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.

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