Monday, December 31, 2007

Chailey 1914-1918 - two years old

This time two years ago, with the first fireworks bursting outside my flat in India, I was struggling to publish my Chailey 1914-1918 commemoration site. I'd set myself the goal to get it published in 2005 and I made it with a few hours to spare. Publishing my research on-line was the best thing I ever did. Although I had a lot of information, there were - and still are - huge gaps which I hoped that visitors to my site would help fill. They have and they continue to do so.

So again, thank you to everybody who has helped me over the past 24 months. Just today, as a result of information receive from a distant relative, I have been able to update the page for Frederick Sweetman, a Wivelsfield man who joined the Royal Sussex Regiment Special Reserve in September 1914, served overseas twice and was then discharged on a pension of ten shillings a week in 1916. Frederick was a widower when war was declared yet, with two young daughters to support, that didn't stop him from volunteering to serve his King and Country.

Tonight I shall raise a glass to the men and women of Chailey and indeed to all our country's servicemen and women (past and present) whose sacrifices allow us to enjoy the freedoms we so happily take for granted.

Happy New Year to you all.

Frederick Ernest Sweetman

I've updated the page for Frederick Ernest Sweetman thanks to additional information contained in his surviving service record (and a prompt from a distant relative). Frederick's service record indicates that he was a regular soldier and I think it likely that he was also a Boer War veteran, although if he was, the papers aren't with his WW1 papers in the WO 364 series. Frederick was also the brother-in-law of George Kenward, another Chailey man who served his King and Country.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Ernest Arthur Malins

I've added a photograph of Ernest Arthur Malins (standing left), along with his brother Sidney Howard Williams Malins. Both men wear the cap badge of the Royal West Kent Regiment. The photograph was taken in England with the men's parents.

Ernest was a patient at Hickwells in Chailey and would later be killed on the Somme in July 1916. Sidney would survive the war, attaining the rank of warrant officer class 2 with the Northumberland Fusiliers.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Ivan Duffield corrected

Thanks to Eleanor Manvell, I've corrected Ivan Duffield's record. I had recorded this man as having been born in Slinfold, Sussex when in fact the man recorded in Reverend Jellicoe's monthly parish returns had been born at Ringmer.

Thomas Jesse Woodhams

I knew from a previous contact that Thomas Woodhams emigrated to the US some time before 1915. Now, thanks to Dennis Savage in Australia, I've been able to pinpoint that date (as well as the name of the ship on which he sailed) and I've consequently updated Thomas's page with this information. He served with the RFA during the First World War.

259027 Pte Roland Gilbert, Labour Corps

The undated photo above, sent to me by Mike Gilbert, features his grandfather Roland Gilbert (seated third from left) when he was serving in the Royal Sussex Regiment. The reverse of the card, sent to his three children, simply reads, love to you all, Daddy.

In March 1915, Chailey Parish Magazine had noted that Roland Gilbert was serving his King and Country.  In October 1915 it reported, Gilbert, Private R, 10th Royal Sussex, France. 

Ten months later in August 1916 the parish magazine noted that Private Gilbert has been wounded and was in England.  His final entry in the parish magazine appears in September 1917 which simply states, Gilbert, Private R, 10th Royal Sussex.  Wounded.

It seems likely that Roland Gilbert was 4469 Private Roland Gilbert.  His medal index card has two numbers and two regiments for him, the second being 259027, a Labour Corps number.  It would seem to fit the information contained in the parish magazine that Private Gilbert was wounded with the 10th Royal Sussex Regiment, returned to England to recuperate and then transferred to the Labour Corps.

Roland Gilbert was born in Burwash, Sussex in 1880, his birth registered in the Ticehurst district in March of that year.  He was the son of William and Ann Gilbert and appears on the 1881 census for Burwash as a one year old infant.  The family was living at Toll Gate Cottage and comprised William Gilbert (aged 23), an agricultural Labourer, his wife Ann (aged 27), Roland and the couple's one month old daughter (un-named on the census return).  All four family members are noted as having been born in Burwash.  They also shared the house with another family: Harry Kemp (aged 71) and his two daughters: Sarah Kemp (aged 40) and Hannah Kemp (aged 38 and bed-ridden).

I have been unable to locate the family on the census returns for 1891 and 1901 but thanks to Roland's grandson, Mike Gilbert, who contacted me as a result of finding this website,  Iam able to fill in further details post 1901.

In 1902 Roland married Mabel Day, their marriage registered in the Brighton district in the December quarter of that year.  Four children followed quickly: Percy Gilbert (born in 1903), Dorothy Gilbert (born in 1904), Ella Gilbert (born in 1905) and Kathleen Gilbert (born in 1907).  The family lived in Lower Station Road, Chailey, next door to Mabel's parents William and Emma who let rooms and had a small market garden.  Mike Gilbert thinks that the properties were called The Pines and Fernside (one of these now re-named Wray Lodge).  This ties in with Kelly's Directory for 1915 which notes William as being the owner of Pines Apartments.  Logic suggests therefore that Roland and his family lived at Fernside.

In 1909, Mabel Gilbert died at the young age of 30 and her sister became a surrogate mother to the four young Gilbert children. 
It is clear from the entry in Chailey Parish Magazine that, despite being the breadwinner for four children, Roland Gilbert voluntarily enlisted in the army.  He would have been 35 years old by then.  Mike Gilbert remembers his father saying that he had to leave school in 1915 to help in the market garden as his father had joined the army. Fortunately, as mentioned above, Roland survived the war and came home to Chailey to continue bringing up his family.

My thanks to Mike Gilbert for the wonderful photos of his grandfather, father and aunts.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Much to add

Although I've not updated this page for a while, there is a lot to add to the site, both as a result of contact from relatives and also thanks to service records A-C (the burnt documents) now available on-line.

The reason for not updating the site is as a result of work commitments, other WW1 projects, family matters and my site hosts experiencing a security threat which has led to them changing all the passwords. Once I fathom out how to re-instate everything, normal service will be resumed.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Cottingham and Kenward

As a result of information received from relatives I've updated the pages for the Cottingham brothers - Alfred Cottingham, Frederick Cottingham, George Cottingham, James Cottingham and William Cottingham - and also the page for John Walter Kenward.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Chailey National School 1899

The photo above shows pupils from Chailey National School and was taken in 1899.

The only child I've identified so far is five year old Frederick Bray who sits far right. I feel convinced though, that many of his classmates would also have gone on to serve their King and Country. For the time being though, they remain frozen in anonymity and the innocence that was society before the First World War.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Alfred Jenner & Douglas Uridge

I have updated the biographies for two more Chailey men: Alfred Jenner and Douglas Uridge. Both would have had interesting stories to tell.

Alfred joined the army as a regular soldier in 1915 and sustained a gunshot wound in 1917. It was a huge carbuncle on his shoulder however, which was to prove most troublesome to him and which would eventually lead to a sizeable army gratuity. Alfred's service record speaks volumes for the insanitary conditions in which men lived in the trenches. Besides his carbuncle, he was also hospitalised at various times as a result of conjunctivitis, trench fever and myalgia.

