Alice Jane Rattle

British Civilian War Dead

Died Tuesday, 28th July 1942 aged 58

Alice Jane Last was born in 1Q/1884, the daughter of William Last (1843-1905) and Harriet Elizabeth Garnham (1845-1916), of Stonham Aspal in Suffolk. They had been married in 4Q/1880. She had a brother William John, who was five years younger and one other sibling who died at any early age. Her father was a grocer & baker in the village, and in 1901 at the age of 17 she was also working in the family shop there. She was still working there in 1911, by which time her father had died.

In 3Q/1917 Alice Jane married Alfred Rattle (1863-1921) of Cheveley, Suffolk. He was 21 years older than her at 54, and had five children by a previous marriage. In fact they were already distantly related by marriage; her mother’s maiden name was Garnham, as was Alfred’s first wife. Alice Jane bore him another child in 1918.

On 28 July 1942, German bombers were seen over Cambridge University at less than 100 feet and bombs were dropped on the Cambridge Union Society library, where extensive damage was done. Some irreplaceable books were destroyed, but fortunately the bulk of the collection was saved. Other areas to be damaged were Whewell’s Court of Trinity College, Portugal Place, the Round Church and 4 Jesus Lane, where Alice Jane Rattle was lived.

Also killed in this attack were Bessie Johnson, aged 52 of 4 St Clement Gardens, and Effraim Nahum, aged 25 of 13a Ram Yard.

Alice Jane Rattle was buried on 31 July 1942 at the Cambridge Borough Cemetery. The funeral was covered by the Cambridge Daily News:-
“The funeral of Mrs. Alice Jane Ratte, 4 Jesus Lane, Cambridge who died suddenly at the age of 58, took place on Friday last. The first part of the service was held in the Eden Baptist Chapel. The hymn Rock of Ages was sung and Handel’s Largo was played as the cortage left the chapel, Mr. S.G. Bigg being at the organ. The Rev. A.W. Whayman officiated both at the chapel and graveside. The immediate mourners were; Mrs. D. Rattle (daughter in law) Mr. and Mrs. W.J. Last (brother and sister in law) Mr. W. Rattle (step-son) Mrs. Geater Mr. W.E.J. and Miss O. Last (nephew and niece) Miss H. and Mr. E. Geater Mrs. W.E.J. Last Mr and Mrs. Lewis Mr. and Mrs. Richards Mr. F. Rattle Mr. and Mrs. Leverington Miss A. Pilsworth Mr. Douglas Rattle (Son) was unable to attend being on active service overseas.”

As was usual practice at this time, no mention was made in the newspaper report as to how the death actually took place.

Many thanks go to Selina for providing much of the above information.