Saturday, April 15, 2017

2145 L/Corporal Gilbert Arthur Heasman MM, 11th Australian Imperial Force


Digital copies of Gilbert Heasman’s World War One service papers can be viewed on-line at The National Archives of Australia.  Although the photograph of him on the right is undated, the presence of lance-corporal’s stripes suggests that it must date from after September 1918.  A summary of his service history follows.

When he attested on 12th April 1915, Gilbert Heasman was 22 years old.  He had been born at Lewes in 1893, his birth registered there in the June quarter of that year.  He was the third son of Edric Owen Heasman and Annie Heasman (nee Message) whose marriage was registered at Uckfield, Sussex in the December quarter of 1887.

The 1901 census shows the Heasman family living at Whitehouse Number One, East Chiltington, Sussex.  Edric Heasman (aged 36 and born at Mayfield) is noted as “stockman on farm”.  His 35 year old wife Annie Heasman is recorded as having been born in London.  Children noted are: Albert Heasman (aged 12, born in Bodle Street, Sussex),  Frederick Heasman (aged 10, born East Chiltington), Gilbert Arthur Heasman (aged seven, born in East Chiltington according to the census)), Daisy May Heasman (aged five, born East Chiltington) and Grace Hilda Heasman (aged two and also born in East Chiltington).  A two year old boarder, John A Irquhart (possibly), born in Liverpool, is also living at the address, as is a 59 year old widower from Wivelsfield, George Mitchell.  Two further children would also be born: Beatrice Heasman in 1907 and Percival Heasman in 1910.

Gilbert emigrated to Western Australia in 1912, following his brother Albert who had emigrated early the previous year.  Frederick would join his brothers in 1913. Prior to enlisting in the AIF, Gilbert and Albert worked as fettlers, helping to lay the railway line from Geraldton to Mt Magnet, a gold mining town.  In 1915, Gilbert joined the Australian Imperial Force.

On attestation at Geraldton, Western Australia, Gilbert gave his trade as Fettler and his next of kin as his father, Edric Owen Heasman, now living at Tutts Farm, South Common, Chailey.  He was five feet, six and a half inches tall, had dark brown hair, dark eyes and a medium complexion.  Distinctive marks were noted as vaccination marks plus scars on his left shin and left wrist. 

He was given the number 2145 and, on 6th May 1915, posted to the 6th Reinforcements of the 11th Battalion AIF.  This battalion had originally been formed in Western Australia in August 1914.

On 7th June 1915 he embarked for Alexandria from Fremantle, Australia aboard Geelong.  Arriving in Egypt he then embarked for the Dardanelles aboard HMT Berrima on 31st July 1915.  Five days later at Gallipoli, he was taken on strength by the 11th AIF but it wasn’t long before he was reporting sick.  On 24th August he was admitted to hospital with diarrhoea and, a few days later, on 7th September, was admitted to the 25th Casualty Clearing Station at Imbros with a recurrence of diarrhoea.  Two days later he was admitted to hospital and then, on the 12th September, to the 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Station.  He remained in hospital until 26th September, re-joining his unit the following day.

Gilbert then remained at Gallipoli until the evacuation was ordered, although the precise date of his departure from the peninsular is unclear.  He disembarked from HMT Lake Michigan at Alexandria on 6thJanuary but hadn’t been in Egypt long (27th January) before he was back in hospital (No 2 General Hospital, Cairo) with jaundice.  Further spells in hospital followed while he was in Egypt but on 23rd March 1916 he embarked at Alexandria for France, arriving at Marseilles on 5th April.

On 4th October Gilbert Heasman was awarded the Military Medal in the Field for gallantry at Pozieres. Chailey Parish Magazine and The London Gazette both noted this the following month.  He appears to have remained in France for the remainder of the war.  He was appointed lance-corporal in September 1918 and granted leave only after the Armistice had been signed, on 20th November 1918.  Between 22nd November and 7th December 1918 he was in the UK, presumably spending at least some of this time with his parents in Chailey.  He also took the opportunity, on 27th November, to marry Beatrice Ethel Weaver (born 1886 in East Chiltington).