Douglas Uridge first joined the army on 1st August 1914. He was in Canada at the time but never sailed with his regiment. A kick in the head from a horse caused him to be discharged from the army. Undeterred, he sailed for England and finally succeeded in re-enlisting, this time with the Army Service Corps. Even so, he was discharged in 1917, a Medical Board noting that he was, "thin, weak. Slightly anaemic, narrow chest and poor physique generally."

Saturday, October 06, 2007

769654 Pte Horace Raymond Martin, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry

Chailey Parish Magazine notes in September 1916 that H Martin is serving with the Grenadier Guards in England.  In December 1916 it notes that he is serving with the 13th Grenadier Guards and this information is then repeated up to and including December 1917.  After this, there are no further references to this man.

According to his attestation papers, Horace was born in Newick on 2nd June 1897.  I think that this is a soldier's "white lie" however and that he was really born in the second half of 1898, his birth registered at Lewes district in the September quarter of that year.  He appears on the 1901 census living at Church Road with his parents and seven siblings.  The household comprised, William John Martin (head, aged 47; a self employed builder), his wife Adela Martin (aged 42) and their eight children.  In age order they are: William Henry Martin (an 18 year old carpenter), Florence Kate Martin (aged 15), Mabel Grace Martin (aged 13), Edith Cicely Martin (aged 11), Alfred Geoffrey Martin (aged ten), John Sidney Martin (aged five), Daisy Evaline Martin (aged four) and Horace (aged two).

There was of course, no “13th Grenadier Guards” but with the wisdom of hindsight and due acknowledgement to Horace’s headmaster at Newick, John Oldaker, it is possible to see how this error arose.

Horace’s brother John served with the 10th Royal Grenadiers, CEF and it appears that the Reverend Jellicoe got this information slightly wrong and then attributed the incorrect regiment to Horace.  In all likelihood both the boys were in Canada when war was declared because both joined Canadian units. 

Horace, who would only have been about 16 when war was declared, enlisted at Toronto on the 4th January 1916 (still under age) and was posted to the 124th Battalion of the CEF.  He was given the number 269654. His attestation papers note that he was born in Newick, Sussex and give his address as 26 McRoberts Avenue, Toronto, Canada. His next of kin is noted as his mother, Adela Martin, also of the same address.  Horace's trade is given as machinist. He was five feet six and a half inches tall, had a fair complexion, blue eyes and black hair.  A scar on his right ankle is also noted.

On 1st January 1917 Horace transferred to Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI)  having already been in France with the 124th Bn CEF since 4th December 1916.  A note in the PPCLI roll of honour records that he was struck off strength on 7th February 1919.

The photograph that appears on this page, plus details of Horace’s enlistment are from John Oldaker’s collection of serving ex pupils from Newick School.  My thanks to Simon Stevens for this information.

Also see this post. Is it the same Horace Martin?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Midshipman Anthony Martin Kimmins, HMS Marlborough

Anthony Martin Kimmins was born on 11th October 1901, his birth registered at Hendon, north London in March the following year.  His mother, Grace Kimmins, (later Dame Grace Kimmins), co-founded Chailey Heritage Hospital (previously the Chailey Union Workhouse) with Alice Rennie the following year.  The following information is taken from East Sussex County Council’s page on Chailey Heritage Hospital:

“It is world-famous for its ground-breaking approach to orthopaedics. Originally it offered hospital treatment, education and training in craftwork to children with severe physical disabilities. Much of the philosophy of care derived from Grace Kimmins' husband, Dr C W Kimmins, who was an educational psychologist for the London County Council. Chailey Heritage was initially a private institution and relied heavily on donations for its survival. Grace Kimmins tirelessly and inventively raised funds for the hospital. She was well-connected and used her contacts to secure the patronage and support of royalty, the aristocracy, affluent businessmen and the press.”

Anthony Kimmins spent two years at Osborne and two terms at Dartmouth before first going to sea in HMS Marlborough.  He first appears in Chailey’s parish magazine as Cadet Captain A Kimmins, Royal Navy, in October 1916.  By April 1917 he is listed as A M Kimmins and by December that year is recorded as Midshipman A M Kimmins, HMS Marlborough.  This information is then repeated monthly up to and including the final published roll call in July 1919.
Anthony Kimmins joined the Fleet Air Arm in the inter-war years until retirement from the Royal Navy.  Immediately after, he entered the film world, starring first as an actor (his debut was in 1933 in The Golden Cage) and latterly as a director (from 1937).  He rejoined the Royal Navy during the Second World War, serving first as a naval broadcaster and latterly becoming a captain on the staff of the Director of Naval Intelligence.  After the war he went back to producing and directing films.  He wrote his autobiography – Half Time – in 1948 and died in 1964.

Anthony’s older brother Brian also served his King and Country during the First World War.

On a separate note, on this day 89 years ago, my grandfather's brother, John Frederick Nixon, was killed in action whilst attached to the 8th London Regiment (The Post Office Rifles). Jack has no known grave and is commemorated on the Vis-en-Artois memorial in France. May he rest in peace.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

John BASIL Lee Jellicoe, RNVR

John Basil Lee Jellicoe was the eldest son of the Reverend Thomas Harry Lee Jellicoe of St Peter’s Church, Chailey and Bethia Theodora Jellicoe (nee Boyd).  His uncle, Arthur Hamilton Boyde OBE MC TD, who was also a clergyman in civil life, would have a distinguished career in the army during the First World War.

Basil Jellicoe was born on 5th February 1899.  He first gets a mention in Chailey Parish Magazine’s roll of honour in March 1917 where he is noted as Jellicoe, J B L, Univ OTC, Oxford.  By December 1917 he is noted as serving with the RNVR and in March 1918 is noted as assistant paymaster with the RNVR.  This information is then repeated monthly up to and including the final published roll call in July 1919. 

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004) has this to say about Basil Jellicoe: 
Jellicoe, (John) Basil Lee (1899-1935), housing reformer and Church of England clergyman, was born on 5 February 1899 at Chailey, Sussex, the elder son of Thomas Harry Lee Jellicoe, rector of Chailey, and his wife, Bethia Theodora, youngest daughter of Sir John Boyd, of Maxpoffle, Roxburgh, lord provost of Edinburgh from 1888 to 1891. His father was a cousin of J. R. Jellicoe, first Earl Jellicoe.

A few months before the end of the First World War he left Oxford to join the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and served for a short time in the Mediterranean.
In later life, he worked in Somers Town, north London, and campaigned tirelessly for better housing. He died prematurely, at the age of 36 in 1935 and is buried in St Peter's churchyard, Chailey. See photos of his grave here.
Basil's younger brother Christopher Theodore Jellicoe is also noted in Chailey’s Parish Magazine as serving his King and Country.

Monday, October 01, 2007

GSSR/649 Pte Obediah Wood, Royal Sussex Regt

Obediah Wood is another of Chailey’s men who does not feature in Reverend Jellicoe’s monthly roll call of serving parishioners. His attestation papers though, which survive at The National Archives, state that he was born in Chailey and that at the time of his enlistment at Hurstpierpoint on 21st September 1914, he was 40 years old. He also had previous military experience having served with Kent Royal Garrison Artillery for six years and Sussex RGA for one year and 31 days before being discharged at his own request.

