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Albert Routledge was born in April 1894, in Great Strickland Cumbria. His parents, Thomas and Jane moved to Patterdale and farmed at Noran Bank Farm. Albert was the youngest of three boys, with Matthew and John his eldest brothers. He attended Patterdale School and by 1911 he was working on his Father’s farm as a Carter.
It is likely that Albert enlisted alongside his elder brother John, although no record of his service remains. We do know that, unlike John (who went to Egypt), Albert headed to France arriving there on the 24th July 1915. Initially he may have been part of the Army Service Corps (like John), but we know he ended up as a member of the 7th Battalion of the Border Regiment.
He was promoted to Lance Corporal and then again to Corporal, and it was whilst at this rank in November 1917 at the infamous Battle of Passchendaele that he was awarded the Military Medal. The Cumberland and Westmorland Herald did not give any details but said simply that “He has been wounded but is back to duty again”. His good friend Eddie Pool says that Albert used to tell him he received the medal for saving the lives of some senior Staff Officers who were wandering into a dangerous part of the trenches. Albert, who was heading in the opposite direction, warned them off, just before German Shell exploded in the section of trench they were about to walk into. Whether this is true we will never know, but another great story is how Abe met his great friend Johnnie Pool who was serving in the Tank Corps as a gunner. Johnnie chanced upon a section of infantry from the Border Regiment. Hoping for news of his friends from home he jumped out of his tank and recognised one of the men as his mate Abe. By all accounts there was some confusion and much swearing at the start of the reunion due to John’s Splatter Mask which made him quite difficult to recognise as Abe’s friend from Glenridding! Albert continued to serve with distinction for the duration of war, being promoted again to Sergeant, before his final demobilisation in February 1919. As the Herald reported at the time of his Golden Wedding Anniversary in 1972.
“He spent nine months at Ypres followed by action at the Somme and had an exceptionally rough time. He was sergeant in charge of first line transport and although in the thick of fighting all the time, came through it all unscathed. He was awarded the Military Medal for bravery in the field during a fierce engagement at the Battle of Paschendaele, November 1917. Throughout the war he received a copy of the "Herald" sent by his sister Mrs. S. Hadwin, who ran the carrier service between Patterdale and Penrith.”
Tragically Albert’s elder brother John, who served with the Army Service Corps, had died in December 1918 in Basra.
After the war Albert returned to Noran Bank shortly afterwards met the girl he was to marry, Miss Ann Tindal, who was employed at the Ullswater Hotel (now the Inn on the Lake Hotel). After courting for two years they married at Flimby Church, the bride's home town. After his marriage he worked on neighbouring farms until he acquired his own at Bridge End, Martindale, where he farmed for nine years but owing to his wife's ill health they left and went to Ambleside during the Second World War. Whilst at Martindale Abe and Ann did not have very much money and she used to go to Penrith market with two or three old hens and perhaps 2lb of butter. She used to row across the widest part of Ullswater in her husband's old boat-
"I used to row across the lake every week. I tied the boat up and would catch the bus, do some shopping, unlock the boat and go back over, every Wednesday".
Abe worked on contract work for the Lakes Urban Council for a period of seven years after which he returned to Side Farm, Patterdale, where he farmed until his retirement in 1961. They then moved to High Glenridding.
Abe was a keen horsemen and again at the time of his 50th Wedding Anniversary the Herald recounted a story of his horsemanship.
“Mr. Routledge has always been a keen horseman and he recalls the time he had the ride of his life at Brough Hill Fair in the presence of Lord Lonsdale who was in the habit of attending the fair to buy ponies for shooting parties.
Mr. Joe Swinburn, Gowbarrow hall and a horse dealer mounted Mr. Routledge on an unbroken stallion which immediately went berserk and horse and rider charged through a huge beer marquee which owing to the weather being fine had its sides rolled up.
Tables and drinkers were scattered in all directions but fortunately no one was hurt. The stallion charged through the exit at the opposite end of the tent and out into the open field, but failed to dismount its rider.
Mr. Routledge had never been without a horse until two years ago and had spent a good deal of his life breaking horses for other people.”
Throughout his time in the Dale Abe remained great friends with Johnnie Pool, who he’d been at School with in Patterdale, and his son Eddie and his wife Ann, who still live in the village. Albert died in Carlisle in March 1980, aged 86, and his wife Ann died shortly after her 100th birthday. As Ann said at the time of their Golden Wedding Anniversary “We have never been rich but always happy”. Who can ask for more that that. Abe is remembered on the Glenridding Village Hall Roll of Honour alongside his brother John Routledge and good friend Johnnie Pool.
Sergeant Albert (Abe) Routledge MM
16011, 7th Battalion, The Border Regiment
Born 26th March 1894 , Great Strickland. Died March 1980 Carlisle Aged 86
Son of Thomas and Jane (nee Clapham) Routledge, Noran Bank Farm Patterdale
Married Ann Tindal and lived at Side Farm Patterdale and High Glenridding .
C&W Herald Story on Albert’s MM 24th November 1917