Returning to France in early December, he then remained there until 5th February 1919 when he returned to the UK for embarkation to Australia on the 21st.  He was discharged there on 11th April 1919.  A medical board held on 10th June 1919 gave him a clean bill of health (despite his various hospital stays) and also noted that he had enlisted originally at Mount Magnet in March 1915.

After the war, for a short time, Albert and Gilbert ran a greengrocer’ shop in West Perth.  He had intended to settle in Australia with his wife but because of some difficulty in her settling there with him, he returned to England in 1920.  Two years later, their only child, Doris Heasman, was born at Lewes.

Gilbert remained in England for the rest of his life and died in 1965.  His medals are held at The Fremantle War Museum in Australia.

Gilbert’s brothers Albert and Frederick also served their King and Country during the First World War.

Lieutenant Albert Heasman MM,16th Australian Imperial Force


Digital copies of Albert Heasman’s World War One service papers can be viewed at The National Archives of Australia. The photograph, right, was taken after his commission as second lieutenant in January 1918.  A summary of Albert’s service history follows.

According to his attestation papers, Albert was born on 14th October 1888 in Hailsham, Sussex.  He was the oldest son of Edric Owen Heasman and Annie Heasman (nee Message) whose marriage was registered at Uckfield, Sussex in the December quarter of 1887.

Albert, born on the 14th October 1888, appears on the 1891 census as a two year old living with his parents and seven month old brother Frederick Heasman at White House, East Chiltington, Sussex.  His place of birth is noted as Bodle Street, Sussex.  Edric, 26 years old and working as an agricultural labourer, was born at Mayfield.  His 25 year old wife Annie was born in LondonFrederick was born at East Chiltington.

Ten years later, the 1901 census notes that the family is still living at the same address (reported as Whitehouse number one) with Edric’s trade now noted as “stockman on farm”.  There are also three more children: Gilbert Arthur Heasman (aged seven), Daisy May Heasman (aged five) and Grace Hilda Heasman (aged two).  A two year old boarder, John A Irquhart (possibly), born in Liverpool, is also living at the address, as is a 59 year old widower from Wivelsfield, George Mitchell.  Two further children would also be born: Beatrice Heasman in 1907 and Percival Heasman in 1910.

Albert emigrated to Western Australia in early 1911 followed by Gilbert in 1912 and Frederick in 1913.  Prior to enlisting in the AIF, Albert and Gilbert worked as fettlers, helping to lay the railway line from Geraldton to Mt Magnet, a gold mining town.  In 1914, war having been declared on Germany, Albert joined the Australian Imperial Force.

Albert’s records show that he attested on the 21st September 1914 with the 16th Battalion AIF.  He was given the number 595.  The 16th Infantry Battalion (Western Australia and South Australia) formed part of the 4th Infantry Brigade.  Albert gave his age as 25 years and 11 months, his trade or calling as labourer and his next of kin as W Heasman, Tutts Farm, South Common, Chailey.  He was five feet, eight and a half inches tall, weighed 142lbs, had a fair complexion and brown eyes and hair.

On 12th October he was appointed to C Company and the following day swore an oath of allegiance at Helena Vale, Western Australia.  He embarked at Melbourne aboard RMAT A40 “Ceramic” on 22nd December bound for Egypt.  After four months there he landed at Gallipoli on 25th April 1915 and was promoted lance-corporal the following month (13th).  Eleven days later, he was promoted to full corporal.

On 3rd October 1915 he was admitted to the 3rd Canadian Stationary Hospital with influenza and then transferred to the 3rd General Hospital.   On the 18th he was transferred to the British Base, “Aquitania”.

On 22nd March 1916, whilst in Egypt, he was promoted sergeant and on 23rd October 1916 was awarded the Military Medal.

On 7th April 1917 he was Taken on Strength with the 70th Battalion and on the 29th April proceeded overseas to France via Folkestone as part of a draft to re-enforce the 16th Battalion.  The same day, Base Records Office AIF sent a letter to Mr Heasman at Tutts Farm stating, “I have much pleasure in forwarding hereunder copy of extract from Supplement No 29854 to The London Gazette of 8th December 1916 relating to the conspicuous services rendered by No 595 Sergeant A Heasman, 16th Bn… Promulgated in Commonwealth of Australia Gazette No 62 of 19th April 1917.”

Sergeant Heasman re-joined his battalion on 3rd May 1917, but the following month (26th June), joined the 4th Training Battalion.  On 2nd July 1917 he arrived at Codford for duty with the permanent cadre.  Between 31st August 1917 and 15th September 1917 he attended a course of instruction in the Lewis Gun and qualified 1st class (Sgt).

On 1st October 1917 he was discharged from the permanent cadre of the 4th Training Battalion on proceeding overseas (the following day).  He re-joined his battalion on the 6th October, attended a week-long infantry training course at Aveluy on the 18th November and then attended a further course at an Officer’s Training College on the 27th December.

On 4th January 1918 he was commissioned as a second lieutenant at No 6 Officers’ Cadet Battalion, Oxford.  A confidential report on 23rd May that year reported that he had “shown good sound common sense, worked well and made good sound satisfactory progress.”

On 19th August 1918, 2nd Lieutenant Heasman again proceeded overseas, joining his new unit (unclear on his surviving papers) eight days later. He remained in France until 16th June 1919 when he returned to Australia aboard “Ormonde”.

Although no longer a native of Chailey, the Parish Magazine had also mentioned him during the First World War.  Under “Distinctions’ it recorded his name for the first time in November 1916 stating simply, Sergt A Heasman, MM, Australian Imp Forces, France.  This information was repeated up to and including the final published roll in July 1919.

After the war, for a short time, Albert and Gilbert ran a greengrocer’ shop in West Perth.  When Gilbert returned to England in 1920, Albert spent some time, in the words of one of his ancestors, “roaming around the north of Western Australia on horseback”.  He married Minnie Olive Griffiths in 1923 and in 1932 was granted a conditional purchase block of 1,000 acres of land at Moorine Rock.  He then began a career as a sheep farmer, buying up neighbouring land as the years progressed.  Albert and Minnie had three children: Edric John Frederick Heasman (born January 1925), Albert Charles Heasman (born May 1926) and Ronald Keith Heasman (born April 1928).  A fourth son, Robert, died shortly after birth in 1931.

In October 1968, still living at Moorine Rock, Albert wrote to the officer in charge at the Central Army Base Records requesting a Gallipoli Medallion.  It was acknowledged that he was eligible and he was duly sent it (to complement his Military Medal, 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal). 


Albert Heasman died in 1974 after a long and eventful life.  His medals are held at The Fremantle War Museum in Australia.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Chailey 2017




My thanks to photographer, Mike Anton, for sending me these new shots of Chailey. It's good to see the memorial (below) with the signs of spring creeping through in the background.


The shot below takes in both the war memorial and St Peter's church, Chailey, whilst the penultimate shot in this short series shows the triptych inside the church which was unveiled, prematurely, in 1918. 




Seeing this great photo below reminds me that I need to visit Chailey again this year and re-acquaint myself with the village, the names on the memorial, and some of the sleepers in the churchyard. The last time I came here was in 2008 when my daughter was two years old and we were still living in India. 






Sunday, February 12, 2017

Chailey War Memorial


Here's another photo from the unveiling of Chailey's war memorial on the 2nd October 1920. The crop below shows some of the men of the parish, but who are they?


Thomas Deadman is the man on the far right, but what about the other men, and who is the officer? A Blencowe perhaps? Also see my earlier post on the unveiling of Chailey's War Memorial.

10298 Pte Ernest Kelsey, Royal Fusiliers; later SE/31883 AVC

Private Ernest Kelsey was a patient at Beechland House Newick in 1917.  His entry in Nurse Oliver’s album reads:

The happiest hours of my life,
Were spent in the arms of another man’s wife,
My Mother.

Pte E J Kelsey
22 Royal Fusiliers
(Coventry)
9.8.17

He shares this page in her album with Sergeant H Hunter and 11066 Band Boy John William Pate, Dragoon Guards.

He is probably the same Private Kelsey who is mentioned in The East Sussex News of Friday June 29th 1917.  The paper reports:

INTERESTING STOOLBALL MATCH
The contestants were Major Grantham’s team of officers of The Royal Flying Corps from Brook House (Chailey) Convalescent Hospital and Miss Cotesworth’s team of NCOs and men from Beechlands (Newick) Convalescent Hospital, and the former gained an easy victory by 50 runs. 

The same match had also been reported on five days earlier in The Sussex Express which said that the event had taken place:

… at Balneath Manor, the residence of Major W W Grantham, between officers of the Royal Flying Corps from Brook House, the new convalescent Hospital, and a team from Beechlands Convalescent Hospital.  Those from Brook House were easy winners.  Needless to say, Mrs Grantham entertained the company present to tea.

Ernest John Kelsey was born in the market town of Bedworth in Warwickshire in about 1882.  He was a hatter by trade and appears on the 1911 census, aged 29, and still living in the family home with his brother and two sisters, all in their twenties.

No service record survives for Ernest but his medal index card gives the number 10298 for The Royal Fusiliers and SE/31883 for the Army Veterinary Corps.  The Royal Fusiliers regimental number dates to December 1914 whilst the AVC number is much later and dates to about the 8th or 9th October 1917, a couple of months after Ernest signed Nurse Oliver's album.  As he was only entitled to the British War and Victory Medal he was presumably wounded - or fell sick - overseas with the Royal Fusiliers, returned to England, transferred to the AVC, and then went back to France. 

Ernest Kelsey survived the war and died in late 1944 or 1945, his death registered at Nuneaton in the first quarter of 1945.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Mothers of the Empire - Mrs James Pointing of Chailey

On Friday 6th April 1917 the Sussex Express published a photograph of Mrs James Pointing of Chailey and her four sons and one son-in law. The digital version of this page is now available on Findmypast and The British Newspaper Library. This particular page, which is probably from old microfilm, has not scanned well and so anyone who desires a better copy is advised to go to the British Library and recall the original paper. There are separate pages on this blog for the men who are reported in the Sussex Express as:

Pte W Pointing, The Buffs
Sgt F Pointing, Royal Flying Corps
Pte G Pointing, Queen's Own
Signaller G Pointing, Sussex Yeomanry
Cpl E F Stephens, Royal Fusiliers

For what it's worth, even though it's a poor copy, I've reproduced the image on this post. Mrs Alice Pointing (who was possibly the cook for Sussex 54 VAD) is pictured below:




Beauty & The Beast

On Friday 9th February the East Sussex News published an article on "an entertainment" - Beauty and The Beast - which took place at The Parish Room, Chailey.  The full cast list was also printed, some of the players also appearing in Nurse Oliver's album.

The article and two subsequent articles are reproduced below.  Over time, I will add links for those men and women who appear in Nurse Oliver's album. For the others who didn't record an entry, all we know for sure is that they were convalescing at Beechlands in February 1917.

ENTERTAINMENT AT THE PARISH ROOM
An entertainment by the soldiers and staff of The Beechlands Red Cross Hospital, assisted by a few friends, took place at The Parish Room on Wednesday evening.  The proceeds are for The Prisoners of War Fund and, judging by the crowded room, the fund should benefit by a considerable sum.  Beauty and The Beast, a pantomime in three acts, proved very amusing and created roars of laughter.  It was preceded by comic songs by Mr Gus Avery. Songs by Miss Hoather and recitations by Miss Beauchamp Marshall.  The characters in the pantomime were represented as follows: Beauty, Pte Keenan; Beast, Lc-Sgt Croft; Languor, Pte Lucas; Vanity, Rfm Maginnis; Merchant, Lc-Corpl Smith (Canadians); Fairy Godmother, Lc-Corpl McCrorie; Folly, Rfm Hobbs; Commonsense, Gunr Bright; King Cole, Corpl Reynolds; Fiddler, Pte Flynn; Fiddler, S-S Atkinson; Fiddler and Farmer’s Boy, Lc-Corpl Stern; Highlander, Pte McKenzie; Queen of Hearts, Pte Oliver; Knave of Hearts, Pte Hubbard; Knight, Pte Lincoln; Wizard I, Pte Head; Wizard II, Pte Gray; Wizard III, Pte Washbourne; Bo-peep, Pte Proctor; Poppy, Pte Brassington; Bee, Lc-Corpl Smith (Buffs); Firefly I, Pte Robinson; Firefly II, Pte Jennings; Forget-me-not, Pte Hoidge; Fairies, Misses J and K Fenn.

