Thursday, November 27, 2008

Andrew Geddes

I'm delighted to have been sent a photo of, and additional information about, S/7793 Private Andrew Geddes of the 10th Gordon Highlanders. Private Geddes, a native of Auchencairn in Scotland was wounded at Loos in 1915, wounded on the Somme in 1916 and wounded for a third and final time at Armentieres in 1918. He was then discharged from the army in 1918.

After being wounded in 1916, Private Geddes found himself under the care of Sussex 54 VAD at Beechlands in Newick which is how he appears on my website.

I am grateful to Stuart Wilson for contacting me with the additional information on Andrew Geddes which I have now included on his page. Being able to finally put a face to his name is a wonderful added bonus.

Andrew Geddes also appears on Stuart's Sons of Galloway website in the Auchencairn nominal roll.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Albert Leggett

Albert Leggett's service record survives as a burnt document in the WO 363 series at the National Archives. Ancestry has just made service records I-N available on-line and so, twenty odd years after I first transcribed Albert's entry in Nurse Oliver's album, I have been able to find out more about him. I've now written up my notes and updated Albert's page on the website.

Albert was not a resident of Chailey but a wound on a battlefield in France would ensure that he would soon be acquainted with the parish. He enlisted with the Northamptonshire Regiment at Norwich in April 1915. By the end of July that year he was in France and, posted to the regular 1st Battalion, would fight through Loos and the Battle of the Somme until severely wounded at Pozieres in August 1916. He was in hospital in France for just under a month and then, returning to England in September 1916, would spend at least another ten weeks in hospitals in England; first to the 2nd Eastern General Hospital at Brighton and then to Beechlands (or Beechland House) in Newick. Later transferred to the 2/5th Scottish Rifles and then the RAMC, Albert would spend the rest of the war in England. The leave that he was granted from hospital in December 1916 was beneficial to Albert and his wife. In September 1917 their second child was born.

Albert was discharged from the army in March 1919 and two months later, a grateful country, acknowledging that his wound amounted to a 20 per cent degree of disablement, awarded him a weekly pension of five shillings and sixpence, to be reviewed twelve months later. Subsequent Board papers do not survive but it seems likely, given the many other soldiers' papers I have seen, that his award was reduced.

Sunday, November 09, 2008


On this Remembrance Sunday, almost ninety years since the guns on the Western Front fell silent, I remember Chailey's First World War dead.

I remember those with connections to Chailey Parish :

Alfred Albert Agate; died of sickness on 19th November 1918
Henry William Beard; killed in action on 19th September 1918
Alfred Bird; killed in action on 11th April 1917
William James Brazier; killed in action on 23rd March 1918
Charles Bristow; killed in action on 3rd September 1917
Charles Bristow; killed in action on 27th September 1917
Sidney George Augustus Bristow; drowned at sea on 31st May 1916
Henry Alfred Brooks; killed in action on 15th June 1918
Charles Buckwell; killed in action on 11th July 1917
Thomas Chatfield; killed in action on 25th August 1918
George Cheeseman; killed in action on 28th June 1915
John Henry Cornford; died on 19th November 1920
William Trayton Cornford; killed in action on 18th November 1916
Frederick Samuel Cottingham; killed in action on 1st July 1916
Richard John Deane; accidentally killed on 18th July 1917
Frederick John Drummond; killed in action on 3rd November 1914
John Ellis; killed in action on 10th August 1917
George Masters Emery; died of wounds on 15th December 1916
John Ford; killed in action on 3rd May 1917
Harry Gates; killed in action on 19th February 1917
Richard William Gibson; killed in action on 6th September 1916
Frederick Heasman; killed in action on 26th September 1917
Owen Hobden; died of sickness on 13th November 1918
Charles Hodges; died 8th November 1918
Thomas Homewood; killed in action on 30th June 1916
Gerald Sclater Ingram; killed in action on 21st October 1914
Claud Foord Ireland; killed in action on 12th October 1917
Robert Charles Jessop; killed in action on 23rd April 1918
Cecil Langridge; drowned at sea on 31st May 1916
William Alfred Lansdowne; killed in action on 26th February 1916
Charles Lee; killed in action on 2nd June 1917
Sigurd Harold Macculloch; died of wounds on 20th December 1915
Joseph Charles Miller; died of wounds on 29th September 1917
John Henry Oliver; died of wounds on 25th September 1915
Albert Edward Padgham; died of wounds on 24th August 1916
George Robert Page; died in India in 1919
Frank Peacock; killed in action on 20th December 1915
Albert Plummer; died of wounds on 2nd July 1916
Alexander Plummer; killed in action on 23rd April 1918
Ernest Plummer; died of wounds on 3rd September 1916
Owen Plummer; killed in action on 5th April 1917
Lionel Henry Yorke Pownall; killed in action on 21st March 1915
Magnus Rainier Robertson MC; killed in action on 22nd August 1918
Richard Roffe; died on 5th February 1917
George Saunders; killed in action on 17th August 1916
Henry Alfred Saunders; killed in action on 7th October 1916
Albert Henry Selby; died of wounds on 12th April 1917
Frederick James Smith; killed in action on 17th April 1917
George Spencer Smith; killed in action on 26th April 1918
Arthur Harry Snelling; died of wounds on 25th August 1918
William Henry Spice; killed in action on 18th July 1917
Frank Stevens; killed in action on 25th October 1918
William Stevens; killed in action on 27th May 1918
Frederick Stevenson; died of sickness on 12th April 1918
Albert Henry Thompsett; killed in action on 3rd April 1918
Arthur Tully; died of wounds on 23rd June 1918
Arthur Turner; killed in action on 27th November 1917
George Turner; died of wounds on 24th August 1916
George Trayton Washer; killed in action on 23rd October 1915
Edward Wells; killed in action on 5th April 1918
Alan Herbert Mainwaring West; accidentally killed on 7th January 1918
Charles Jarrett Willey; killed in action on 26th September 1917
Charles Joseph Wood; killed in action on 31st October 1914
Frederick Albert Jon Wood; died June 1920
Thomas Victor Wood; killed in action on 4th August 1916