He was five feet, five and a half inches tall and was passed fit for one year’s service with the Royal Garrison Artillery Special Reserve on 24th September 1914. Four days later however he was transferred to the 9th Royal Sussex Regiment at Shoreham and given the number GSSR/649; a number which really belonged with the Royal Sussex Regiment Special Reserve rather than a New Army battalion. He remained with the 9th Battalion until the 16th August 1915 when he was posted to the 10th Royal Sussex Regiment.

He arrived in France on 4th October 1915 and five days later was posted back to the 9th Battalion, remaining with this battalion on the Western Front until 5th August 1916. He then sailed for England and was posted, on arrival the following day, to the Royal Sussex Regiment Depot on 6th August 1916. Sixty three days later, on 7th October 1916, he was discharged from the British Army.

During his initial period in England, Obediah (who appears as Obed on all but one of his military documents), attended a Brigade Transport Training class at Colchester on 5th September 1915.

Obed was discharged from the army as a result of epilepsy, a condition he’d suffered from since he was 12 or 13. A Medical Board, convened on 23rd September 1916, noted that he used to fall down unconscious and that for the last three years he had had difficulty swallowing, although he had taken normal food in hospital without difficulty. The Board noted that his epilepsy had been aggravated by military service and awarded him a conditional pension of 20 shillings a week for the next six months. Subsequent Boards over the next two years increased his award which seems to have run until 31st December 1918.

On his papers, Obed Wood’s next of kin is given as Thomas Marriott of Small Dole (in what is now West Sussex), and his home address given in September 1916 given as New Hall, Small Dole, Sussex.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

238372 Gunner Frank William King, RFA

Frank William King was the eldest child of William and Mary King (nee Howell) and was born at Balneath Cottages, Chailey on 28th August 1898.  William became farm bailiff at Yokehurst, and at Michaelmas 1905 took over Pouchlands Farm, where Frank's younger brother Ernest was born and brought up.  The two boys both went to Chailey School and did a milk round with the horse and cart before and after school, delivering Pouchlands milk, cream and butter.

In 1916, Frank was 18 and had already joined Lord Derby's Volunteers.  The photograph reproduced on this page was taken in 1916 and shows Frank wearing a Derby Scheme armlet - an essential addition to a volunteer's wardrobe at a time when white feathers were still liberally handed out to men out of uniform.

Frank went to France with the Royal Field Artillery and survived uninjured, although no records have yet been discovered.  Chailey Parish Magazine first mentions him in June 1917 referring to him simply as King, Gunner F W, RFA and this information is then repeated monthly up to and including the final published roll in July 1919. 

The National Archives gives one possibility for Gunner Frank W King in the Royal Field Artillery (although three drivers of that name are listed), and that is 238372 Gunner Frank W King.
William King died in 1921 and Frank helped his mother run the farm for nearly ten years until he died in a tragic accident in May 1931. He was buried near his father in East Chiltington churchyard.
My thanks to Tim Bishop for contacting me and sending me the splendid photo of Frank.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Charles Bristow and Christopher Short

Thanks to information recently received, I've been able to update the pages for Charles Bristow and Christopher Nathan Short. Charles, who was born in Chailey but emigrated to Australia before the start of the First World War, served with the AIF and was killed in action in September 1917. I have previously written about him on this blog.

Charles's sister Elizabeth would later go on to marry Christopher Short who served with the Royal Navy. The information I have on him is still very scant. Charles was also related to two other Bristow men: Erle Bristow and another Charles Bristow. The name was obviously an unlucky one for he too was also killed in action in September 1917. Both men are remembered on Chailey's parish war memorial.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Alven Brown - six enlistments

Alven Henry Jesse Brown was born in Chailey about October 1869. He did not originally feature on this website for the simple fact that his name was not recorded in the Reverend Jellicoe’s monthly roll call of serving men. Thankfully though, Alven’s extensive service record (comprising over 40 separate pages) exists in the WO 364 pension series at the National Archives and I therefore summarise his military service below.

He attested with the East Kent Regiment (The Buffs) at Canterbury, Kent on 25th January 1887, enlisting for a period of seven years with the Colours and five on the Reserve. He gave his place of birth as Chailey, his age as eighteen years and three months and his trade as labourer. In answer to the question, “Have you resided out of your father’s house for three years continuously in the same place…” he answered, “Yes, Cheltenham” and also indicated that he was currently serving with the 4th East Kent Regiment, a militia outfit.

Alven was short – five feet four and a quarter inches – weighed 122lbs, had a fresh complexion, grey eyes and light brown hair. Two moles on his right forearm and let shoulder blade are noted as distinctive marks. His next of kin is noted as his father, Joseph Brown; brother, James Brown and sister Mary Brown, all living in Chailey. Alven was posted to the 2nd Battalion of the East Kent Regiment and given the service number 2207. Two years later he was granted his first Good Conduct Badge. He carried out all of his soldiering in the UK and was discharged on 24th January 1899.

During this time he also married Florence Annie Head at Bromley on 10th October 1891. He enlisted for a second time, in the Royal Southern Reserve Regiment (number 1966) on 27th March 1900, this time giving his trade as gardener. His term of service was one year at home and he was consequently discharged on 26th March 1900. On 26th August 1901 he enlisted for a third time, this time with the Royal Garrison Regiment (number 3362) for a period of two years (which he extended for four years in June 1903). He remained in the UK for two weeks and was then posted to Malta where he served from 20th September 1901 until 20th April 1904. He then sailed for South Africa, serving there between 21st April 1904 and 2nd October 1905. On his Royal Garrison Regiment papers, his next of kin is recorded as his wife, Florence Brown of 49 Albert Road, Penge, London SE, his sons Edward, Walter and George and his daughters Annie and Edith, all living at home with their mother. He was discharged from The Royal Garrison Regiment on 16th October 1905 and immediately re-enlisted as a regular with The Buffs the following day. He enlisted for a period of three years with the Colours and nine on the Reserve and was given his fourth army service number: 8179. His wife’s home address is noted on these papers as 7 Pembroke Road, Widmore, Bromley, Kent.

Alven was discharged on 18th July 1909 aged 40 years and nine months and elected to receive a War Office pension of eight pence per day for life.

When the First World War was declared, Alven Brown enlisted for a fifth time, joining The Buffs’ Special Reserve (number S/667) on 30th September 1914. He was now 44 years old and enlisted for a period of one year “unless War lasts longer than one year, in which case you will be retained until War is over.” Alven remained with The Buffs until 30th June 1917 when he transferred to The Labour Corps, finally being discharged on 28th March 1919. Children noted on his First World War service papers are Herbert Arthur Brown (born 3rd April 1907), John Brown (born 10th December 1908) and Horace Brown (born 7th October 1911). His wife’s address is now noted as 1 Buffs Cottage, Rumfields, Ramsgate, Kent.

Not content that he had done with soldiering, Alven Brown enlisted for a sixth and final time with The 47th Battalion of The Royal Fusiliers on 23rd June 1919. His new number was G/132630 and his period of service was to last until 30th April 1920. In actual fact he was demobbed twelve days after this but with so much service under his belt, it hardly mattered and one gets the feeling, reading through his papers that he would have been quite happy to continue in the army indefinitely. Alven Brown died in Ramsgate of heart disease on 11th December 1944 aged 75. His son George registered his death.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Frederick Neale - thoroughly trustworthy

The Sergeant F Neal noted by Chailey Parish magazine between October 1916 and December 1917 is Sergeant Frederick Neale, a regular soldier who first joined the army in 1901 and served continuously for the next twenty one years. His record is remarkable both from the point of view that all his soldiering was conducted in Britain and also that during that time he incurred no entries on his regimental conduct sheet. On his discharge from the army in 1922, his character testimonial would state:

“This is to certify that the above named soldier is thoroughly trustworthy and very hardworking. He has exercised a good influence in the Battalion. He has been employed as Sergeant Master Tailor and he has carried out his work most efficiently. He gained a 2nd Class Certificate of Education on 30th July 1912. Previous to enlistment he was a Tailor by profession.”