Sunday February 18th 1917 - Chailey [The Sussex Express]
ENTERTAINMENT
The Parish Room was crowded with a large and appreciative audience on Wednesday evening, when a variety entertainment, organised by Miss Cotesworth, was given.  The first part consisted of song and recitations.  The second half of the programme was composed of a short musical play in three acts written by Miss Hughes, entitled ‘Beauty and The Beast”.  The proceeds will be donated to the Prisoners of War Fund.

February 23rd 1917 [The Sussex Express]

The variety entertainment which was held at the Parish Room a fortnight ago realised £9,17s for the Prisoners of War Fund.

Newspaper roll-call - Hickwells & Beechlands


On my original Chailey 1914-1918 website I included a page of extracts from local newspapers which mentioned convalescent patients and nurses. I am re-publishing that page here. For some of the men noted here, their name-checks is the only information I have.

The men whose names appear in bold, do not appear in Nurse Oliver’s album but from contemporary newspaper reports it is obvious that they were patients at Hickwells or Beechlands.  For the most part, they are referred to only by their rank and surname and it is therefore virtually impossible to research them further.  They do however warrant inclusion on this website and if any further information about any of the men named here comes to light, I will publish it in due course.

Soldiers highlighted in blue did leave an entry in Nurse Oliver’s album and their biographies can be accessed by clicking on their names.  A separate roll-call for men appearing in the February 1917 pantomime, “Beauty and the Beast” can be accessed by following the link.

Sussex Express
November 5th 1915 - Page 12 - Chailey 
CONCERT - A highly successful concert was held at the Parish Room the other evening.  The proceeds were in aid of the building fund and the performers included several wounded soldiers… duets: Corporal Wood and Private Allan; … song “The Sunshine of Your Smile”, Corporal Wood … recitation, “Wreck of the Hesperus”, Private Goldborough… The soldiers were cheered immediately they reached the platform.

Sussex Daily News
Friday November 26th 1915
CONCERT AT CHAILEY
A successful concert was held in the Chailey Parish Room on Wednesday evening in aid of the building fund.  The programme was composed mostly of items by the soldier patients of Hickwells Relief Hospital and, judging by the vociferous encores, was much appreciated.  A popular contribution seemed to be ‘Hickwells Band’ which, though not very tuneful, was certainly responsible for plenty of fun.  Bombardier Ryan announced the items and gave an excellent comic song with tambourine dance.  Sergeant Sheppard gave some bugle calls of the British Army.  Driver Bradley kept the audience in roars of laughter with his comic songs.  Corporal Nash, Lance-Corporal Smith and Private Allen’s [sic] songs were much appreciated.  The only civilian who took part was Mr Stone, who sang a couple of songs.

Sussex Daily News
Friday December 3rd 1915
WOUNDED SOLDIERS ENTERTAIN THEIR FRIENDS AT CHAILEY
The soldiers at Hickwells Relief Hospital at Chailey were ‘at home’ to their friends on Wednesday afternoon and by way of amusing them gave two excellent entertainments - one at 2:30 and the other at 4:30.  The bugle called the performers together and when the screens were withdrawn a nice little group of waxworks was disclosed, Bombardier Ryan shewing off their ‘beauties’ in his usual amusing way.  Corporal Nash (as St George) and Private Allen [sic] sang the ‘Tin Gee Gee’, Private Wise and Sergeant Calvert making two fascinating ‘Little Dolly Girls’.  Rifleman Collins, still on crutches, made a splendid broken doll.  Lance-Corporal Smith was a Japanese Lady, and, later on, although only having the use of one arm, cleverly ‘vamped’ some accompaniments.  While dresses were being changed, Private Hume and Private MacBride sang and danced, and then to the tune of ‘Here We Are Again’, Hickwells’ Pierrot troupe appeared and gave a spirited entertainment.  Driver Bradley and Private Allen [sic] made excellent ‘Corner Men’ and Bombardier Ryan was capital as the ‘Master of Ceremonies’.  The troupe included, besides those already mentioned, Sergeant Calvert, Sergeant Sheppard, Corporal Nash, Lance-Corporal Smith, Privates Wise and Holleran, Driver Cleary and Corporal Dicks, many of whom sang and recited.  Two of the nurses helped at the piano

