Albert Barnett was born in Macclesfield in 1898, the son of Annie and Zachariah Barnett, a silk overlooker. In 1901, two-year-old Albert was living at 27 Waterloo Street, Macclesfield with his parents and siblings George (8), William (6), Samuel (4) and Hilda (4 months). By 1911 the family had moved to 35 Bank Street, Macclesfield, and included another four children: Annie (8), Thomas (7), Harold (3) and Ada (1).
Albert enlisted in the South Wales Borderers with service number 39019 on 4 December 1914. He trained as a signaller and spent some time attached to the signalling school before being drafted out to Salonika, Greece in December 1917.
At the beginning of 1918, the Allied troops in Salonika were prepared for a major offensive intended to end the war in the Balkans. The final assault began on 15 September 1918, the British being engaged in the Lake Doiran area, fighting the Bulgarians. The main attack started at 5.15am on 18 September after a three-day bombardment. The 7th battalion pushed forward almost a mile with great difficulty but the support to their right and left fell behind and they were exposed to machine-gun fire on both flanks. It is thought that no more than fifty men and one officer from the battalion returned to the British trenches, the remainder being killed, missing or wounded. The Bulgarians surrendered on 30 September 1918.
On 1 November 1918 the Macclesfield Times reported that Private Barnett was missing:
MISSING - SIG ALBERT BARNETT, S.W. Borderers, who was reported missing on September 18th, is the son of Mr and Mrs Barnett, 35 Bank Street. Signaller Barnett is 20 years of age, and enlisted on December 4th, 1914, being drafted out to Salonica in December last year. He was educated at St Paul's School and attended Park Green Sunday School. Prior to enlistment he was employed at the Hovis [Works], Manchester. Three brothers are also serving.
Private Barnett's body was never recovered and he was eventually presumed by the Army to have lost his life in Bulgaria (actually probably in Salonika) between 18 September and 15 November 1918.
Private Albert Barnett is not currently named on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. He is listed on the Imperial War Museum's Lives of the First World War website.
Locally, Private Albert Barnett is commemorated on the Park Green, Town Hall and Church Street West Methodist Chapel war memorials.
Brother of George Barnett, who served as Private 244327 with the Cheshire Regt; Samuel Barnett, who served as Private 290126 with the Cheshire Regt; and William Barnett, who served as Private 48403 with the Machine Gun Corps.
GRO (England & Wales) Index: Births
Census (England & Wales): 1901, 1911
British Army Medal Index Cards (Ancestry)
WWI Service Medal and Award Rolls (Ancestry)
WWI Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects (Ancestry)
WWI Absent Voters Lists (FindMyPast): Macclesfield Parliamentary Division
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Lives of the First World War website
Macclesfield Times: 1 November 1918
Research by Rosie Rowley, Macclesfield.