Monday, September 25, 2006

William Beard Remembered

On September 19th 1918, William Beard of Chailey was killed in action. He was almost certainly a Derby Scheme enlistment and had probably not been overseas very long before he was killed. This is his story.

Henry William Beard appears in army records as simply William Beard. He was born around 1879 at Chailey and at the time the 1881 census was taken, was an only child living with his parents at Little Noven, Chailey. His father, Henry Beard, was a 26 year old labourer from Chailey. His mother, Louisa Beard, was a twenty four year old from nearby Fletching. He is recorded as Henry W Beard aged two.

In the 1901 census, Henry W Beard aged 22 is now living at Harmers Cottages, Newick and working as an ordinary agricultural labourer. He is married to 22 year old Nellie Beard of Tunbridge Wells and the couple have a one year old son named George Frederick Weller. The anomaly in the surname could suggest that Nellie Beard was previously Nellie Weller and that George Frederick was born out of wedlock.

Chailey Parish Magazine first mentions Private H W Beard as serving with the Royal Sussex Regiment in June 1917. Prior to enlistment, his grandson notes, he had been working as an agricultural labourer on Bineham Farm, Chailey. He had enlisted at Brighton, was given the number G/21011 and was posted to the 2nd Battalion. Chailey Parish Magazine records that he is serving with the 2nd Royal Sussex in its December 1917 issue and adds in July 1918 that he has been gassed.

Henry William Beard was killed in action on September 19th 1918 and is commemorated on the Vis-en-Artois memorial, France. He was 41 years old at the time of his death and was probably conscripted into the army. The Commonwealth War Graves’ Commission’s Debt of Honour register records that he was the son of Harry Beard and the husband of Nellie Beard of Oakland Cottage, North Chailey.

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