Sussex Daily News
Monday December 20th 1915
SOLDIERS’ CONCERT AT CHAILEY
The soldiers at Hickwells’ Relief Hospital gave another entertainment to their friends on Friday evening and had an appreciative and crowded audience.  Corporal Nash made an excellent Master of the Ceremonies.  The performers were in fancy dress, some quite fine ‘ladies’ being among them.  ‘Hickwells’ Famous Band’ opened the proceedings.  Many and various were the instruments, from bells, drums, whistle-pipes and tambourines, while even a brass candlestick was made use of, and last but not least an accordion.  No encores were allowed and two of the nurses helped at the piano.

[There then follows a programme list - omitted here - performed by: Drummer Davis, Private Holyrod, Private Hume, Private Allen [sic], Lance-Corporal Savage, Corporal Nash and Private Wise].  Besides those already mentioned, the band included Sergeant Calvert, Corporal Littler, Driver Cleary, Private Harrison, Private McBride, Private Ladd, Private Dawson and Private Kearton.

Sussex Daily News
Friday January 21st 1916
IN AID OF BLINDED SOLDIERS - SUCCESSFUL CHAILEY CONCERT
In aid of St Dunstans Home, London, for soldiers blinded through the war, an enjoyable concert was held in the Chailey Parish Room on Wednesday evening.  The programme was nicely varied… wounded soldiers contributing three items.

… Gunner Davis and Private McCann each had to give a well deserved encore, and Private Baddock, in spite of a badly wounded head, gave some extremely clever ‘lightning sketches’ on the blackboard, illustrating some topics of the day, as for instance, ‘Lord Derby’s Christmas box for the Kaiser’, ‘Bottled up in the Kiel Canal’, ‘A captured British General’ (Omnibus) &c.


East Sussex News
Friday October 13th 1916
NEWICK – CONCERT IN AID OF ‘OUR DAY’
… the performers consisted of convalescent soldiers from The Beechland Auxiliary Hospital and several ladies, for the most part from Brighton… [Performers mentioned: Private McWilliams, Private Gordon, Private Raynor–Smith, Lance-Corporal Beeching, Private Tomkinson, Lance-Corporal Coates.  Proceeds amounted to £10] “Performers took tea together at the Beechland Hospital, after which the programme was repeated there for the benefit of those who were inacpable of going to hear it at the Reading Room.

East Sussex News
Friday January 26th 1917
[Whist drive reported – soldiers noted are: Private Maginnis, Rifleman Head, Corporal W Reynolds, Private H Proctor, Corporal A E Smith.]

Sussex Express
Friday January 26th 1917
WHIST DRIVE - A whist drive was held in the Reading Room on Wednesday in aid of the Red Cross Hospital ‘Bucklands’, [sic] Newick.  There were 24 ½  tables and the funds will benefit by £2,2s.  The prizes and winners were … Gentlemen … 3rd Private Magginniss, [sic] pipe rack, 170 points; hidden number, Rifleman F Head, money purse, 163 points.  For wounded soldiers only: 1st, Corporal Reynolds (bogey, bogey), 100 cigarettes, 169 points; lowest, Private Proctor, 10 cigarettes, 137 points, hidden number, Corporal Smith (better known as “Canada”), 50 cigarettes, 78 points.  The prizes, which, with the refreshments, and a box of cigars, for wounded soldiers only, the gift of a lady), were given away by Mrs Oldaker, to whom a hearty vote of thanks were recorded…

Sussex Express
March 23rd 1917 - Newick
[Another Whist Drive is reported held on March 22nd - 20 tables - special prizes for wounded soldiers going to Private Warner and Private Jennings.  Note, this may be the same Private Jennings who appeared in the Beauty and The Beast Pantomime held in February 1917.]