I remember those who were nursed at Hickwells or Beechlands and who were subsequently killed in action or died of wounds or sickness

William J Butters died of sickness on 25th January 1920
Stan Collins; killed in action on 18th August 1916
Joseph French; killed in action on 3rd August 1917
Robert Mearns Hobbs; killed in action on 28th November 1917
Ernest Arthur Malins; killed in action on 2nd July 1916
John William Sheridan; killed in action 11th October 1917
Thomas Clement Skurray; killed in action on 28th August 1915
James Sweeney; killed in action on 26th March 1918
John William Thurgood; died of sickness on 6th March 1919
Ernest Whitcomb; died on 10th December 1918

And I remember too, my great uncle who had no Chailey connections but who also laid down his life for his King and Country.

John Frederick Nixon; killed in action on 3rd October 1918

Seventy six men. The equivalent of two and a half First World War infantry platoons; or six village cricket teams (and four umpires). May they rest in peace and may we remember their sacrifice.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning. WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

Pictured above:

The age of innocence - Jessie Nixon, Walter Nixon, John Frederick Nixon (1891-1918), Edgar Nixon

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Alfred George Mellish & John Percival Turner

Earlier this year, on the 92nd anniversary of the opening of the Battle of the Somme, I wrote a piece using extracts from an interview I'd conducted with Horace Ham. Horace was serving with the 16th Middlesex (Public Schools) Battalion and was wounded on 1st July 1916 before he even got out of the trench. The piece of shrapnel that hit him probably saved his life.

Less fortunate were the nearly 20,000 British soldiers who were killed in action that day, a figure that to me, still, is almost incomprehensible. Twenty thousand men. The equivalent of twenty British battalions give or take.

Horace recalled the Mellish brothers, the elder of whom was killed on 1st July, and I was delighted to receive an e-mail this morning from Sheila Jones whose great uncle, John Percival Turner, killed in action the same day, shares a grave with Alfred Mellish in Hawthorn Ridge cemetery. Sheila's son visited the Flanders battlefields earlier this year and took the two photos which are included here.

May John and Alfred rest in peace everlasting. Thank you Sheila for contacting me.

Service Records I-N

I see that has made more of the WW1 service records available on line. To my mind, Ancestry provides an excellent service and I shudder to think how many hours I spent trudging up to the National Archives in London; hours which are now spent tapping out names in the search boxes on Ancestry's website.

What this means for my Chailey site - all being well - is that I'll find more service records for Chailey men, and when I do, I'll update their pages on the website. Watch this space.

