Private Alfred Sancto


Alfred Sancto was born on 21 October 1892 in Newcastle-on-Tyne, Northumberland, the tenth of fourteen children of watchmaker Alexander Sancto and his wife Mary (née Tindale). Around 1902 the family moved to Belfast. At the time of the 1911 Census Alfred was living at 34 Agincourt Avenue with his parents, six of his siblings and a nephew. From 1911 to 1915 he served an apprenticeship in the grocery trade with widow Emma Louisa Todd (née Cooke). He married her on 24 May 1916 at the Belfast Registrar's Office.

Sancto enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Antrim on 4 November 1915 (No.1787). He trained at the regiment's Antrim reserve depot before embarking for France on 18 January 1917, where he was posted to one of the squadrons of the 1st or 2nd North Irish Horse Regiments.

Within months, however, Sancto fell ill. On 5 March he was admitted to the 9th General Hospital at Rouen. At the end of the month he was evacuated to the UK, where he was admitted to the 1st Southern General Hospital, Dudley Road Section, Birmingham. On 19 May he was found fit for duty and sent on ten days' furlough before returning to his regiment at Antrim.

On 9 July 1917 Sancto was one of around thirty North Irish Horsemen who, being no longer physically fit for front-line service due to injury, age or illness, were transferred to the Labour Corps and posted to No.664 Home Service Labour Company. Sancto was issued regimental number 333720. It appears, based on the records of some of these men, that they continued to serve at the North Irish Horse reserve depot at Antrim. On 17 November 1917 he was posted to No.395 Home Service Employment Company.

It appears that Sancto's health continued to improve, and on 22 July 1918 he was transferred to the Royal Fusiliers (No. G/87758) and posted to the 6th Battalion as a transport driver. On 13 August he was awarded 5 days' confined to barracks and lost a day's pay for being absent from tattoo.

On 15 September 1918 Sancto embarked for France. Initially posted to the 1st Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, on 26 September he was transferred to the East Lancashire Regiment (No.41327) and posted to the 13th Battalion. On 13 June 1919 he returned to the UK and on 7 July was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve.

After the war Sancto lived with his wife at 104 Ormeau Road, Belfast, where they continued to work in the grocery business. By 1961 he was living at 185 Ravenhill Road. He died in the City Hospital on 31 July that year and was buried in the City Cemetery.


At least three of Sancto's brothers also served in the war: Alexander Fitzmaurice in the King's Liverpool Regiment; Raymond in the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry; and George Edward in the Border Regiment.