Albert Waterfield GC (EGM exchanger)

b. 14/02/1881 Oakham, Rutland. d. 22/08/1968 Richmond, Surrey.

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 10/05/1921 Richmond, Surrey.

Albert Waterfield (1881-1968) was born on 14th February 1881 in Oakham, Rutland, the son of William and Catherine (nee Darker). He was the only boy out of five children. His father’s occupation was a chimney sweep, and by 1891, the family had moved to Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. Little more is known about Albert’s early life, though it is known that he enlisted in the Rifle Brigade in 1901, and served in the Great War, rising to the rank of Sergeant Instructor. During the Great War he was part of the 3rd Battalion and was thus an “Old Contemptible”. He was discharged from the Army in 1919. In 1911, he had married Mary Ellen Ardin in Oakham, but sadly she died young, and childless.

Albert Waterfield GC

In civilian life, Albert became a park keeper in Richmond Park, Surrey. On 10th May 1921, Albert was working in the park when he saw two men carrying rifles. As he was walking towards them they started to run away and he gave chase. He followed them for about a mile until, as they crossed Beverley Brook near the Robin Hood Gate, they turned and called to him to stop or they would fire. Waterfield continued towards them; when he was only 40 or 50yds away, one of the men fired two shots at him but missed. The men, both members of the IRA, scaled a wall and ran into a lane; when captured some distance away, they were found to be carrying 76 rounds of ammunition with them. They were trying to make an entry into White Lodge, the future home of the Duke and Duchess of York, later King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, who moved in two years later in 1923.

On 29th December 1922, Albert was gazetted for the award of the Empire Gallantry Medal and was the first recipient of the of the EGM in the Civil Division. In September 1940, the EGM was exchanged for the new George Cross.

In later life, Albert fell onto hard times, and for the last three years of his life, was living at the Royal Star & Garter Home for Retired Servicemen. He died in the home on 22nd August 1968 and was cremated at Mortlake Crematorium. His name is recorded in the Book of Remembrance. On 7th October 1971, his GC was sold at Sotheby’s to a private buyer. It was again sold at auction at Glendinning’s on 14th May 1986 and remains in a private collection.