My great uncle's service record is also now easily accessible. John Frederick Nixon (Jack, to his family) was my grandfather's elder brother and was killed in action in October 1918. He is commemorated on the Vis-en-Artois memorial in France.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Alan Herbert Mainwaring West

My thanks are due yet agin to Ian Seccombe of Chailey who recently sent me a photograph of a memorial to Alan Herbert Mainwaring West which is located in St Martin's Chapel, Chailey Heritage. Blogger seems to be playing up at the moment and I'm unable to post the image here. However, I have uploaded it on the website.

Arthur SIDNEY Weaving

I'm delighted to have been contacted by the great nephew of Arthur Sidney Weaving (known as Sid) who was unfortunate enough to be wounded and gassed twice - once in 1917 and then again in 1918. Sid was not from Chailey but he was sent to Beechlands to recuperate after his second wound. His great nephew has sent me a photograph of Sid and his wife taken some time after the war.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Chailey Heritage 2008

Here, courtesy of Ian Seccombe of Chailey, is a recent shot of Chailey Heritage. Comparing it with the photo that I posted here of the building in 1908, the passage of years has, to outward appearances at least, been kind.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Fasthosts - web hosting

This is a shameless commerical plug for Fasthosts, the company that has hosted my Chailey website for the past three years. Having no technical abilities, I also use the company's Sitebuilder package. It has it's limitations but it does the job and so I'm happy to plug Fasthosts here.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thomas Victor Wood

I am reproducing here, a letter from Wallace Wood - father of Thomas Victor Wood - which he wrote to the War Office after his son's death. The letter is also on Thomas's page on my website but I think it's worthy of a second airing here.

When we think of the First World War, we often recall images of grinning reservists or Kitchener volunteers in the early days and weeks of August 1914. As the war progressed however, the flow of recruits dried up, leading to the introduction of the Derby Scheme in 1915 and then the final recourse, conscription, in 1916.

Wallace Woods's letter is interesting from two angles. First because he draws attention to local Chailey people who quite clearly were doing everything they possibly could to avoid joining up, and second because we see here a rare example of anger and frustration at his son's death.

Letter from Wallace Wood to The War Office

6th May 1917

As I have never heard whether my son (the late 2nd Lieut T Victor Wood, 7th Royal Sussex Regt) body has ever been recovered I am writing for further particulars. I received a letter from Captain Osbourne [sic] stating that he was shot on August 4th last in taking a German trench but as the enemy counter attacked so strongly they were unable to recover the body. We wrote asking where the body was left but have received no reply. As we never knew where he was when alive, I think we have a right to know where he was killed. I regret to have to make a protest here in the way he was sent out to France and hurried up to the trenches at once. We were told that every man was wanted but we find that was not so. After perhaps, all the willing ones were gone there seems about two thirds of the unwilling ones get exemptions which is very unfair and unjust. I think every man ought to do his duty. My son could of do farm work as others and good milker. I know we want more men and more men on the farms but I do not think it fair to keep back about 90 per cent of farmers single sons as it seems to be the case about here, at the cost of other peoples sons.

We have several older men about here been on farms nearly all their life have had to leave in order to keep young strong single ones back and the older doing gardening etc. One of my neighbours has a single son who was a Baker when he registered [but] has changed his occupation twice since to avoid his duty. In one case he had to leave his place as there were two of military age on about 6 acres and 3 cows ----- join the army. Instead he gets on another farm. We have within ¾ of a mile, several farmers I contract for got two single sons at home and one I am told has three. Is this fair? Why was all leave stopped for those that had been in danger nearly all the time? Why was not enough fresh men sent out for the Somme advance? My son’s leave was about two months over due when he might have been home with Hundreds of others to see their Friends.

Thomas, killed in action on 4th August 1916, has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval memorial on The Somme. He is mentioned in the History of the 7th (Service ) Battalion, The Royal Sussex Regiment (see below).


"The 7th Battalion, R Sussex, was formed at Chichester on 12 August 1914 and allocated to 36th Brigade, 12th (Eastern) Division with which it served throughout the war. It landed in France on 1st June 1915 and remained on the Western Front , distinguishing itself in many battles - Loos, Hohenzollern Craters, the Somme, Arras, Cambrai and the final advance. Seventeen Battle Honours were awarded. Total casualties numbered 147 officers and 3,500 other ranks, of whom 57 and 1012 died.

"It is easy to run out of superlatives [Says the Naval & Military Press, which has re-published this work] but this has to be one of the best histories I have come across, with graphic and detailed descriptions of the fighting, supported by clear maps and with photos that include trench scenes. Apart from the well-written narrative there is a wealth of information about the battalion to ensure a permanent record.