Frederick Neale enlisted with the Army Service Corps at Eastbourne on 21st August 1901 for a period of three years with the Colours and nine on the Reserve. He was 19 years and eleven months old and gave his place of birth as Fletching, Sussex. At the time of his enlistment he was a serving member with the 1st Cinque Ports Rifle Volunteers (a unit which would later become the 5th Cinque Ports Territorial Force Battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment). Frederick had previously tried to enlist in the regular army (date unknown) but had been rejected because he was underweight. Now though, he was passed fit. He was five feet five inches tall, weighed 115lbs, had a fair complexion and light brown eyes and hair. He was given the service number T/18417.

He received his first Good Conduct Pay at the rate of one shilling per day on 21st August 1903 and on 25th July 1904, extended his service to complete eight years with the colours. He was also granted Service Pay Class One at the rate of sixpence per day from that date. On 21st August 1906 he was granted his second good conduct badge and his service pay was increased to seven pence per day. Eight months later, on 24th April 1907, Frederick again extended his service to complete 12 years with the Colours. On 2nd January 1913, having served eleven years and five months with the Army Service Corps as a private, Frederick transferred to the 1st Royal Warwickshire Regiment where he was given the number 2259. Eight days later he was appointed Sergeant Tailor. On 13th August 1913, Frederick again extended his service, this time to complete 21 years in His Majesty’s Army.

Shortly after the First World War was declared, Frederick was posted to the regimental depot where he remained for almost the entire war. He spent one month with the 3rd Battalion in 1918 but towards the end of June that year was posted back to the depot. Only after the war had ended was he posted back to the regular battalions: to the 2nd on 11th April 1919; the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion on 3rd June 1919 and then finally the 1st Battalion on 15th July 1919. He was finally discharged from the army on 20th August 1922.

Although he received no campaign medals, Frederick Neale was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal in March 1920 and also received a £5 gratuity along with this. During his time soldiering, Frederick had found time for some personal life. His next of kin was initially recorded as his father, James Neale, of Fletching; but on 2nd March 1910 he had married Mable Murphy at the parish church in Fletching. The couple had three children – Mabel Esther Neale (born in July 1912 at Portsmouth), Kathleen Neale (born May 1914 at Shorncliffe) and a third child (name unclear on Frederick’s surviving papers) who was born in February 1916 at Lewes. Sadly, Kathleen died in infancy in April 1915).

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Frank Oliver - six days a soldier

Frank Oliver’s First World War service lasted precisely six days.  This may explain why the Reverend Jellicoe omitted to mention him in his monthly roll call of serving men.  Nevertheless, he volunteered to serve his King and Country and so is remembered here. 

Frank enlisted in London with a labour battalion of the Royal Engineers.  It was 17th September 1915 and he was 41 years old.  His surviving service record comprising two scans of his attestation papers note that he was 41 years old and previously served seven years with the 3rd Royal Sussex Regiment.  His home address is noted as Chailey and his occupation as navvy.  At the top of the facing page, somebody has scribbled, “Pioneer pay 3/ per day”. 

Frank was a single man when he enlisted.  His next of kin is noted as Mrs Mercy Oliver (sister) of Brickyard Cottages, Hamsey nr Lewes.  
That’s really all that there is to tell from the surviving information at the National Archives.  Frank was discharged on 22nd October 1915 as “not likely to become an efficient soldier”.   

I think it possible that Frank Oliver was the uncle of Private John Oliver who was killed in action at Loos three days after Frank was discharged from the Royal Engineers.  The 1881 census notes a five year old Frank Oliver and six brothers (one of these, Henry J Oliver), living at the home of William and Elizabeth Barnett at 6 Hicks Cottages, Chailey.  All seven boys are noted as son-in-laws of William Barnett, yet all are also noted as unmarried.  To add to the Oliver conundrum, Henry John would not marry Mercy Mitchell until 1885. 
Nevertheless, I believe that the Mercy Oliver mentioned on Frank Oliver’s attestation paper is possibly his sister-in-law rather than sister but I would be happy to have this either proved or disproved.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Albert Malthouse & Edward Manville

Thanks to the availability of pension records on-line, I've been able to update the pages for Albert Malthouse and Edward Manville.

Albert was an old soldier who'd first enlisted with the Royal Sussex Regiment in 1885 and was 48 years old when he enlisted for a further period with the National Reserve during the First World War. Edward was conscripted into the army in 1916 but was clearly unfit, heart trouble causing him to be discharged from the army in 1916.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

George & Harry Cottingham

I have updated the profile for George Cottingham and added an additional page for Harry Cottingham whom I had previously inadvertently omitted from the Chailey website. Both men's service records survive at The National Archives in Kew. Harry's record is interesting in that he served nineteen years with the Royal Artillery and then Royal Field Artillery and despite having seen service during both the Boer War (one year) and First World War (five years) he received no medals having done all of his soldiering in England.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Horace Coley - try, try again

Horace Henry Coley is another of Chailey’s men who does not appear on Reverend Jellicoe’s monthly roll call of men connected to the parish. The omission is understandable as Horace appears to have left Chailey parish some while before the start of the First World War and was settled in Walsall, near Birmingham, when he enlisted.

He was born in Chailey around September 1872 and appears on the 1881 census living with his family in Chailey village. The household comprised 46 year old John Coley, a market gardener born in Newick, his wife Hannah aged 44 (born in Hove) and five children: Margaret Coley (aged 20), Frederick Coley (aged 13), Emily Coley (aged 10), Horace (aged seven) and Edith Coley (aged four). All of the children had been born in Chailey; Margaret is also noted on the census as being deaf.

By the time the 1891 census was taken, the family had moved to the village of Barnham in the district of Westhampnett in Sussex. The address is noted as Fruit Farms and as before, John is noted as a market gardener although also noted as “neither employer nor employed”. Mary is recorded as domestic servant (although her deafness is not recorded) while Frederick and Horace are both noted as market gardeners. Emily is recorded as a laundress and Edith, a 14 year old scholar. There is also another sibling: Ernest F Coley, aged nine, also born in Chailey.

Ten years further on and the household has shrunk dramatically. The 1901 census sees the family living at Lingfield in Surrey. Hannah is now a widow and with her are Horace, noted as a married, 27 year old soldier, and Edith, a domestic servant. Horace’s profession reads “Part H W Service (Soldier)” and I am at a loss to make sense of the initials. I am guessing that the W could stand for War as the Boer War would have been current at the time. Nevertheless, he was certainly newly married and in uniform. He had married Alice Elizabeth Hall on 26th December 1900 at Lingfield although she does not appear on the same census return as her husband.

