Monday, November 27, 2006

Remembering Arthur Turner - KiA 89 years ago today

According to the 1901 census, seven year Arthur Turner was born at Ringmer, Sussex although Soldiers Died In The Great War (SD) notes his place of birth as Little Horsted, Sussex. At the time the census was taken, Arthur was living with his parents Henry (46) and Elizabeth (46) at South Street, Chailey. Henry had been born in Ringmer and was working as a farm labourer. Elizabeth had been born at Fletching.

Arthur enlisted in the Royal Sussex Regiment at Lewes, Sussex and was given the number G/21022. Chailey Parish Magazine first mentions him in June 1917, recording him as Turner, Pte A, 3rd Royal Sussex. These details then appear every month up to and including September 1917. In December 1917 he appears in the magazine’s Roll of Honour as: Pte A Turner, 8th Royal Sussex Pioneers, killed in action, Nov 26th 1917 in France.

SD and The Commonwealth War Graves’ Commission’s Roll of Honour (CWGC) note Arthur’s date of death as 27th November 1917, SD stating that he died of wounds. CWGC notes that at the time of his death he was serving with D Company, 8th Royal Sussex and that he was 24 years old. CWGC also notes that he was the son of Henry and Elizabeth Turner of White Lodge, Roeheath, Chailey, Lewes.

The 8th Royal Sussex Battalion was a New Army battalion formed at Chichester in September 1914. It was a pioneer battalion attached to the 54th Brigade in the 18th Division.
The 18th Divisional history has nothing to say about the actual date on which Arthur Turner was killed but it describes the misery of the division’s position in some detail. November 1917 saw it holding fast at Houthulst Forest north of Ypres, “a flat, low-lying 600 acres of broken stumps and wreckage , a swamp with many a deep and treacherous hole to trap the unwary walker and let him in up to the neck… It was mud that stank: when the rain ceased the nostrils had to accept a faded musty smell that hung in the air five miles behind the line – a smell that told of desolation and decay, of gas shells, of dead men.”

Arthur Turner, commemorated on Chailey’s war memorial, is buried at Dozinghem Military Cemetery, Poperinghe. The inscription on his grave stone reads: THE LORD KNOWETH THEM / THAT ARE HIS.

No comments: