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.