"Appendices record the diary of the battalion’s movements from embarkation (30 May 1915) to 16 June 1919 when the last remnants of the battalion left for England and this is followed by a table showing, year by year, the number of days spent in Rest areas, in Billeting areas, and in the Trenches from 1 June 1915 to 11 November 1918. Forty-two percent of the battalion’s service on the Western Front was spent in the trenches. There is a table summarising total casualties each year and another giving casualties in main engagements. There is the Roll of Honour of officers and of other ranks with dates of death, and there is the list of individual honours and awards headed by a summary. We have the nominal roll of officers, WOs and senior NCOs who embarked with the battalion in May 1915, and finally there is the list of officers who served with the battalion with their service records. There is also a 25-page index."

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Site update

I've updated the Chailey website by adding some more Ancestry links to the bottom of each page, and removing some of the borders elsewhere. I've also revised the links page, taking out a few broken links and updating others. It's all pretty mundane stuff really but I'll continue tinkering with the site over the next few days.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Chailey Heritage

It's a little off tangent but Heritage boys did serve their King and Country during WW1 and for that reason alone, I'm happy to include this 1908 photo of Chailey Heritage. Note the original title - Guild of the Poor Brave Things.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

William Hugh Blanchard

Here's some more conjecture regarding Chailey men and army service numbers and enlistment dates.

I have assumed from previous research, that the W Blanchard mentioned in Chailey Parish Magazine, is William Hugh Blanchard. The National Archives holds a medal index card for this man giving his number as G/24460 with the Royal Sussex Regiment. Chailey Parish Magazine states that W Blanchard was first with a Training Reserve Battalion in April 1917, and later with the Royal Sussex Regiment (first the Reserve Battalion and later the 9th).

The number G/24460 would have been issued to a Royal Sussex Regiment soldier probably in mid to late November 1917 and so this certainly ties in with the information I already had.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Frances Blencowe slideshows

Flushed with how good the Picasa slideshows look, I've added a couple for Frances Blencowe comprising photos when she was nursing at Netley Military Hospital in 1914 and then later, in 1917, at Brook House (now Chailey Place) in Chailey. I'll be adding more slideshows shortly.

Sick and wounded slideshow

I have just added a slideshow to the page for sick and wounded soldiers which shows soldiers recuperating at Hickwells in Chailey and Beechlands in Newick. Most of the pictures date to 1915 at Hickwells and I have tried to put the photos up in chronological order. With the exception of Charles Sabourin who has his own slideshow, I have included captions for those men whom I have identified.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Henry William Beard - enlistment date

Henry William Beard, born in 1879 was almost certainly conscripted into the army in 1917. He was killed whilst serving with the 2nd Royal Sussex Regiment, although his army service number, prefixed with a G/ indicates that he was not a regular soldier.

Chailey parish magazine first notes him as serving with the Royal Sussex Regiment in June 1917, but his army number - G/21011 - indicates that he probably joined up in late January or February 1917.

Henry was killed in action on 19th September 1918 and is commemorated on the same memorial as my own great uncle, John Frederick Nixon: the Vis-en-Artois memorial in France.

Friday, August 29, 2008

W Brown - 9th Middlesex

I'll end my week's blogging on Chailey during the First World War with another convalescent patient and another couple of assumptions based on my army service numbers database.

I know very little about Private W Brown. This is what he wrote in Nurse Oliver's album:

Pte W. Brown
1218 No 2 Coy
9th Middlesex Regt

The 9th Middlesex was a Territorial Force battalion headquartered at Willesden Green, north London. Its rates of recruitment appear to have been a good deal slower than the other Middlesex Regiment Territorial Force battalions and by 11th August 1914, with the war a week old, it was only numbering at 1597. Private Brown though, had enlisted before the war began. His number places him as having joined up in late January or early February 1914.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

23331 Pte William H Baddock, 3rd Grenadier Guards

Private William H Baddock of the 3rd Grenadier Guards was a convalescent patient at Chailey in early 1916. Wounded in the head by a rifle grenade on Christmas Eve 1915, he arrived back in England four days later, was operated on in Brighton and then despatched to Hickwells in Chailey. He is the most prolific entrant in Nurse Oliver's autograph book and thanks to this, as well as mentions in local newspapers - we are able to build up a reasonably comprehensive picture of his stay at Chailey. (Having said that, I still do not know what his middle name is or what happened to him after he recovered from his wounds).

