Tuesday, July 18, 2006

33549 Pte William Henry Spice, 1st East Surrey Regiment

William Spice and Richard Deane, both with Chailey connections, died this day in 1917. This is William Spice's story.

William Henry Spice does not appear in Chailey’s parish magazine but Soldiers Died in The Great War notes that he was born in “Chailey, Kent”. This is certainly an error and in all probability he was not born in Chailey. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Debt of Honour Register notes that he was the “Son of Mrs. W. Spice, of Gasometer House, Broadstairs, Kent.”

Soldiers Died notes that he was living in Broadstairs, Kent and enlisted at Canterbury and records him as 33549 Private William Henry Spice of the 1st East Surrey Regiment. He was killed in action in France and Flanders on 18th July 1917 aged 19 and is commemorated on bay six of the Arras Memorial, France.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

G/18963 Private Charles Buckwell, 6th East Kent Regt

Charles Buckwell is one of Chailey's forgotten men. He was born in Chailey village and killed in action 89 years ago today. He is not however commemorated on Chailey's war memorial and I have often wondered whether the fact that he was illegitimate had anything to do with this. This is his story.

Charles was born around May 1880 and features on the 1881 census of England and Wales as a ten month old infant living at Buckwells Cottage, South Street, Chailey. The head of the family is noted as his grandfather, Charles Buckwell, a 53 year old agricultural labourer and his two daughters: Elizabeth Buckwell (aged 23) and Caroline Buckwell (aged 21). Both the daughters are noted as being single and both working as general domestic servants. Elizabeth Buckwell though, was also Charles’ mother.

On the 1891 census, ten year old Charles appears living alone with his grandfather at South Street, Chailey. He is recorded as being a scholar.

By the time the 1901 census was taken, Charles (aged 20), was boarding with his mother and her husband and family. Elizabeth Ann Buckwell had married John Weller in 1883, their marriage being recorded in the September quarter of the Lewes register for that year. Charles is recorded as “carter on farm” and, besides his mother and step-father, shared the family home with the Weller children: George Weller (aged 15, working as a carter’s mate on a farm), John Weller (aged 13, also working as a carter’s mate on a farm), James C Weller (aged 11) and Ellen Weller (aged eight).

Having lived in Chailey for the first twenty years of his life, Charles Buckwell must have moved out of the village at some point after the 1901 census was taken. Soldiers Died in The Great War notes that he was living in and enlisted at Hastings in Sussex. He joined the 6th Buffs (East Kent Regiment), probably under The Derby Scheme, and became G/18963 Private Charles Buckwell.
Without further information at this time it is difficult to say when he went to France but he was killed in action there on 11th July 1917.

Charles Buckwell has no known grave and is commemorated on bay two of the Arras Memorial in France. He does not feature in Chailey’s Parish Magazine and is not commemorated on the village war memorial even though he was a native of Chailey and certainly spent his childhood and adolescent years there.

Charles Buckwell’s half-brothers George Weller, John Weller and James Charles Weller all served their King and Country during the First World War.

My thanks to Janet Graves for the photo of Charles Buckwell's name on the Hastings war memorial.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Michael and Richard Deane

I have been contacted by Michael Deane's grandson and as a result, updated his biography with further information. Michael and Richard Deane, the sons of a career soldier, both served during the First World War. Richard was accidentally killed in 1917 but Michael survived and remained in the army until 1947.

The Deane brothers were not from Chailey but their mother Harriet was a Blencowe, the sister of John Ingham Blencowe, Robert Campion Blencowe and Frances Isabel Blencowe, all of whom played significant roles in Chailey during the First World War. Another of Harriet's sisters, Florence C Drummond, would lose a son, Frederick John Drummond, in the first year of the war.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

G/2521 Private Frederick Samuel Cottingham, 8th Royal Sussex Regt

G/2521 Private Frederick Samuel Cottingham was the son of William and Esther Cottingham of South Common, Chailey. He was born at Chailey in 1891 and when the 1901 census was taken, was living at Chailey with his family. The household comprised William Cottingham, head of the household, aged 53 and working as a tile maker, his 46 year old wife Esther Cottingham and their five children: James [Louis] Cottingham, aged 16, a brickyard labourer, William Cottingham, aged 13, a brickyard labourer, his twin brother George Cottingham, aged 13, working as a carter boy on farm, Frederick [Samuel] Cottingham, aged nine, and finally Alfred Cottingham aged six. The 1891 census also shows a daughter, Edith Cottingham aged five in 1891 but I could find no record of her on the census taken ten years later.

Frederick enlisted at Chichester, probably in September 1914, and was posted to the 8th Royal Sussex Regiment. This was a New Army battalion which was formed at Chichester in September 1914 and shortly thereafter moved to Colchester as part of the 54th Brigade in the 18th (Eastern) Division. On the 4th February 1915 the 8th Royal Sussex became a pioneer battalion and in May 1915 transferred to Salisbury Plain.

The Long Long Trail website gives this information on pioneer battalions:

An early solution to the vast demand for labour was to create in each infantry Division a battalion that would be trained and capable of fighting as infantry, but that would normally be engaged on labouring work. They were given the name of Pioneers. They differed from normal infantry in that they would be composed of a mixture of men who were experienced with picks and shovels (i.e. miners, road men, etc) and some who had skilled trades (smiths, carpenters, joiners, bricklayers, masons, tinsmiths, engine drivers and fitters). A Pioneer battalion would also carry a range of technical stores that infantry would not. This type of battalion came into being with an Army Order in December 1914.

At the end of July 1915 the battalion landed at Boulogne. This ties in with Frederick’s medal index card which gives his date of entry into France as 24th July 1915. He features in the October 1914 issue of the Chailey Parish Magazine as serving his King and Country and in October 1915, this information is updated to note his battalion and the fact that he is now in France. The following month, the information was further amended to note “8th Royal Sussex Pioneers.”

Private Cottingham was killed in action on 1st July 1916 aged 25. He was one of 871 Other Rank fatalities sustained by the 18th Division that day but one of only 12 suffered by the 8th Royal Sussex which, as a pioneer battalion, was not involved in the advance across No-Man’s Land. In total, the 18th Division suffered 3,707 casualties but, on the single worst day in history for the British Army, took all of its objectives. Chailey Parish Magazine recorded his death the following month, wrongly noting however that he had been killed on 30th July.

On Friday 14th July, under the headline, CHAILEY – LOCAL CASUALTIES, The East Sussex News reported news of his death: Private F Cottingham of the Royal Sussex Regiment, whose home is at The Brickyard, South Common, has been killed in action in France. Cottingham is the ninth Chailey man who has died for King and Country.

After the war, Frederick Cottingham’s body could not be found and he is commemorated on pier and face 7C of the Thiepval Memorial in France. The Commonwealth War Graves’ Commission’s Debt of Honour Register records the additional information that he was the son of the late Mr and Mrs W Cottingham of The Potteries, South Common, Chailey.

Chailey resident, Reg Philpott remembers that Frederick Cottingham’s son Ron was brought up by his grandmother. All of the Cottingham brothers, (with the exception of George who was medically unfit), served during the First World War. Frederick was the only casualty. The brothers were also distantly related to Thomas Charles Cottingham.

Medal index card courtesy of Ancestry.