Alfred Cecil English was born in Wisbech in Lincolnshire but was brought up in West Kensington in London. He joined Dryden House from Oakham School in 1900 and left Oundle in 1903 at the age of 16. Leaving early, he rated few mentions in the Laxtonian magazine, unlike his older brother Arthur, who was a regular sporting hero, playing for the XV and rowing for the School Crew.
Alfred joined the Artists’ Rifles in 1904 and so booked an early ticket to France in October 1914. Later, he returned to England to take a commission and then re-joined his battalion at the front. He was killed in action, aged 30, in the Cambrai sector, near Marcoing on 30th December 1917. This village was much fought over during the Battle of Cambrai, taken first by the British and then re-taken by the Germans, it produced casualties well into the New Year.
Alfred English has no known grave and his name is inscribed with the names of 14 other Oundelians on the Thiepval Memorial. An officer wrote of him: “I was in France with him from October 1914 and knew then, and now since he has been back with us, what a fine character he was and what a fine soldier. He was always working, always cheery, always helping the men, and you could not help loving him.” The chaplain wrote that “the men always spoke of him with real affection”.
Alfred Cecil English was one of the older Oundelians to be killed in the war, having reached the age of 30 at the time of his death.