Having consulted my army service numbers database for the Grenadier Guards I can also now add that Private Baddock enlisted in March 1915, sometime between March 4th and March 10th. This means that he would have only had around seven months' training before he was sent to France as part of a draft for the Grenadier Guards. Three months later he was back in England.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

John Thomson Allan - Chailey convalescent

Working from my army service numbers database I can fill in some more detail about John Allan. It's conjecture of course, but the logic is good.

We know from the autograph entry in Nurse Oliver's album that he was in Chailey on 23rd October 1915. He drew the Gordon Highlanders' cap badge and wrote underneath it:

J T Allan
4th Gordon Hrs

Wounded at Houdge
25th Sept 1915

The National Archives comes up with one match and this is 3246 Private John Thomson Allan. Looking at my army service numbers database I see that this number would have been issued either in late November 1914 (3243 was issued on the 28th), or early December 1914 (3250 was issued on the 3rd). John Allan's number falls almost smack bang in the middle of these two numbers so it's reasonable to assume that he joined up at this time. Furthermore, the majority of enlistments into the 4th Gordon Highlanders at this time were in the reserve battalion, the 2/4th. So I'm guessing that John Allan was posted to the 2/4th and then subsequently to the 1/4th where he was later wounded at Loos. Thankfully, in terms of trying to understand army service numbers during the First World War, Territorial Force soldiers enlisting in second and third line battalions (eg 2/4th. 3/4th etc) were given numbers from the same series used by the 1/4th.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Charles Dudman

I've updated Charles Dudman's page as a result of correspondence received from Bryan Allen. My thanks to Bryan for contacting me.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Albert Padgham

David Gordon has sent me a photo which appears to show Albert Padgham (seated) and another unidentified Royal Sussex Regiment man standing behind him. David wondered whether the other man was Albert's younger brother William Padgham, but the problem here - which David recognises - is that according to the information we have, William never served in the Royal Sussex Regiment.
But let's go back to the photo. Comparing the seated man with a confirmed photo of Albert Padgham, it looks to be the same man. I had mentioned in Albert's write up that "his army number, with the prefix "L", suggests that he was a regular soldier and he may have enlisted shortly before or around August 1914." Having done a considerable amount of work on army service numbers, regimental numbering and enlistment dates since I wrote that, I'm going to narrow that down further.

The L/ prefix certainly suggests a regular enlistment and a date of August 1914 - almost certainly between the 7th and the 24th of that month. Had Albert enlisted with a South Down battalion (11th, 12th or 13th Royal Sussex) his number prefix would have been SD/. If he'd gone into another service battalion, the prefix would have been G/. So we can say with reasonable assurance that Albert, who would have only been 17 or eighteen when this photo was taken, decided on a career with his county regiment and probably enlisted for seven years with the Colours and five years on the Reserve.
But what of the other man? It could be William but if it is him he would have only been about 15. So two scenarios present themselves:
a) It is William. He enlisted with the Royal Sussex Regiment but was hoiked out of the army on account of having made a mis-statement of age. Later, in late 1916 (still apparently under age), he would enlist in the Royal Artillery.

b) It is not William but a friend of Albert's.
In any event, what a lovely photo of Albert Padgham and such a shame that only two years later, at the age of 19, he would be lying dead on French battlefield. The inscription on his headstone in Puchevillers British Cemetery reads:





My thanks to David Gordon, grandson of another Chailey veteran, Len Gordon, for again sending me such a great photograph from his family's collection.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Thomas Pateman MM - enlistment date

I'm going to apply some more logic to Thomas Pateman's army service, based on my army service numbers database. Although I will be launching the website with infantry regiment service numbers, I do have considerable data for other branches of the British Army.

On Thomas Pateman's page I state, "I could not find Thomas on the 1901 census and it is quite possible that by this stage he had already joined the army and was serving overseas, possibly in South Africa." We know that Thomas was serving as an RSM with the 4th (Queen's Own) Hussars by October 1915 and that he was a pre-war regular soldier. His medal index card gives two numbers and it is the first, four digit number - 4582, which is important here.

Prior to 1907, the cavalry numbered individually by regiments. This changed in 1907 and they numbered by corps - so one series of numbers for the household cavalry, one for the dragoons, one for the hussars and one for the lancers.

