).
Served as Intelligence Officer, and later commanded X Company. Nottingham Evening Post article dated 31st January 1917 reads : - “MILITARY CROSS FOR NOTTINGHAM OFFICER. “Second-Lieut. Albert Edward Phelan, attached to the Northumberland Fusiliers, who was recently awarded the Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry is the son of Mrs. A. R. Phelan, 15, Claypole-road, Nottingham, and prior to the outbreak of war was employed as a pharmaceutical chemist in the city. Joining the Sherwood Foresters, he subsequently received a commission in the Northumberland Fusiliers and has seen nearly eighteen months' active service. Lieut. Phelan is well known in Nottingham, and was a champion long-distance runners, being a prominent member of the Notts. Harriers' Club.” In the Regimental History report of the attack it says ‘It was then that the need was felt for a commander like Phelan, whose courage, coolness and resource had in the course of two years of war proved him the perfect leader’ Nottingham Post notice (abridged), 27 November 1917: 'Phelan. Killed in action November 20th, Lieutenant AE Phelan MC, Northumberland Fusiliers, age 27, only son of Mrs A Phelan, 15 Claypole Road, Nottingham. Mother, sisters.' Boots ‘Comrades in Khaki’, April 1915: Letters from the lads. ‘Pte AE Phelan is a breezy correspondent whose epistles are sure to be found entertaining by everybody. The following should be specially appreciated by the men at the Laboratory as being typical of a colleague who was popular among them all. '17369 ‘D’ Coy, 12th Sherwood Foresters, Shoreham, Sunday. Dear Charlie, No doubt when you first see this pencil scribble you will imagine that I am writing in a tent, shivering with cold and cursing the Kaiser. If so, you’re quite wrong, because I am in a comfortable armchair before a blazing fire, smoking a pipe of the Dean’s mixture (for which please thank JNW) and feeling as happy and contented as a man can do under such circumstances and after a good tea. You see eight of us have taken a cosy room in Shoreham so that we can snatch occasional hours of comfort, and as five of them are out today, myself and the other two are making the most of things. Of course it takes a bit of doing on Army pay, but it’s worth it, as there is a very frosty snap on just now, and I'm sure an arachis oil test would come down with a bump if left in our tent for an hour. We always leave a bucket of water ready for washing first thing in the morning, and the last few mornings we have had to break the ice of top before washing. The first morning this happened I got quite a shock as I was first up and being quite dark I plunged my hands into the bucket to encounter the solid layer. When I called into the tent and told the boys they thought I was joking, but when one of them got a lump of ice down his neck they realised the truth. Still we are getting hardened now so the cold does not worry as much escept at meals. It’s a bit rotten sitting around with cold feet and hands eating bread and marmalade for breakfast and drinking tea with a strong flavour of stew about it … That’s one consolation for us that we are getting hard as nails and put up with things which would almost kill us at home. We shall be all the better for it when we get across the Channel. By Gad, Charlie, I’m looking forward to that time. Just to do my little bit. It is a general opinion that the war will last another two years, so we shall all get there, and lots more who haven’t come up yet, and who may have to be fetched. Well, cheer-oh, old man, and keep smiling – I do – and eat, drink and be happy to make up for us. Write again sometimes and shove in all the news. Kind regards to all the boys. Yours AE Phelan.’ Boots ‘Comrades in Khaki’, April 2015: Letters from the lads. ‘18/2/1915. There are four large service ranges and we have been at it all day for the last fortnight, and shall be finished in a few days, after which we are ready for the field any time. We are being subjected to a medical examination and then shall be considered trained soldiers. It is generally understood that we shall move from her very shortly after completing our firing, but we do not know where. We form part of the 51st Brigade, with a battalion each of the Lincolns, S. Staffs and Borderers. If find the firing a very fascinating game and am doing very well at it, and often put up ‘possibles’; did one today in snap shooting at 200 yards while lying in a drenching rain. Guess that would suit Hibbert, eh? The new service rifle is a beautiful weapon. I have become quite fond of mine, and am never too tired to clean it. I only hope I shall not get ‘scuttled’ before I get a good chance of practising it on a few live targets. I rather think that matters will quicken up somewhat over yonder in a short time when the decent weather comes. There’s going to be a deuce of a row soon, and I wouldn’t take anything to be out of it now; it’s too big a thing to be an outsider over. We are in the second 100,000 and are about ready and I calculate that there are another 600,000 ready to follow soon afterwards. AE Phelan.’ Boots 'Comrades in Khaki', May & June 1915, 'Letters from the Lads' has another letter from Pte AH Phelan dated 2 May 1915, ‘Dear Mr Wilkie, I was jolly glad to have your letter and am seizing my first opportunity of replying. It ‘bucks one up’ tremendously to hear from friends’ at Nottingham and to feel in touch with one’s civilian associations. After having had over seven months of army life, we seem quite separated from civil life, becoming quite immersed in military routine … I have just heard that W Ratcliffe has got a commission. Good luck to him! .. We have quite a number of ribbon wearers [South African War] as privates in our battalion, one of them being Fred Marriott, an old Guardsman with four medal, who was night watchman at the Art Department, Parkinson Street.’ (Nottinghamshire Archives, RB.38) Boots 'Comrades in Khaki', May & June 1915: ‘Readers will be glad to offer congratulations to AE Phelan, promoted to a Second Lieutenancy.’ (Nottinghamshire Archives, RB.38) Boots 'Comrades in Khaki', May & June 1915, 'Letters from the Lads', contains another letter from Pte AH Phelan. Boots 'Comrades in Khaki', July 1915: 'Second Lieutenant AE Phelan. whose gazetting to a commission was notified in the last number of 'Comrades in Khaki', paid a visit to Island Street a few days ago, and delighted his old colleagues with his thoroughly fit appearance.' (Nottinghamshire Archives, RB.38) Boots 'Comrades in Khaki', August 1915: 'AE Phelan Second Lieut. Chemist and Athlete' (photographs): 'I received a copy of Boots Comrades in Khaki the other day in the firing line' - so Sergt JT Jackson on Island Street writes - 'and I need hardly say I found it most interesting. I am so pleased to read that Pte Phelan has got his commission. I am sure he deserves it: to leave a job like he had and start at the bottom shows the right spirit, and should prove an incentive to others.' AE Phelan, who holds the Major qualification of the Pharmaceutical Society, was engaged in Boots Analytical Dept. at Island Street. Soon after the outbreak of war, however, he joined the ranks of the Sherwood Foresters, and on May 13th last was gazetted to a commission in the Northumberland Fusiliers. As a highly interesting correspondent, Second Lieut. Phelan is familiar to all readers of 'Comrades in Khaki' and to his old friends and colleagues at Nottingham he is known not only because of his association with Boots, but also by reason of his athletic prowess. A member of the Nottingham Amateur Athletic Club, he gained great distinction as a cross-country runner, and his renown in this respect followed him into the army. One of the photographs show above depicts him after successfully contesting the 6/5 mile race of the Division. For some time Pte Phelan as he then was, underwent training at Bovington Camp, near Wareham, in Dorset, and when regimental sports were held at Poole on May 15th he was one of quite a brilliant band of competitors who entered for the long-distance race. He was the first to breast the tape at the winning post, having covered the 6.5 miles in 38 minutes, and he was followed by Lce. Corpl. Wilmot, Pte Frost and Lieut. Ashington, the latter a Cambridge Blue, champion of the Brigade and an Olympic runner. When the happy victor returned to camp he found awaiting him a notification that he had been gazetted to a commission in the Northumberland Fusiliers two days previously (May 13th)l this was followed immediately by his transfer to Bedford, where he was put through a further training for his new position. A friend who enlisted with Mr Phelan and accompanied him during his earlier service was Douglas McNicol, the amateur champion mile runner for both England and Scotland in the year 1911. He, poor fellow, died with distressing suddenness as the result of an illness in camp. Second Lieut Phelan has the good wishes of everyone at Boots, all of whom will follow his future career with interest.' (Nottinghamshire Archives, RB. 38)
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