On this day, eighty eight years ago, Arthur Snelling and Thomas Chatfield lost their lives. This is their story:
13326 Cpl Arthur Harry Snelling, 13th King's Royal Rifle Corps
Arthur Snelling was born around 1893 in Reigate, Surrey. He appears on the 1901 census as an eight year old boy living with his parents, brothers and sister at South Street, Chailey. In 1901 the family comprised: Arthur E Snelling (head of the family, a butcher, born in Battersea, aged 32), Minnie Snelling, (Arthur’s wife aged 34), William Snelling (son, aged 11), Richard Ernest Snelling (son, aged nine), Arthur (son, aged eight) and May Snelling (daughter, aged 11 months). With the exception of May who was born in Chailey, the three boys had been born in Reigate so it seems reasonable to assume that at some time after Arthur’s birth around 1892 and before May’s birth (probably in May 1900), the family had moved from Reigate to Chailey.
Arthur Snelling is noted in the October 1914 issue of Chailey Parish Magazine as serving his King and Country. In October 1915 he is reported as lance-corporal serving with the ASC in France; subsequently promoted to corporal in November 1915 and sergeant in May 1916.
On December 22nd 1916, The East Sussex News reported that “Sgt A Snelling (ASC) and Pte R Snelling of the Royal Fusiliers, both sons of Mr and Mrs A Snelling of Roeheath Common, are home on leave. Sgt Snelling has been in France since the outbreak of war and his brother for two years.”
It then appears that Arthur Snelling transferred out of the ASC to an infantry battalion because in January 1918, under the NCO section of Chailey Parish Magazine’s roll of serving soldiers, the following appears: Snelling, Rif A, 21st KRR.
It was not to be a lucky move. In November 1918, Chailey Parish Magazine added another name to its roll: Corpl A Snelling, 21st KRR, died of wounds, Aug 25th 1918 in France.
The Commonwealth War Graves’ Commission’s Debt of Honour Register makes no mention of Arthur Snelling’s service with the Army Service Corps and records the battalion with which he died as the 13th KRRC and not the 21st. Arthur’s number is given as 13326. It is possible that Arthur transferred from the 21st KRRC to the 13th although this fact still has to be substantiated.
The 21st King’s Royal Rifle Corps was a New Army battalion also known as The Yeoman Rifles. It was formed in September 1915 from volunteers from the farming communities of Yorkshire, Northumberland and Durham and formed part of the 124th Brigade in the 41st Division.
The 13th King’s Royal Rifle Corps was also a New Army battalion which at first was attached to the 21st Division but subsequently transferred to the 111th Brigade in the 37th Division in April 1915.
Arthur was 25 years old when he died and is buried at Terlincthun British Cemetery in France. His brothers Richard and William who also served during the First World War, both survived.
52513 Pte Thomas Chatfield, 2/5th Lancashire Fusiliers
Thomas Chatfield was the youngest son of Alfred and Mary Chatfield of Newick. He appears on the 1901 census living with them and his brothers and sisters at The Rough in Newick. The household comprised Alfred Chatfield (aged 42, head of the family, born at Fletching and working as a domestic gardener), his wife Mary (aged 42, born in Newick) and their six children: Mabel Chatfield (aged 14, born Fletching), Emily Chatfield (aged 13, born Fletching), Harry Chatfield (aged ten, born Uckfield), Frank Chatfield (aged eight, born Fletching), John (aged four) and Thomas (aged two, born Newick).
There were other children as well. The 1891 census shows the family living at Church Street, Uckfield. Alfred Chatfield (aged eight, born at Fletching) and Alice Mary Chatfield (aged six, born at Fletching) had obviously left the family home by the time the 1901 census was taken. Harry Chatfield is recorded as “infant Chatfield aged under one month”.
Soldiers Died in The Great War and The Commonwealth War Graves’ Commission’s (CWGC) Debt of Honour register note only one regiment that Thomas served with – The 2/5th Lancashire Fusiliers. Chailey Parish Magazine however, first notes him in December 1917 serving with the 25th Training Reserve Battalion and then, the following month, reports that he is with the 3rd Royal Suffolks.
Soldiers Died tells us that he enlisted in Croydon and that his number with the 2/5th Lancashire Fusiliers was 52513. He was killed in action on Sunday 25th August 1918 aged 19 (a fact noted for the first time in the parish magazine in November 1918).
Thomas Chatfield is buried in Houchin British Cemetery in France; grave reference: II.A.23. CWGC additionally reports that he was the son of Alfred and Mary Chatfield of Alverstone House, Chailey, Sussex.
Thomas’ brothers Frank, Harry and John Chatfield also served their King and Country during the First World War. All three survived.