Assuming that Thomas joined the 4th Hussars pre 1907, his number indicates an enlistment date of late 1899 or early 1900. If he enlisted after 1907, this number would have been issued to a man joining up with the Corps of Hussars around August 1909.

It is difficult to say with certainty when Thomas enlisted in the British Army, but given that he was already an RSM by 1915, my money would be on an enlistment in 1899/1900 and that he probably extended his army service and therefore was still serving with the 4th Hussars (rather than on the Reserve) when war was declared in August 1914.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

William Mainwood - when did he enlist?

Chailey Parish magazine first mentions William Mainwood in March 1916, noting that he has attested for service. By October that year, it records that he is serving with the 9th Royal Berkshire Regiment in England. The medal index card that I mention on his page gives the number 27043 and I see from the data that I hold that that number would have been issued to a Berkshire Regiment man in May 1916. That would seem to fit with the information we know for fact: attests in March 1916, is called up shortly afterwards and goes to the Royal Berkshire depot in May 1916 where he gets his number, posted shortly afterwards to the 9th Battalion.

My data on the Ox and Bucks numbering sequences is a little thin but the second number that I mention for William Mainwood - 33201 - would not have been issued until after March 1917.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Chailey's decorated veterans

A number of Chailey men received gallantry awards during the First World War and their stories are all told on the Chailey website. Here they are, in alphabetical order, and my apologies in advance if I have omitted anybody:

Reverend Arthur Hamilton Boyd OBE, MC, TD
23330 Private Tom Cornford MM
374056 Bombardier John William Harmer MM
Lieutenant Albert Heasman MM
2145 L/Cpl Gilbert Arthur Heasman MM
49845 Corporal Shoeing-Smith Arthur Langridge MSM
Lt Sigurd Harold Macculloch, Mentioned in Dispatches
415211 RSM Thomas Pateman MM, Mentioned in Dispatches
Captain Magnus Rainier Robertson MC
G/1657 Sergeant Major Ernest Still MM
61832 Corporal William Henry Tingley DCM, Croix de Guerre
Major William Tidswell Towers-Clark MC
G/1671 Sergeant Frederick William Yeomans DCM

In addition, 12517 Cpl Fredrick John Denton who was a patient at Beechland House Hospital in 1916, had already been Mentioned in Dispatches twice and was presented with the Military Medal whilst he was recuperating at Beechlands.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Percy Durrant

Thanks to a message on the Chailey 1914-1918 guestbook, I am able to correct the assumptions I had made about who P Durrant was. I had assumed that he was Peter Durrant who was born in Buxted. The message puts me straight:

"My Grandfather John Hounsom Durrant had the butchers business at Chailey Green until he retired in 1946. The P Durrant you refer to is Percy Hounsom Durrant, who was born in Guildford in 1900, while his father was serving in the Boer War, the family moved to Chailey in ca 1903. Percy was a cadet in the RAF at that time."

My thanks to R J Durrant for contacting me. I'll be updating Percy's page later today.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Army Service Numbers 1881-1918

I've set up another blog on the topic of army service numbers. I've always been surprised that so many people seem, if not ready to dismiss these vital pieces of information, at least a little reticent at times, to dig down a little.

Eighteen months ago I decided to try and build upon the fledgling database of army numbers that I'd started to build when I commenced work on the Chailey site. My one criterion was that the information should come from original sources, and that meant going back to original attestation papers.

What's come out of that is a database of some thirty or forty thousand records I should think (I haven't had the time to count up exactly how many records there are), and a unique reference resource which can help a researcher narrow down a likely joining date for a particular soldier. I use the word "joining" rather than "enlisting" or "enlistment" deliberately. A man could enlist in one regiment and then transfer to another. If he transferred, he would be given a different number and he might also be given a different number if he was posted from one battalion in a regiment, to another in the same regiment.

The Army Service Numbers blog is really the companion to a far bigger work which is The site isn't up and running yet but it will be soon and when it is, visitors will be able to type in their ancestor's number and come up with a likely time-frame for his "joining". The first release will concentrate on infantry regiments between the years 1881 and 1918. Future releases will target other branches of the British Army within the same time frame.