By the time the First World War started, Horace was 42 years old. Nevertheless, on 1st September 1914 he enlisted with the Black Watch at Walsall. His attestation papers state that he was a time expired soldier with the Black Watch; also that he was a miner by trade and that he was five feet nine and a half inches tall, weighed 154 lbs, had a fresh complexion, grey eyes and light brown hair. His next of kin is given as Alice Elizabeth Coley (wife) of 4 Brownhills Road, Walsall Wood, Staffordshire.

Horace was posted to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion on 2nd September and given the number 3432. His service though, was short-lived. On 24th October 1914 he was discharged “in consequence of having been found not likely to become an efficient soldier.” Although physically fit, Horace had an eye condition – nystagmus – which was the reason for his rejection. Undeterred, he tried again. On March 17th 1915 he travelled to Lichfield and enlisted with the North Staffordshire Regiment. This set of attestation papers gives a little more detail. It notes that he has previously served 16 years with the Black Watch and that his home address is King Street, Walsall Wood. A daughter is also recorded on his papers: Florence Georgia Wood born on 13th June 1902 in Atherstone, Warwickshire. Horace was quite heavily tattooed; something the authorities had neglected to record on his 1914 papers. The details though, are all there on the March 1915 papers: “two dancing girls on breast, both arms covered and a woman’s head underneath back knee.” Horace was posted to the regimental depot and given the number 17156. Again though, his service would be short-lived and he was discharged on 23rd June the same year. This time the medical notes report, “a very large enlargement of thyroid gland causing [unclear] and consequent inability to march.”

It’s a shame that Horace’s service record during his 16 years with the Black Watch does not appear to have survived. The fact that 16 years’ service is indicated in 1915 and also that he was vaccinated in 1898, suggests that he enlisted in this year. He was obviously a committed soldier and it must have been a very great disappointment to him that he was unable to serve his country again during the First World War. It certainly wasn’t for the want of trying.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Charles Moon - nineteen years in the army

Charles Patrick Moon does not appear in Reverend Jellicoe’s roll call of serving Chailey parishioners but he was born in Chailey in 1875 and so is included on this blog. Although the family had moved away from the parish by the time the 1881 census was taken, the Moon family was well established in Chailey, Charles’s grandfather Simeon having been the village blacksmith during the mid 1800s. The 1881 census return though, notes Charles living at Farnborough, Hampshire. The household comprised Chailey born Thomas Moon, head, married, a 42 year old army pensioner; his wife Mary, aged 28, born in Ireland, and their four children: Thomas (aged nine, born in Cork), Charles (aged seven, born in Chailey), Harriet (aged four, born in Plymouth) and Elizabeth (aged one, born in Guildford, Surrey).

By the time the 1891 census was taken, Charles was a seventeen year old at Gordon Boys’ Home in Chobham, Surrey. The home, built in 1885 as a memorial to Major-General Charles Gordon, maintained 240 boys who were trained for civil, naval or military life; according to their preference. Charles’s brother Thomas was living in Chailey at this time. He appears on the census as the 18 year old nephew of James and Esther Smith. The boys’ parents and siblings were still living in Farnborough. The household, located at Smith’s Cottage, York Road, now comprised Thomas and Mary (Thomas is recorded as “pensioner and fish dealer” and Mary as “fish hawker”) and five children: Harriet Agnes Moon (aged 14), Elizabeth E Moon (aged eleven), James Moon (aged eight), Caroline Annie Moon (aged six) and Simeon Moon (aged 20 months). The last three children had all been born in Farnborough.

It would seem likely that Charles’s spent his time at Gordon Boys’ Home preparing for a life in the army, as on 17th December 1898 he enlisted in the Oxfordshire Light Infantry in London for a period of seven years with the Colours and five years on the Reserve. His stated aged was 23 years and three months and he gave his trade as labourer. He was already a serving member of the 3rd Hampshire Regiment, a militia outfit, at the time of his enlistment in the regular army, and was five feet three inches tall and weighed 122 lbs. He had a medium complexion, brown eyes and dark brown hair. Distinctive marks are noted as tattoos of anchor and flags on his left forearm and a bugle and “A” on his right forearm. He joined his regiment at Oxford on 20th December 1898 and was given the service number 5985.

On 8th April 1899 he was posted to the 1st Battalion and the following year, on 7th December, posted to the 2nd Battalion. He was posted back to the 1st Battalion on 15th October 1903 and on 1st April 1904 extended his service to complete eight years with the Colours. He was granted his first Good Conduct Badge on 26th December 1904 and the following September extended his service again to complete 12 years with the Colours. Having been posted back to the 2nd Battalion and then again to the 1st, he received his second Good Conduct Badge on 26th December 1906.

During his time in the army, Charles Moon was extremely well travelled. He was in England from the time of his enlistment in December 1898 until 22nd December 1899 when he sailed for South Africa and the Boer War. He remained there until 30th May 1900 when he returned home, staying in England until December that year. He then set sail for India where he remained for nearly four years, returning home to England in November 1904. In October 1905 he sailed for India again, spending a further 38 months in that country. He then travelled over the border to Burma, arriving there on 6th December 1908 and remaining there until 25th September 1910. Then it was back to India for a further four months before he returned to England at the end of January 1911. For his service during the Boer War he was awarded the Queen’s South Africa Medal with clasps for the Relief of Kimberley and Dreifontein.

On 20th February 1911, Charles was placed on the Army Reserve but was recalled to the colours when Britain declared war on Germany in 1914. He was certainly in France during the first year of the war but was returned to England on 16th December 1914 with dental caries. (His medical record notes that he’d already been supplied with artificial dentures at Government expense when he was in Burma). Although his service record is not clear on when he transferred to the 1st Garrison Battalion of The Royal Warwickshire Regiment, he was certainly discharged from this unit as a time-expired soldier (number 13939) on 19th February 1916. In the intervening months he had been abroad again, this time to Egypt, where he had arrived on 20th August 1915.

Charles’s next of kin was originally noted as his mother, Mary Moon, of 4 York Road, Farnborough, Hampshire but on 6th January 1912 (by now on the Army Reserve), he married Ann Udey (spinster) at the Wesleyan Chapel in Farnborough. Three children are also noted: Mary Kathleen, born 3rd October 1912 in Farnborough and Elizabeth Agnes Caroline Ann, born 25th April 1915, also in Farnborough. Sadly, his second daughter died on 23rd October 1915. A son, Charles, was born on 8th November 1916.

In March 1915, Charles’s address is noted as 12 Government Buildings, Camp Road, Farnborough, Hants. Nevertheless, he re-enlisted at Oxford on 5th August 1916. He served overseas with the BEF from 21st October 1916 until 12th October 1917 and then returned home to England until his discharge on 22nd May 1918. Army Form B.179 (Medical Report on an Invalid), dated 1st May 1918 notes that Charles was suffering from chronic bronchitis which originated at Rouen, France in October 1917. It reads, “He states he was quite well until he had an attack of bronchitis for which he was admitted to No 6 General Hospital, Rouen. From there he was sent home to hospital in England – in hospital six weeks, discharged 24.11.17 since then has done very little duty and has had a cough and been shortwinded.” The report notes that his bronchitis was attributable to service due to exposure to wet and continues, “Prematurely aged man. Some ankio-sclerosis. Has scattered coarse rhonchi both sides. Chest altered by coughing… cough loose and rattling.” The following page notes, “chronic emphysema” and concludes by assessing him at 30 per cent disability.

