Ninety one years ago today, Fletching born George Trayton Washer gave his life for his King and Country. This is his story.
George Trayton Washer was born about May 1891 in Fletching, Sussex. His birth was registered in the June quarter of that year at Uckfield (volume 2b, page 131).
The 1901 Census reveals George as the only son of George Washer (a 36 year old general labourer) and his wife, Ada Esther Washer (36) living at Oaklands Cottage, North Chailey. As well as nine year old George, the family also comprised his four sisters: Susan Hannah (aged 12), Edith Ada (aged nine), Mary (aged two) and Annie (aged two months). Another sister, Frances, would follow the following year.
Both the 1901 census and Chailey Parish Magazine record George Washer’s first name as Trayton rather than George although the latter appears to be his given name.
George Trayton Washer enlisted in the Corps of Hussars at Lewes, Sussex on 7th September 1914. A Cowman by trade, he was certified as five feet seven inches tall, weighed ten stone, seven pounds, had a fair complexion, blue eyes and fair hair. He was posted to the 5th Cavalry Depot at Bristol and given the number 23402. On 15th January he was given his first typhoid inoculation.
On 2nd June 1915, George Washer transferred from the cavalry to the infantry, joining the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion of the East Surrey Regiment at Dover. On 15th July he was posted to the 7th Battalion and sent overseas to France.
The 7th East Surreys formed part of the 37th Brigade in the 12th (Eastern) Division and had been overseas since 2nd June 1915. George Washer went proceeded first to the 12th Division infantry base, joining his battalion on 19th August.
On 13th October 1915, George Trayton Washer was killed in action at the Battle of Loos. Two companies of the 7th East Surreys had been tasked to capture a German trench known as Gun Trench and, although, as the 12th Divisional history states, “the attack had been entirely successful, 16 prisoners, 1 machine gun, 3 trench mortars and a large quantity of ammunition being captured”, the attacking forces had not come out unscathed. George Washer was one of 212 Other Rank casualties sustained in the action. His body was never recovered and his name was later commemorated on the Loos memorial.
In March 1916, a meeting of The Ancient Order of Foresters in Chailey reported that “… at the end of the year the Court had 20 members serving in the Army or Navy. I regret to state that the court has lost one young member who died fighting for his country – Bro G T Washer, killed in action in France on October 13th 1915…”
On 22nd June 1919, George Trayton Washer’s living relatives were noted as: George Washer (father) of Burnt House, North Common, Chailey; Ada Washer (mother), Susan Hannah Campbell (full blood sister), aged 30 (Burnt House), Mary Smith (full blood sister), aged 20 of Sewells Cottages, Barcombe; Annie Washer (full blood sister), aged 18 of 3 Sussex Road, Hove and Frances Washer (full blood sister), aged 17 of Burnt House.
His cousins Albert and Arthur Washer also served their King and Country during the First World War.