Ninety years ago today, George Turner lost his life on the Somme. On this day in 1918, Robert Jessop was also killed in action further north on the Western Front. Today we remember both these men. Here are their stories:
10749 Private George Turner, 9th Royal Sussex Regiment
George Turner was born at Chailey around 1897. He appears on the 1901 census as a three year old living at McQueen’s Cottage, Chailey with his family. The household comprised Thomas Turner (head, married, aged 41, working as a gardener), his wife Jane Turner (aged 39) and their three children: Harriet Turner (aged 12), Thomas Turner (aged eight) and George (aged three).
Soldiers Died in the Great War (SD) states that George Turner was born at Lewes and enlisted at Brighton. Chailey Parish Magazine first notes him serving his King and Country in July 1915 and by October that year is reporting that he is with the 3rd Royal Sussex. In April 1916 it notes him as serving with the 3rd Royal Sussex in France. This is obviously incorrect as the 3rd Battalion was the reserve battalion based in England.
In August 1916 the magazine notes that George Turner has been wounded and then, the following month, that he died of wounds on 24th August. SD and The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) both confirm that he died of wounds but give his date of death as 23rd August. He was 19 years old. CWGC additionally notes that he was 10749 Private George Turner of the 9th Royal Sussex Regiment who was the son of Mr and Mrs Turner of 19 Stoneham Road, Hove, Sussex; late of Chailey, Sussex.
George Turner is buried in Corbie Communal Cemetery Extension, France: plot 2, row B, grave 92. His brother Thomas Turner also served during the First World War.
46285 Rfm Charles Robert Jessop, 1st Rifle Brigade
Robert Charles Jessop does not feature in Chailey’s parish magazine despite the fact that he was born in the village about 1899. He appears on the 1901 census as a one year old infant living with his parents, siblings and two uncles at Hunts Cottage, Chailey. The household comprised William Jessop (head, married, aged 31, working as an agricultural labourer), his wife Margaret A Jessop (aged 30) and their three children: Esther Margaret (aged seven), Albert William (aged four) and Robert. Also staying at the house were William’s brothers John Jessop (aged 28) and Jospeh Jessop (aged 26). Both men are recorded as being agricultural labourers. Elsewhere in the village, a 22 year old George Jessop was boarding at South Common and working as a bricklayer and it is possible that he was another brother of William’s.
Robert was living at Lindfield at the time of his enlistment and enlisted at Brighton. This must have been after September 1st 1916 because Soldiers Died in the Great War notes that he was first sent to the 18th Training Reserve Battalion at Seaford in Sussex where he was given the number 13/55715. This battalion had its origins as the 15th (Reserve) Battalion of The King’s Royal Rifle Corps before it had been re-designated as the 18th TRB.
Robert Jessop transferred to the Rifle Brigade (where he became 46285 Rifleman Robert Charles Jessop) and was posted to the 1st Battalion (4th Division). He was killed in action on 23rd April 1918. He is commemorated on the Loos Memorial, France and on the Horsted Keynes memorial in Sussex. The Commonwealth War Graves’ Commission’s Debt of Honour Register provides the additional information that he was the son of William and Margaret Alice Jessop of Freshfield Crossways, Horsted Keynes.