At the time of his discharge, Charles was serving as WR40707 Pioneer Charles Moon with a Roads and Quarries company of The Royal Engineers. He was 42 years old and was certainly awarded a pension until May 1920. He received a further allowance of 11/8, reduced to 3/6, for each of his children. Charles Moon’s discharge papers note that his military character was very good and that his character awarded in accordance with King’s Regulations was “very satisfactory”. In total, he had served eighteen years and eleven months in the British Army.

Medal index cards courtesy of Ancestry.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Charles Craddock - twenty one years a soldier

Charles Craddock's service record survives at the National Archives; so does that of his brother Walter. Both men were regular soldiers who enlisted in the army long before the First World War was declared.

I see that my web hosts are closed for the weekend for essential maintenance. Therefore, as a stop-gap measure until I am able to update his page entry on the site, I am pasting his service history here:

Charles Stephen Craddock, first noted by Chailey Parish Magazine in October 1914 as serving his King and Country, was born in Lewes, Sussex in 1879; his birth registered in the September quarter of that year. He appears on the 1881 census of England and Wales as a one year old infant living at North Place, Lewes, Sussex. Also noted at the household are Elizabeth Craddock (head of the household, married, aged 23 and noted as a general labourer’s wife) and her eldest son William G Craddock.

Ten years later, by the time the 1891 census was taken, Elizabeth is still noted as the head of the household (and now living at No 6, Cliffe Square, Lewes) but is recorded as being a widow earning her living as a washerwoman. William, aged 13 is working as a farm boy and Charles (12) is recorded as a scholar. However, there are two more mouths to feed: Walter Craddock (aged ten) and Annie Craddock (aged four).

Charles does not appear on the 1901 census because he’d enlisted in the army in 1898 and was fighting the Boers in South Africa. His brother Walter was also in uniform and appears on the census as a 19 year old soldier stationed at Grand Redoubt, Eastbourne.

Charles’s army service record survives in the WO364 Army Pension series at the National Archives in Kew, and it makes fascinating reading. He joined the Royal Sussex Regiment at Chichester on 10th January 1898 and was given the service number 5510. He was already serving part time with the 3rd (Volunteer) Battalion of the Sussex Regiment when he joined the regular army, his stated trade or calling being labourer. He was aged 18 and 11 months, stood five feet, five and a half inches tall and weighed 122lbs.

On 22nd February 1898 Charles was posted to the 1st Battalion and appears to have served with this unit until 1st March 1902 when he was posted to the 2nd Battalion. He had originally joined up to serve seven years with the colours and five on the reserve but he extended his period of service to eight years (on 1st April 1904) and then again to twelve years on 26th January 1906. In common with many army service records of the time, Charles’s record is full of entries granting, and then forfeiting, good conduct pay or badges. Between 1900 and 1907 there are no less than fourteen entries as he was first awarded a good conduct badge or pay and then lost it again due to some minor misdemeanour.

Charles was stationed in England until September 1899 and then five months in Malta. He was then sent out to South Africa in February 1900 and remained there for just over two years. His next posting was to India in March 1902 and he spent eight months there before returning to England. He was at “Home” between December 1902 and June 1904 and was then posted out to Malta again, remaining there for eleven months. He then spent 22 months in Crete before returning to England in March 1907 where he then remained until discharged to the Army Reserve on 9th January 1910; exactly twelve years after he first enlisted.

At some point during his service, his mother Elizabeth, noted as his next of kin, moved from Cliffe Square in Lewes to Sheffield Park which falls within Chailey Parish.

On 25th January 1910, Charles married Elizabeth Burns (spinster) at the register office in Maresfield, Sussex and July the following year, their daughter Lily Elizabeth was born. Three years later in March 1914 the couple would have a son, Charles Joseph Craddock, who much later, would serve as a regular soldier with the Grenadier Guards.

Charles senior however, was not yet finished with military life. In October 1911 he attested for service with section D of the Army Reserve. His previous period of service on the Reserve had expired on 9th January 1910 and his re-enlistment into Section D effectively meant that if required, he could be recalled to the colours. He was then aged 32 years and appeared to have grown two and a half inches as his height is given as five feet, eight. He had a dark complexion, brown eyes and dark brown hair. He was tattooed on both arms and on his chest. Charles gave his trade as railway labourer and his address as 2 Market Lane, Lewes.

He then presumably settled down to civilian life for three years but was immediately recalled to the colours when Britain declared war on Germany, being mobilised on 5th August 1914.

Charles did not serve overseas with the Royal Sussex Regiment but instead remained at the regimental depot in Sussex. He was transferred, very briefly, to number 608 Home Service Employment Company of The Labour Corps in 1917 but then transferred back to The Royal Sussex Regiment on 30th November that year as “not suitable”. He was posted to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, on 2nd May 1918.

By this stage, according to his service record, he was living at Railway Cottages, Sheffield Park, Sussex. As Sheffield Park falls within Chailey Parish, this is why he appears on the Reverend Jellicoe’s list of Chailey serving parishioners. In October 1915, the parish magazine had noted that Pte C Craddock was serving with the 2nd Royal Sussex Regiment in England and had repeated this information every month up to and including the final published roll call in July 1919. He was certainly in England but with the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion rather than the 2nd. He was finally demobilised on 11th March 1919, his address now given as c/o Mrs Hobden, Plumpton Green, Plumpton, Sussex.

Charles Craddock died of TB at 40, Valence Road, Lewes on 13th March 1945. He was 65 years old and his profession noted as retired railway platelayer.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The killing time

In later years, relatives of Chailey's First World War veterans would remember their men's sacrifices; formerly, around the parish war memorial each Remembrance Sunday, and privately as another death anniversary approached. In late June and early July there would be plenty of occasions for reflection.

Arthur Tully of the 7th Royal Sussex Regiment, died of wounds on 23rd June 1918 and George Cheeseman of the 2nd Royal Fusiliers, died at Gallipoli on 28th June 1915. Arthur had been born at Ardingley in Sussex but George was born and bred in South Chailey.

On June 30th 1916, Thomas Homewood of South Chailey and the Royal Field Artillery, was killed in action in Belgium. Before joining the army he was employed at the Farmers’ Co-operative Association offices at Lewes and was a member of the Lewes Athletic Football Club.

If 1st July 1916 remains the worst day ever for the British Army, the previous day certainly stakes a claim for being the day that Sussex's pals' battalions died. Caught up in a diversionary attack on the Boar's Head, the 11th, 12th and 13th Battalions of the Royal Sussex Regiment suffered over eleven hundred casualties. One of these was Albert Plummer of the 13th Battalion. Wounded on the 30th, he would die of his wounds on July 2nd.

And just to complete a sad triptych of Chailey casualties, Frederick Cottingham of the 8th Royal Sussex, was killed in action on July 1st 1916; one of sixty thousand British casualties sustained that day. May they all rest in peace.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Henry Alfred Brooks

Henry Alfred Brooks was killed in action in Italy on 15th June 1918. He was born in Chailey about November 1895 and first saw service during the First World War with the Army Veterinary Corps, enlisting in January 1915. In September 1917 he transferred to the 9th York and Lancaster Regiment and it was whilst serving with this battalion that he was killed. He is buried at Granezza British Cemetery and is one of the few Chailey men killed in action, for whom I have no grave photograph.