There are exceptions (there are always exceptions in the British Army). At present, the following are beyond the scope of the Army Service Numbers project:
  • The Militia and Volunteers (pre 1908)
  • The Army Service Corps
  • The Labour Corps
  • The re-numbered Territorial Force (ie TF numbering from March 1917 onwards)

Nonetheless, even with these exceptions - and also understanding that in some cases there will be a number of caveats - I still believe that the database will offer the best resource on the web for identifying soldiers' joining dates from their numbers. In the meantime though, the army service numbers blog will provide tasters and pointers and I'll be more than happy to answer questions and queries as time permits.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The faces of 14-18

I quite like this little device. Of course, had the slideshow gadget been working properly, I could have put these photos in the right-hand margin. It's not, so I've copied the code into this particular blog entry.

As far as I know, none of these men pictured here have Chailey connections but it's a safe bet to assume that the majority of them served in some capacity during WW1. I have though, started to add slideshows to some of the main pages on the Chailey site, so visitors will be able to see the faces of some of those who served their King and Country. I have quite a large photographic archive and I'll do my best to upload some of this over the coming weeks.

As far as this mini slideshow from another of my collections is concerned, the fresh-faced boy wearing the Lincolnshire Regiment cap badge and displaying his Imperial Service badge on his right breast pocket is Private Donald Banks. He was 16 years old when this photograph was taken and he was badly wounded as a 16 year old, by Lake Zillebeke near Ypres in 1915. He was sent back to England, discharged from the army and joined the British Red Cross where he worked at a hospital in Lincolnshire. Later, when he was old enough, he re-joined the Lincolnshire Regiment and was back in France in time to take part in the March to Victory. I am pleased to say that he lived to a great age and was as bright as a button and with vivid memories when I interviewed him in Essex in the 1980s.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

More Jellicoe

Thanks to information received from New Zealand - via The Times newspaper - I've updated the pages for Thomas Jellicoe and his sons Christopher Jellicoe and Basil Jellicoe. My thanks to Robert Lowe for contacting me.

The Wall

This is somewhat off-topic but I thought that as this blog is, in many respects, a remembrance initiative, it would be appropriate to break away from Chailey for a minute and post details of another remembrance site that I stumbled upon today.

On the two occasions that I've been to the USA I made a point of visiting Washington DC to see the Vietnam Veterans' memorial there. I found the experience incredibly moving, so much that on the second occasion I was there I couldn't bring myself to stand and take photos because it felt as though I was intruding.

So I was delighted to find this Footnote website which takes visitors to The Washington Wall and which enables them to search for an individual name and find out more about the soldier who is commemorated there. Who knows, in the future, we may find other commemoration sites, First World War sites included, which enable visitors to have the same experience.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Royal visit 1932

Another of my Chailey contacts has sent me further information about the Royal visit to Chailey in 1932 by the Prince of Wales. Graham Johnson writes:

The visit took place on 19th July 1932 and was primarily to open the new buildings (now converted into private dwellings) at what became known as St. Georges. At the time, the President of Chailey Branch was Mr R. C. Blencowe and the Chairman was Captain C. H. Cotesworth. They approached Mrs Kimmins (head of the Chailey Craft Schools) and offered the services of the Legion as a guard of honour. This was agreed and in order to present a goodly number, Newick Branch was asked to take part as well. It was hoped 40 or so members from both branches would take part together with representatives from the County Committee plus the County Standard . They were allocated a space 20 yards by 3 yards just within the gates and formed up at 3-00pm with all men wearing their medals and British Legion badges.

So I'm guessing that the tall man speaking to HRH is Charles Cotesworth as Robert Blencowe would have been 74 at the time and the man in the photograph is clearly younger than that.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Reverend Thomas Harry Lee Jellicoe

Ian Seccombe of Chailey has sent me photographs of the last resting place of the Reverend Jellicoe, Rector of Chailey for thirty years (1894 - 1924) and the man who, did he but know it, has probably contributed more to the Chailey 1914-1918 website than anybody else. It was thanks to his diligence in recording the names of Chailey parishioners who served their King and Country during the First World War that enabled me to tell their stories on the website.

As Ian points out, the style of Reverend Jellicoe's memorial is almost identical to that of his son's - The Reverend Basil Jellicoe - who pre-deceased him and who is also buried in St Peter's churchyard. A detail of the inscription on Thomas Jellicoe's memorial is shown on his page on the Chailey 1914-1918 website..

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Chailey veterans 1932

Here's a close up of the main body of men from the 1932 photograph. Click on the image for an enlargement of it. My thanks to Tom Cornford's son Stan for sending this to me.