East Sussex News
Friday December 28th1917
[whist drive in aid of Reading Room.  Wounded soldiers mentioned: Pte Duffy, Pte Swift, Grenadier Whitwan.]

Sunday, January 29, 2017

21675 Pte O Keenan, Border Regt

I know very little about this man. He appeared in a performance of Beauty & The Beast which was reported in The East Sussex News and the Sussex Express in February 1917. He is reported simply as Pte Keenan and he played the role of Beauty. I have a note form another source that he was 21675 Pte O Keenan but that is all that I currently know.  The newspaper articles are reproduced below.  

Sunday 9th February 1917 [The Sussex News]
ENTERTAINMENT AT THE PARISH ROOM
An entertainment by the soldiers and staff of The Beechlands Red Cross Hospital, assisted by a few friends, took place at The Parish Room on Wednesday evening.  The proceeds are for The Prisoners of War Fund and, judging by the crowded room, the fund should benefit by a considerable sum.  Beauty and The Beast, a pantomime in three acts, proved very amusing and created roars of laughter.  It was preceded by comic songs by Mr Gus Avery. Songs by Miss Hoather and recitations by Miss Beauchamp Marshall.  The characters in the pantomime were represented as follows: Beauty, Pte Keenan; Beast, Lc-Sgt Croft; Languor, Pte Lucas; Vanity, Rfm Maginnis; Merchant, Lc-Corpl Smith (Canadians); Fairy Godmother, Lc-Corpl McCrorie; Folly, Rfm Hobbs; Commonsense, Gunr Bright; King Cole, Corpl Reynolds; Fiddler, Pte Flynn; Fiddler, S-S Atkinson; Fiddler and Farmer’s Boy, Lc-Corpl Stern; Highlander, Pte McKenzie; Queen of Hearts, Pte Oliver; Knave of Hearts, Pte Hubbard; Knight, Pte Lincoln; Wizard I, Pte Head; Wizard II, Pte Gray; Wizard III, Pte Washbourne; Bo-peep, Pte Proctor; Poppy, Pte Brassington; Bee, Lc-Corpl Smith (Buffs); Firefly I, Pte Robinson; Firefly II, Pte Jennings; Forget-me-not, Pte Hoidge; Fairies, Misses J and K Fenn.


Sunday February 18th 1917 - Chailey [The Sussex Express]
ENTERTAINMENT. 
The Parish Room was crowded with a large and appreciative audience on Wednesday evening, when a variety entertainment, organised by Miss Cotesworth, was given.  The first part consisted of song and recitations.  The second half of the programme was composed of a short musical play in three acts written by Miss Hughes, entitled ‘Beauty and The Beast”.  The proceeds will be donated to the Prisoners of War Fund.

February 23rd 1917 [The Sussex Express]

The variety entertainment which was held at the Parish Room a fortnight ago realised £9,17s for the Prisoners of War Fund.

Shoeing-Smith Atkinson

I know very little about this man. He appeared in a performance of Beauty & The Beast which was reported in The East Sussex News and the Sussex Express in February 1917. He is reported simply as "S-S Atkinson" which I take to mean Shoeing-Smith. The common surname means that he will be almost impossible to identify further. The articles are reproduced below.  

Sunday 9th February 1917 [The Sussex News]
ENTERTAINMENT AT THE PARISH ROOM
An entertainment by the soldiers and staff of The Beechlands Red Cross Hospital, assisted by a few friends, took place at The Parish Room on Wednesday evening.  The proceeds are for The Prisoners of War Fund and, judging by the crowded room, the fund should benefit by a considerable sum.  Beauty and The Beast, a pantomime in three acts, proved very amusing and created roars of laughter.  It was preceded by comic songs by Mr Gus Avery. Songs by Miss Hoather and recitations by Miss Beauchamp Marshall.  The characters in the pantomime were represented as follows: Beauty, Pte Keenan; Beast, Lc-Sgt Croft; Languor, Pte Lucas; Vanity, Rfm Maginnis; Merchant, Lc-Corpl Smith (Canadians); Fairy Godmother, Lc-Corpl McCrorie; Folly, Rfm Hobbs; Commonsense, Gunr Bright; King Cole, Corpl Reynolds; Fiddler, Pte Flynn; Fiddler, S-S Atkinson; Fiddler and Farmer’s Boy, Lc-Corpl Stern; Highlander, Pte McKenzie; Queen of Hearts, Pte Oliver; Knave of Hearts, Pte Hubbard; Knight, Pte Lincoln; Wizard I, Pte Head; Wizard II, Pte Gray; Wizard III, Pte Washbourne; Bo-peep, Pte Proctor; Poppy, Pte Brassington; Bee, Lc-Corpl Smith (Buffs); Firefly I, Pte Robinson; Firefly II, Pte Jennings; Forget-me-not, Pte Hoidge; Fairies, Misses J and K Fenn.