Henry's service record survives as a burnt document at the National Archives in Kew and much of the information contained in it is reproduced on a separate page on this blog (see link above).

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Field Marshal Lord Roberts of Kandahar

If there's a direct Chailey link to Lord Roberts, I've yet to find it. Nevertheless, I'm going to exercise a little artistic licence here and devote this entry to Lord Roberts; a man for whom I have much admiration having just read his account of his 41 years in India.

There's a good brief Wikepedia biography of Lord Roberts and here isn't the place to repeat all that information. I have to confess, that I knew nothing about him other than he'd died in November 1914 whilst in France; but he appears to have been a very capable and much loved soldier and you get the sense, when reading his Indian account, that he was both thoughtful and even-handed at the same time. He certainly travelled a lot and must have notched up several hundred thousands of miles criss-crossing not only the Indian Empire (to say nothing of Burma and Nepal) but also large chunks of Afghanistan.

In 1880, Lord Roberts headed the Kabul-Kandahar Field Force and was ultimately successful in relieving Kandahar. The logistics though, were staggering. The force comprised approximately 10,000 soldiers (of whom nearly two thirds were Indians) and 8,500 "followers" to look after the animals, carry dhoolies, prepare food etc.

Roberts goes into some detail about the amount of food required to feed his army each day. This included 4000 lbs of meat, 4000 lbs of vegetables, 25,600 lbs of atta (used by the Indian soldiers to make their breads) and 80 gallons of rum. (Remember, this is the daily allowance). Transporting all of this - and I've mentioned just a fraction of the requirements - were nearly eight and a half thousand cattle, mules, ponies, donkeys and camels. Little wonder then, as Roberts mentions earlier in his narrative, and referring to a different campaign that, "the column was about twelve miles in length so that the head had almost reached the end of the march before the rear could start." (My italics). When Roberts left Kandahar and returned to India, he was able to find his way back simply by following the trail of animals that had died on the outward journey.

The book is full of fascinating anecdotes and for me, reading it now, nearly four years into my own stint in India, and with another Anglo-Aghan conflict raging; there are very clear parallels. But I'll close with two typically British idiosyncracies which belong as much to the stiff upper lip of British Victorian militarism as they do to Carry on up the Khyber.

Asked for a progress report on the hordes of Afghans threatening a British position, Roberts is told, "large masses were steadily advancing from north, south and west, and that their numbers were momentarily becoming greater, to which a young officer in charge of the signalling staion added, 'the crowds of Afghans in the Chardeh valley remind me of Epsom on the Derby day.'" Albeit presumably lacking the formalities of dress.

The second incident, the absurdity of which, Lord Roberts notes, occurred shortly afterwards when, "just at the time when the fight was hottest, and I was receiving reports every few seconds from the officers commanding the several posts, Eli Bux [an elderly Mahomedan servant] whispered in my ear that my bath was ready. He was quite unmoved by the din and shots, and was carrying on his normal duties as if nothing at all unusual was occurring."

I see from Wikipedia that Forty-one years in India can be downloaded at Project Gutenberg although I picked up my copy in a local Bangalore bookshop courtesy of Asian Educational Services who have re-published a lot of forgotten treasures.

Roberts, who won the VC during the Indian Mutiny, was a highly decorated soldier whose love of India shines through his account. Indeed, he died of pneumonia after visiting Indian troops in France. He also had his own share of personal tragedy, his first three children dying in infancy and his son, who won the VC during the Boer War, dying in that conflict.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Charles Lee & John Thurgood

Charles Lee was killed on 3rd June 1917 whilst serving with the 11th Royal Sussex Regiment. He was 31 years old. A married man who had enlisted in Henley but was living in Chailey, Charles is buried in Vlamertinghe Military Cemetery in Ypres. On his tombstone is written, “UNTIL THE DAY BREAK / AND THE SHADOWS FLEE AWAY”.

On 4th June 1919 John William Thurgood, formerly of the Royal Field Artillery, died of appendicitis at his home in Grimsby. He was 27 years old. His connection with Chailey (or rather, Newwick) was that he had been a patient at Beechland House some time between November 1917 and March 1918. John Thurgood is buried beneath a CWGC headstone in Scartho Road Cemetery, Grimsby.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The loss of HMS Invincible

On this day in 1916, HMS Invincible was blown in two at the Battle of Jutland and sank almost immediately. There were six survivors out of a crew of 1027. Amongst the dead were two Chailey men, Sidney George Augustus Bristow and Cecil Langridge. Aged just 16, Cecil was the youngest of Chailey's servicemen to be killed in action. Sidney, at 22, also counts as one of the parish's younger fallen.

Today, both men's names can be seen on the Chailey war memorial and on the Naval memorial at Portsmouth.

On this day too, in 1911, my maternal grandmother, Emily Whellams, was born. Her story can be read on my Whellams website. Had she lived she would have been 96 years old today.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

64128 Pte William Stevens, 8th MGC

William Stevens was born at Chailey and living at Hunts Cottage, Scaynes Hill when he attested at Hayward’s Heath on the 23rd February 1916.  His attestation was approved at Chichester on the 24th June 1916 and he was posted to the 28th (Reserve) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers three days later where he was given the regimental number 11275.  At the time of his attestation he was single, aged 20 years and 11 months and working as a steam thresher.  His father, John Stevens, was noted as William's next of kin and at some point during William's service the family moved from Hunts Cottage to Tunis House, The Green, Newick.

On 1st September 1916 William was transferred to the 104th Training Reserve Battalion and then transferred again, on the 12th October 1916, to the Machine Gun Corps where he was issued with a new regimental number, 64128.

Chailey Parish Magazine first notes him in November 1916 as Pte W Stevens, serving with the 104th Training Reserve Battalion, Royal Fusiliers in Scotland.  

William proceeded overseas on the 30th December 1916 and was posted to the 27th MGC on the 10th January 1917. He was admitted to hospital with trench fever on the 3rd March 1917 and was wounded by shrapnel in the head and right leg on the 31st May 1917. He spent five days at No 42 Casualty Clearing Station before being discharged to duty. 

William Stevens, by now serving with the 8th Battalion, MGC was reported missing on Monday 27th May 1918 and this was duly reported in Chailey Parish Magazine which noted him missing between August 1918 and July 1919. In fact, it was not until April 1919 that the War Office officially accepted that William had been killed on 27th May the previous year. His body was never found and he is commemorated on the Soissons memorial (below, courtesy of Colin Roberts) in France.

In June 1919, William's surviving family members were noted as his father, John Stevens; brothers Albert Stevens (aged 32) and George Stevens (aged 21, serving with the Army of Occupation) and sisters Clara Stevens (aged 24) and Margaret Moon (aged 27).

William Stevens is commemorated in two Sussex locations.  His name is on the war memorial on the village green at Chailey and also on a stone tablet and wooden shrine inside St Augustines Church, Scaynes Hill. The information contained at Scaynes Hill notes that he was a corporal (which is incorrect) and that he was killed on the Chemin des Dames.  His inclusion on the Chailey war memorial appears to have been an afterthought. His name appears at the bottom of the list of names as W Stevens and is out of alphabetical sequence.  It seems probable that, like Frederick Albert Jon Wood, his name was added at a later date. 

