Albert Edward (Ned) Stringer was born in Ashton-under-Lyne on January 18, 1878. His father Edward Stringer J.P. was headmaster of the Trafalgar Square Day School.
His father died in 1900, leaving a substantial sum of money, and in 1901 Ned was living with his mother Ann Stringer and his sisters Bertha and Janet and his younger brother John (Jack) James Stringer. All of his siblings were teachers, his brother being a pupil / teacher. His oldest sister, Elizabeth Ann (Stringer) was married to Ralph Lees and also living in Ashton-under-Lyne.
He entered the Manchester University in 1897, taking a course in chemistry and obtaining his B.Sc. in 1900. In 1904 he was appointed as a Chemistry Master at Ashton Under Lyne Secondary School, and in 1906 Ned became a Freemason, joining the Ashton Minerva lodge where the 9th Battalion’s Medical Officer, Major Albert Hilton, was also a member. By 1911 he was living with his sister Ann and her husband in Trafalgar Square, Ashton where Ralph Lees had become the headmaster of the Trafalgar Square Day School. Ralph Lees had also been commissioned into the 1/9th Battalion Manchester Regiment in 1905 and by 1911 was a Captain.
At the outbreak of the War, Ned Stringer was the 36-year-old Deputy Headmaster at the Municipal Secondary School, Ashton-under-Lyne. With his brother-in-law’s help, he was commissioned into the 1/9th Manchesters as Second Lieutenant on September 2, 1914 and joined the Battalion at Chesham Fold Camp, Bury. Also in Camp was CQMS Henry Stringer, Ned’s cousin, and a long serving member of the battalion but Captain Ralph Lees had fallen ill in camp and had to return to Ashton to undergo an operation.
Ned sailed with the battalion to Egypt in September 1914 serving with them there throughout their training and preparations for action. While he was in Egypt he wrote a number of letters and postcards home to his sister Ann and brother-in-law Capt. Ralph Lees. These letters are published here.
Ned landed with the 1/9th in Gallipoli on May 9, 1915 as a platoon commander in “C” Company. There is only one surviving letter written while he was in Gallipoli, which was to his younger sister Bertha, and it is reproduced below:
Mediterranean Expeditionary Force
May 28, 1915
My Dear Bert,
Your welcome letter arrived today and as I am “resting”, so called, I have time to reply. We have been three weeks here & during this time I have lived many lives. We saw a bit of fighting on the Canal and then came on here. As we arrived, we found the whole British fleet in action and hundreds of guns replying. I never realised how real Belle Vue fireworks were but this bombardment which I suppose is the biggest that has happened in the history of the world was terrible.
At any rate the army is now well fixed up on land. When we landed, we were heavily shelled & an old South African soldier said he had seen more shells aimed at us in 10 mins than he saw in the whole South Africa war.
We advanced and occupied trenches and all through the night realised what rifle and maxim fire was. Later, we dug ourselves in the earth and then lived in dug-outs in the earth for some days. At last, we occupied the firing line & at the end of five days when we could not sleep, my company was given the job of making an advance. Each man took a pick and shovel and we rushed out in front and began to dig a trench 150 yards forward. We of course got head cover as soon as we could and by 2am were fairly well established though machine guns tried their best to remove our cover and get us at all points. We struck a spring about 3am and the water got above our knees and to add to our discomfort a heavy storm broke over us.
We worked on however, as only men who fear the worst can and they could not relieve us until 3pm next day. During those 30 hours I lived a lifetime and the feeling came that anything was preferable to a continuance of things. Now in the rest camp in delightful sunshine by the sea in a country resembling Marple things seem brighter.
Of our many casualties and trials, I will say nothing but I think all actually fighting, & realising what war is, want peace – peace with honour but not too unbending an attitude. Of the many thousands of England’s best lives lost I say nothing but no one can realise what privations men on service have to go through.
Give my love to all & may we meet sometime again.
This serves as a reply to all letters. As regards business matters, they must go by the board. I am in agreement with any action taken. Money matters so little now that it might not exist at all.
Again, I give you all my love & hope to meet you again before very long.
Ever yours, dear Bert
The following letter from his friend and then Company Commanding Officer Captain Okell was written to his brother-in-law Capt. Ralph Lees just 10 days after Ned’s and published in the Ashton Reporter on June 26, 1915:
“It is my painful duty to inform you that Ned (Lieutenant Stringer) was killed in action on the evening of the 7th inst. On that day our Company was ordered to charge the enemy and clear them out of the trenches in front of the firing line. On the left were other troops not belonging to our battalion, who had a similar task to perform. Captain F. Hamer and Lieutenant Wade were to charge one trench, and Ned and I the other trench. I was posted a little to the left to give the signal for the advance. I gave it shortly after 7.30, and with a mighty cheer our boys advanced. Immediately the enemy opened a terrific rifle and maxim fire, but Ned and I succeeded in reaching the trench. Unfortunately the enemy were able to open an enfilading fire, which made the trench absolutely untenable. We had to retire, but only about four of us succeeded in doing so safely. Hamer and Wade were subjected to cross fire. Captain Hamer fell before he reached the trench. Wade succeeded in capturing the trench, and held it until about 2 o’clock in the morning. I was of the opinion that the trench would be enfiladed as soon as dawn came, and ordered the troops to evacuate the trench. All the battalion was shocked at the terrible news of Ned. Ned had made himself a favourite with the men, and also with his brother officers. We all send you our deepest sympathy”
A couple of weeks after his death Ralph & Ann Lees received his official death notification from the Army:
2/Lt Albert Edward Stringer was 37 years old. His body was never recovered and he is commemorated on the Helles Memorial.
He is also commemorated on the Ashton-Under-Lyne Civic Memorial and the University of Manchester War Memorial, Main Quadrangle.
In March 1916, Captain and Mrs. Lees presented the Ashton Secondary School, where he was deputy headmaster before the war, with a large framed photograph of 2/Lt. Stringer.