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Alfred Sidney Osborn

Alfred Sidney Osborn 1894 - 1962

My grandfather, Alfred Sidney Osborn, was born in Deal, Kent on 11 August 1894. His parents Robert (Bobby) Osborn and Susanna Osborn (nee Beney) were part of a long tradition of sea-faring people in Deal, although Bobby had, by the time of Alfred's birth, moved into the more land-based (and probably reputable) occupation of fishmonger.

Alfred's family was, by any standards large, with four brothers and four sisters sharing their small cottage in George Alley. The cottage still stands and anyone walking along the alley past the row of cottages will be amazed that even a childless couple would find room to live there, let alone a large family, with many of the children already adults.

The young Alfred attended the Central Boys School in Deal and although the school ceased to exist many years ago, a form photograph does remain showing the young Alfred (back row, second from right) with a large grin on his face! Clearly school days were not too much of a trial for Alfred.

The next we hear of Alfred (aside from featuring in the Osborn family picture, seated on the floor in front of his parents and aged around 15) is when he began work as an apprentice baker in Deal. This is confirmed in the background details given to the Kent Police service when he joined in 1920 (notes). The baker's firm he worked for is unknown, and his stay there was relatively short. However, his baking skills were presumably called on during his service in the Machine Gun Corps as there is a picture of various servicemen from different regiments, obviously involved in sundry catering duties. Information received from someone knowledgeable about the MGC suggests that this was most likely due to the role the MGC played in supporting the war effort by collecting the fallen and providing cookhouses for the men.

Alfred's service with the MGC began on 24 January 1917 and ended with his discharge on 20 April 1920 which was around the time the Regiment was disbanded as its functions were no longer required once hostilities ceased. Although I don't remember any stories about his service, I do remember his medals as something to play with when we visited Paddock Wood and his medal card has been obtained from the War Office.

Despite the activities of dubious legality engaged in by his forebears, Alfred decided to go against this tradition and applied to join the Kent Police. He was appointed as a probationer on 11 June 1920 and the notes of his application provide interesting background on the 25 year old Alfred.

During his career, Alfred was posted all around Kent, serving at Gillingham, Ashford, Pluckley, Littlestone and eventually Paddock Wood, where he remained until retirement.

The record also shows that he received a commendation on 13 October 1936, detailed as:

Commended by Alderman Sir John Lawrie for vigilance and intelligence which led to the arrest of Peter Young, Henry Fay and William Bolman who were convicted at The Mansion House Justice Room for taking and driving away two motor cars without the owner's consent.

(Report no.T2886/36)

In 1921, Alfred married Edith May Cleaver. Although Edith's family home was in Cuckfield, at the time of their marriage she was living at 4 Coolinge Villas, Folkestone (no longer in existence) but the reason for her move from East Sussex to East Kent is unknown, as are the circumstances under which she and Alfred met.

Three years later, on 19 July 1924, Alfred and Edith produced their first (and only) child - James Cleaver Osborn. The name Cleaver was Edith's maiden name and its use as the middle name for their son protected it from dying out completely as there were few boys in the Cleaver dynasty. At the time of James' birth, the family lived at 12 Seaview Road, Gillingham - a small terraced house that still exists. However, not long after a posting to the south of Kent meant a new family home in Ashford.

On retirement from Kent Police, Alfred and Edith remained in the flat that I remember from the early 1960s in Paddock Wood.