Albert J. Chilvers (sometimes Chilver) is thought to have joined the army before the war. He was killed in action in Gallipoli in May 1915.
He is thought to have been the person of that name who was born in Dover, Kent around 1878, the son of William Chilvers and Elizabeth Chilvers. His father had been born in Ardleigh c1847; his mother c1852 in Harwell in Berkshire.
His siblings included Frederick Chilvers (born c1876 in Dover), Mary J. Chilvers (born c1870 in Battersea, London) and Ada E. Chilvers (born in 1881 in Battersea).
He was recorded in the 1881 census, aged 3, living with his parents and three siblings in Mill Yard, East Street in Colchester. His father was a farrier.
That man is likely to be the 31 year-old Albert Chilvers, born in Dover, and unmarried who was recorded by the 1911 census serving as a Private soldier in E Company of the 1st Battalion of the Essex Regiment at Quetta, Baluchistan in India.
Alternatively he may be the man, who according to the Essex Regiment Museum was awarded two good conduct badges and completed 21 years’ service with the Essex Regiment on 29th November 1910.
Either way, the Albert commemorated at Chelmsford served as Private 5591 in the 1st Battalion of the Essex Regiment. The battalion was part of the 88th Brigade in the 29th Division and had been in Mauritius at the outbreak of the war. It returned to England in December 1914.
In March 1915 Albert’s battalion was based in Warwickshire. It moved to Avonmouth on 21st March 1915 and embarked on S.S. Caledonia on the first part of the journey to capture the Gallipoli peninsular in Turkey from Turkish forces.
The battalion, including Albert arrived in Alexandria, Egypt on 2nd April 1915 and after a few days in Egypt sailed to Mudros Harbour, which was reached on 16th April 1915. There they practised landing techniques, before setting sail for Gallipoli on the evening of 24th April 1915. They arrived off Cape Helles just before dawn the following day, and left their mother ships to land in smaller boats at ‘W’ Beach on the peninsula's south-western tip.
After landing Albert’s battalion moved forward and took part in an successful afternoon attack on Turkish forces on Hill 138 with the 4th Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment. Enemy counter-attacks during the night were repulsed. The following day was spent consolidating those positions prior to an advance towards the inland village of Krithia which began in the late afternoon of 27th April 1915. That evening the battalion entrenched two and a half miles from the village. The following morning an attempt was made to capture the village from the Turks, but progress was halted a mile from it by enemy forces and the battalion was driven back to the trenches that had been vacated that morning. The battalion lost 14 killed, 76 wounded and 33 missing, many from machine gun fire in what was later known as the First Battle of Krithia.
CHILVERS ALBERT J.,
Private, 1st Battalion, Essex Regiment
The last two days of April were spent reorganising and on 1st May 1915 the battalion went into reserve at Morto Bay. That night the battalion, and the whole of the Allied front line was subject to a heavy attack by Turkish forces which was eventually repulsed. Herbert’s battalion suffered 14 killed, 31 wounded and five missing. The dead included the commander of the battalion.
Albert’s battalion went into reserve on the evening of 5th May 1915, but the following day was ordered to move forward to occupy a ridge one mile south-west of Krithia as part of an unsuccessful attempt to capture the village, later known as the Second Battle of Krithia. Over the next three days the battalion lost five officers wounded, 15 other ranks killed and 137 wounded, including three Chelmsford men.
The 1st Battalion of the Essex Regiment, by then exhausted by continuous fighting in tough conditions, went back to rest between the western coast and Krithia Nulla. On 16th May 1915 the battalion returned to the front line, relieving the 8th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment between Fir Tree Wood and Gully Nullah. On the night of 18th-19th May 1915 X and Z companies of Albert’s battalion, along with comrades from the Royal Scots occupied Fir Tree Wood, suffering 29 casualties in the process. A post war history of the battalion reported:
“A heavy thunderstorm on the 25th added discomfort, for it flooded the trenches, and the hours of darkness were spent in draining operations. About this time the making of jam tin bombs was commenced to supply the deficiency in hand grenades, and each unit was ordered to send one N.C.O. and six men to be instructed in their manufacture. Incoming Territorial troops were also attached for short periods to the various battalions for instruction, part of the 4th East Lancashires temporarily serving with Essex. On the [penultimate] day of May Z Company attempted to retaliate on the Turks for seizing an advanced trench from another battalion,, but as the first men out of the trench were hit by enfilad machine gun fire from both flanks the effort was abandoned. There were 22 casualties, including Capt. Pepys, M.C. wounded. During this turn of duty there was much effort to stop gap the right of the Essex caused by the Battalion edging to the left during its advance, and on May 31st the opening was reported closed, despite enemy activity.”
It was during this period, on 30th May 1915, that Albert was killed in action. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Helles Memorial in Gallipoli, on the Civic Centre Memorial, Chelmsford, and at Moulsham Parish Memorial, St. John’s Church, Moulsham. He was entitled to the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, and Victory Medal.