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.