Lieutenant Albert Henry Cleaver


Albert Henry Cleaver was born at Coventry on 28 October 1892, son of a watch and clock maker. He was educated at Saltley College School, Birmingham and lived at 190 Heather Road, Small Heath, Birmingham.

On 14 February 1913 he enlisted in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment (No.1898). He was made acting sergeant on 5 June 1915.

Cleaver went to France on 21 May 1916 with 2/6 Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. On 30 June he received a shrapnel wound to his left shoulder and was evacuated to England. After recovering he was posted to the 5th Reserve Battalion of his regiment. He applied for a commission in the Machine Gun Corps and was sent to the Officer Cadet Battalion at Bisley on 25 October 1916. The following February he was transferred to No.2 Cadet Battalion at Pirbright. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant on 13 April 1917 and posted to the Army Cyclist Corps. He was sent to France to following month.

On 20 April 1918 Cleaver was serving at Bouzencourt on the Somme front with the V Corps cyclist battalion (North Irish Horse).

As a Corps Observer his duties necessitated his continually visiting his Observation Posts in an area subjected to continuous enemy shell fire which in the present stage of operations is exceptionally intense.

During one barrage he was buried alive in the ruins of a house. He was dug out, but was “badly shaken” according to one report. Although suffering from shell-shock, he returned to duty nine days later.

On 21 August Cleaver was badly gassed. Unfit for further front-line service, on 28 October he was attached to the Labour Corps and posted to the 25th Prisoner of War Company, Marquise. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant on 13 October and made acting captain on 19 February 1919.

Cleaver left his unit on 4 June 1919 and was admitted to Maudsley Neurological Clearing Hospital suffering from Neurasthenia (shell-shock) resulting from his experience being buried alive. “Although I have been in action & injured since [then],” he stated, “I have not been the same in health since.” He was discharged on 21 August, the diagnosis being:

Neurasthenia – 2½ yrs. at the front. two years in the trenches. Has had a great deal of hard work under shell fire. Buried April 1918. Dug out of ruins of a house. Very shaky; sent to hospital. Resumed duty after a fortnight. Dreams, headaches, very nervous. Gassed Aug. 1918, unconscious several hours. In hospital 3 weeks. Present condition:- Has shooting pains in left leg, arm and behind r[ight] ear which is deaf. Fatiguability, loss of concentration, headaches, loss of control, tremors of hands, accentuated knee jerks, eyes normal.

Cleaver relinquished his commission on 30 April 1920.

Six years later he applied to the War Office for work as a draughtsman (his pre- and post-war profession) in an arms factory. He was offered a position of junior draughtsman, but turned it down.