William Stevens appears on the 1901 census of England as the six year old son of John and Sarah Stevens of Wapsbourne Farm Cottage, Sheffield Park, Chailey.  His brothers Albert and George and his cousins William H Stevens, Frank Stevens and James Stevens (all mentioned in Chailey Parish Magazine) also served during the First World War.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Saying "Thank you"

Call me old fashioned but I still believe that manners maketh man. I've been very fortunate over the years in that people have willingly shared with me, information about Chailey and the First World War. They continue to do so and I hope that I always show my gratitude.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said for some of the people who contact me as a result of having located a relative on my site as a result of a Google search. I'm not going to make a big fuss about it here because this blog, and the site it feeds into, are concerned entirely with commemorating the men and women of Chailey during the First World War.

But let me say just this. Please, if you can summon up the strength to write me an e-mail asking for additional information on people or tips on researching WW1 soldiers, at least have the good grace to send me an acknowledgement once I've sent you the material.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

28239 Private John Ford, 8th East Surrey Regiment

John Ford was killed in action on 3rd May 1917 whilst serving with the 8th East Surrey Regiment. It wasn't until April the following year however, that Chailey Parish Magazine reported that he had been killed in action.

John was born in Chailey around 1885 and before joining the East Surreys had served with the Royal Sussex Regiment. His number indicates that he had joined a Sussex service battalion in February or March 1916 while his East Surrey number, 28239, indicates that he joined this regiment some time between April and December 1916 (but probably nearer to the summer than the winter).

John Ford has no known grave and is commemorated on the Arras memorial.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The suffering of a generation

Fletching born William Jared Brooks stands stiffly to attention and stares hard at the camera. Born in 1896 he enlisted in November 1914 and was in France by March 1916. He was probably no more than twenty years old when this photo was taken.

William had enlisted with his brother Sydney and the two men were given consecutive numbers in the 12th Royal Sussex (2nd South Down) Regiment. Sydney was killed on 30th June 1916 but William survived and at some point sent this photograph of himself to his old headmaster, John Oldaker, in Newick.

Also appearing on Chailey 1914-1918 are photographs of Frank Chatfield, Frank Mainwood and Richard Clarkson. Frank Mainwood lost his right eye whilst serving with the RGA and Richard Clarkson was taken prisoner in 1918. Frank Chatfield was invalided to England in August 1916.

Truly, the 1914-1918 generation paid a heavy price.

Friday, April 27, 2007

A heavy sacrifice

On 23rd April 1918, Alexander Plummer, serving with the 19th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry, was killed in action. He was the youngest of six boys and one of three brothers to be killed during the First World War. His brother Albert Plummer had been killed in action on 2nd July 1916 whilst a third brother, Owen Plummer, had been killed on 5th April the previous year. Alexander has no known grave and is commemorated on the Pozieres memorial. All three brothers are also commemorated on the Chailey war memorial.

Also mourning two sons in April, were James and Margaret Smith of Yew Tree Cottage, Cornwell's Bank, Newick. Their son Frederick James Smith had been killed on 17th April 1917 at Arras and now, on 26th April 1918, another son, George Spencer Smith, was killed in Belgium whilst serving with the 13th Royal Sussex Regiment. He is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial. Tragically, James and Margaret also lost two other sons to the Great War: Septimus Sydney Smith at Gallipoli on 19th August 1915 and Edward George Smith on the Somme on 26th July 1916. All four brothers are remembered on the war memorial at Newick.

Thus between them, the Plummer family of Chailey and the Smith family of Newick lost seven sons, holding the unenviable distinction of being the two families from those two villages who made the greatest sacrifices.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Three men killed in a week

April 1917 saw the British Army launching its assault at Arras. As far as Chailey was concerned, it would mourn three more of its sons.

Alfred Bird of the 3rd Dragoons was killed on the 11th April and has no known grave. He is commemorated on the Arras Memorial. The following day, Albert Selby of the Royal Engineers died of multiple shell wounds. He was a regular soldier who had enlisted in 1910 at the age of 15. He is buried in Bethune Town Cemetery.

On 17th April, Frederick Smith of the 4th Suffolk Regiment was killed in action at Arras. He too is commemorated on the Arras Memorial. Three of his brothers were also killed in action during WW1.

Finally, a year later, on 12th April 1918, Frederick Stevenson of The Labour Corps, died at home in Chailey. He is buried in St Mary's Churchyard, north Chailey. Truly a black week for this small Sussex community.

Monday, April 16, 2007

George Page

I've updated George Page's biography on the Chailey website. As mentioned the other day, I've been sent a number of photographs and biographical details of men who went to Newick School. George falls into that category and so I'm happy to be able to add further information about him.

What I didn't know was that he died in 1919 whilst serving in India. Strangely though, his name does not appear on either the Chailey or the Newick war memorials, even though technically he is a war casualty. (He appears on the Commonwealth War Graves' site for instance).

I'll be updating more biographies and adding further portrait photographs over the coming days.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Hobden brothers

During the First World War, John Oldaker, the headmaster of the village school in Newick, Sussex, kept notes of old pupils who were serving in the armed forces. He also sent word to them that he would like a photograph of them in uniform.

Earlier this week, Simon Stevens of Sussex, sent me photographs of a number of men from John Oldaker's collection. Newick neighbours Chailey and so it is not at all surprising that a number of the Chailey men went to school there. Nevertheless I am indebted to Simon for taking the trouble to take time out from his own Newick research. I have uploaded some of John Oldaker's photos to the website and more will follow.

The WW1 biographies of William Ellis, Owen Hobden, Frederick Smith and his brother George Smith now all have photos and it's great to see their faces for the first time. Sadly, only William Ellis survived the war. The other three men were all killed in action.

Below, I attach photographs, from top to bottom, of Alfred, George, Owen and Richard Hobden. Alfred, George and Richard do not feature much on the website although I do refer to them on Owen's page. Interesting features to note below are Alfred's Good Conduct chevron and two vertical wound stripes below that, George's Good Conduct chevron, and Richard's skill-at-arms signalling badge on his lower left arm.

Monday, April 09, 2007

April is the cruellest month

On 5th April 1917, Chailey born Private Owen Plummer of the Army Service Corps, was killed in action. Exactly one year later, Private Edward Wells who, at the time of his enlistment, was living in Chailey, was killed in action whilst serving with the 9th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers.

Owen is buried in Douchy-les-Ayette British Cemetery in France and commemorated on Chailey's memorial along with two of his brothers, Albert Plummer and Alexander Plummer. Edward Wells has no known grave but is commemorated on the Pozieres memorial in France. He is not named on the Chailey parish memorial.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

L/Cpl Albert Thompsett

Albert Thompsett died on this day in 1918; he would have been about 19 years old.

Like many men, he almost certainly enlisted when he was under age, but by October 1916 he was in France and serving with the 12th Royal Sussex Regiment (also known as the 2nd South Down). He was not an original South Down enlistment but he must have felt at home in a battalion which, originally at least, had been compiled from men from his home county.

At some point he was posted to the sister battalion, the 11th Royal Sussex, and it was whilst serving with this unit that he was killed. Albert's body was never found and he is commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial to the Missing in France.