A mother received a glowing tribute to her son after he died in the First World War.

Private Alfred Edmund Cripps, of Sunningwell, near Abingdon, volunteered for a series of perilous tasks in the trenches in France, despite having no experience of warfare.

After his death in France on October 25, 1915, his company sergeant wrote a letter to his mother, Mrs Cripps, describing him as “a gallant soldier and an absolute hero”.

Sergeant A May, of 3 Company, 4th Battalion, Grenadier Guards, said Private Cripps stood out as soon as he joined his platoon.

He wrote: “For a man who was absolutely fresh to the terrible business of war, he was exceptionally cool and collected.

“During the first night of his French experience, my captain ordered me to obtain volunteers to mend our barbed wire in front of the trenches.

“This, you will quite understand, is a pretty dangerous business.

“Nevertheless, your son at once came forward and volunteered to go out with the party.”

Soon afterwards, the Germans launched a bomb attack. After several hours, many of the British soldiers were on the casualty list, either killed or wounded.

The sergeant’s letter continued: “Volunteer bombers were called for and, once again, your son volunteered, although having no knowledge of bombs or the throwing of them. He, however, soon found out how to. He went into the firing trench and by his help and that of the other volunteers, the attack was successful.”

A few days later, the captain was ordered to find out the condition of the German barbed wire defences.

“He accordingly called for volunteers for a patrol to go and find out the necessary information. Here again, your son volunteered and together with a section commander, they obtained this valuable information.

“Though engaged on an especially perilous task, he seemed to have no fear. It was very early the following morning, just after dawn on October 25, that I very deeply regret to say your son was very seriously wounded and died a very few minutes afterwards.

“He could have had no pain whatever and we buried him simply but reverently in a soldier’s grave just behind our trench. I wrote his regimental number, rank and name on his wooden cross. To express my high opinion of him as a soldier, I painted under his cross these few words – ‘Peace, perfect peace, to a truly gallant soldier’.

“Rest assured, my dear Mrs Cripps, that you and your family have my heartfelt sympathy on this great loss which you have sustained. I can imagine what grief is now in your home. But take comfort from the fact that he died an absolute hero, admired and respected by the whole company.”

Details of the letter to Mrs Cripps appeared in an Oxford newspaper, a copy of which was found in the belongings of Edwin Cross, of Sunningwell, by his family.