Thursday, August 24, 2006

Another dawn, another death - Albert Padgham

Ninety years ago today, Albert Padgham lost his life. This is his story.

Albert Edward Padgham was born in Fletching, Sussex around 1897 (Soldiers Died gives Chailey as his place of birth). He appears on the 1901 census of England and Wales as a three year old living at Wharf Cottage, Fletching with his family. The family comprised John Padgham (head, aged 40, a native of Fletching working as an agricultural labourer), his wife Mary Padgham (aged 39, a native of Lindfield) and their five children: Louisa Padgham (aged 13), Florence Padgham (aged nine), Alice Padgham (aged five), Albert and William Padgham (aged one). The census return, contrary to the information on Soldiers Died, notes that all of the children had been born in Fletching.

Soldiers Died in The Great War states that he enlisted at Brighton and at the time of his death (as a result of wounds received in action) on 24th August 1916 he was L/10419 Private Albert Edward Padgham of the 2nd Royal Sussex Regiment. The Commonwealth War Graves’ Debt of Honour Register confirms the regimental details, his age (19) and date of death. It also adds that he was the son of John and Mary Padgham of Chailey, Sussex. He is buried in Puchevillers British Cemetery on the Somme, grave reference: III.E.8.

Chailey Parish Magazine first mentions Albert in October 1914, noting that he is serving his King and Country. His army number, with the prefix "L", suggests that he was a regular soldier and he may have enlisted shortly before or around August 1914. In October 1915 the parish magazine notes that he is a private soldier serving with the 3rd Royal Sussex Regiment in England and in May 1916 adds the additional information that he has been wounded. In September 1916 his name was added to the parish magazine’s roll of honour.

The likely sequence of events is that Albert Padgham transferred to the 2nd Royal Sussex Regiment from the reserve 3rd battalion and was then wounded on the Western Front where he subsequently died. It is unclear whether the wounds mentioned in the parish magazine in May 1916 are those from which he ultimately succumbed.

Albert’s brother William Padgham also served his King and Country during the First World War. The undated photograph above shows Albert seated with an unknown pal. My thanks to David Gordon for sharing the two military photos with me. Albert's grave courtesy of Bob Pike.

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