Sunday February 18th 1917 - Chailey [The Sussex Express]
ENTERTAINMENT. 
The Parish Room was crowded with a large and appreciative audience on Wednesday evening, when a variety entertainment, organised by Miss Cotesworth, was given.  The first part consisted of song and recitations.  The second half of the programme was composed of a short musical play in three acts written by Miss Hughes, entitled ‘Beauty and The Beast”.  The proceeds will be donated to the Prisoners of War Fund.

February 23rd 1917 [The Sussex Express]

The variety entertainment which was held at the Parish Room a fortnight ago realised £9,17s for the Prisoners of War Fund.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Fred Yeomans writes home


I was lucky enough to pick up this postcard on eBay last week. It was written by Fred Yeomans to his younger sister Florence back home in Chailey. He wrote,

M[y] O[wn] D[ear] Florr

Thanks so much for your most welcome letter just received, also [unclear] [unclear]. I was so pleased to hear that you are feeling better [unclear]; take great care of yourself. I am feeling quite fit. What rotten weather we are having; us have had rain, hail and snow; quite a selection[unclear]. I will write to [unclear] tomorrow. Good night dearest sis, fondest love and heaps of x. I remain, for ever, your loving Bro, xxx Fred xxx

The card is dated 16th April 1917 and was probably with Florence a few days later as there is a British postmark dated 19th April.

I am delighted to have found this card which adds another small detail to Frederick Yeomans' life.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Rifleman Hardcastle


I know next to nothing about this man. The photograph above, pasted into Nurse Oliver's album, identifies Rifleman Hardcastle as the man sitting front left with an eye injury.  That he is indicated as a Rifleman suggests a Rifle regiment of course like the King's Royal Rifle Corps or the Rifle Brigade; perhaps a Territorial Force battalion like the 5th London Regiment or the 6th King's (Liverpool Regiment); there are many possibilities. 

The photo was taken at Beechland House in the summer of 1916 but that, pretty much, is all that I know of Rifleman Hardcastle.

11976 Pte John Edward Griffiths, 10th Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment)

11976 Private John Edward Griffiths was a patient at Beechland House in 1916.  His entry in Nurse Oliver’s album reads:

Pte J E Griffiths
11796
West Riding Regt
Gassed at Plugstreet

Aug 29/16

Private Griffiths shares this page with 486742 Sapper Arthur Bee of the 470th Field Company, Royal Engineers.

John Griffiths was born in 1885 and - judging by his regimental number - almost certainly enlisted around 8th September 1914.  11794 Arthur Dunkerley certainly enlisted on this date, and with a number just two digits greater, it seems a good bet that John Griffiths did too. Nevertheless, he certainly didn't go overseas until 1916 as his medal index card indicates that he only received the British War Medal and Victory Medal.

It is uncertain from John's autograph entry and the scant surviving information regarding his war service, whether he was gassed on the 29th August 1916 or whether that was the date of his entry in Nurse Oliver’s album.  The medal roll entry notes that John served with the 10th West Riding Regiment which formed part of the 69th Brigade in the 23rd Division.

After he had recuperated at Beechland House he was transferred to the Durham Light Infantry and later discharged from its 21st Battalion on 2nd May 1918.  This suggests that he was a casualty for a second time.  By this stage he also had a new regimental number – 66280 - which would have been issued after March 1917.