Chailey Mill 1932

Here's an interesting photo taken in front of Chailey Mill in 1932. That's the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII wearing the straw boater, but who is the man he's speaking to, and who are the other veterans?
Tom Cornford MM, his head slightly bowed, is the veteran standing in the front row directly under the flag of St George (and indicated by the arrow), but who are the other men? The mill had been damaged in a storm either the previous year or shortly before that, hence the reason it has no sails.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

The age of innocence

Another view looking up what is now the A275 towards North Chailey. Undated as is often the case but I'm guessing late 1890s or early 1900s. I don't have a very high resolution image here so I'm afraid this is the best I can do.

War memorial and St Peter's church

Another undated photograph of Chailey Green, and an interesting angle showing the church and war memorial. The house in between the two, no longer exists.

Chailey village green

Here's another view of Chailey village green, looking up what is now the A275 towards North Chailey.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Chailey Green 1920s

Here's Chailey Green with the war memorial. You can read more about Chailey's war memorial and remembrance on the main site.

Chailey Green pre October 1920

I've been sent a couple of old photos of Chailey - and I have others which I'll also post in due course.

This first one shows Chailey Green before the war memorial was unveiled in October 1920. I'm assuming that this photograph and others that I'll post are out of copyright and that they're OK to post on a non-commercial, remembrance blog. If they're not, I'm sure somebody will let me know.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Ninety two years on

Horace Ham was in the line opposite Hawthorn Redoubt when it was blown up at 7.20am on 1st July 1916. He wasn't a Chailey man but he was there on the Somme on the day that the British Army suffered its heaviest casualties in a single day. Today, it's headline news when a soldier is killed in Afghanistan. On 1st July 1916, the British Army sustained nearly 60,000 casualties, almost a third of these killed and most of those killed in the first hour of the British attack. The failure of that attack and the reasons behind it have been written about ever since. But today, 92 years on, I'll leave the talking to Horace Ham.

Horace was 93 years old when I interviewed him at The Royal Star and Garter home in Richmond-upon-Thames in 1988. Before the war he was a footman, but on July 1st 1916 he was a private soldier, one of Kitchener's men waiting in a trench, ready to go over the top with the 16th (Public Schools) Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment.

"The 1st July 1916 was a proper mess up. You see we were told that all the barbed wire would be cut and all the Germans would be dead, all that sort of thing. Instead of that, the Germans were very clever. They'd built marvellous dug-outs which they built properly. They were like houses underground, beds and everything in there. The Germans said they were going to stay put and when our people started shelling, they went down their dug-outs. As soon as they stopped and we advanced, they came up, put their machine guns up and mowed our fellas down like ninepins.

"I was lucky mind. I saw Hawthorn Ridge go up and I got hit in the hip with a bit of shrapnel just as we started. I didn't actually get over the trench, I was lucky. All my pals got killed or wounded, gone. There was five of us sort of joined up together. There was myself, a fella named Walker, a fella named Richardson and two brothers named Mellish - they came from Wembley. We sort of palled up and all went around together in the army. Well on the 1st July, I got wounded, Richardson got wounded, young Mellish got through it and Jerry Walker and the eldest Mellish we never heard of, they got killed.

"I should have been in the first wave but I was lucky, I tell you. I was really lucky and I've had my fingers crossed ever since then. I wasn't the only one. Bags of them got wounded just as it started. I saw some of the fellas that came back when we were being seen to and you've never seen such wounds in your life. I've seen some terrible sights but who hasn't in war?"

PS/1491 Private Alfred George Mellish is buried in Hawthorn Ridge Cemetery Number 1 at Auchonvillers. Jerry Walker must be PS/1609 Private Alfred Walker who was killed on this date (the only Walker killed whilst serving with the 16th Middlesex) and who is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. The 16th Middlesex lost seven officers and 155 men killed on 1st July, others would die of their wounds over the days that followed.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, WE WILL REMEMBER THEM.

Friday, June 27, 2008

I've added some links to on the site. To be honest, I'll get some revenue if people click through and subscribe but apart from that, I think that Ancestry provide an excellent service. Living 5000 miles away from the Public Record office, my research would have been greatly hampered had it not been for the ease of access to archives on line.

When I first started researching Chailey, there was barely any on-line resource available. Indeed, I'm pretty sure the term "on-line" had not even been coined. I still remember, a little later, making several trips from Essex to Kew to go through medal index cards - and that was just for the wounded soldiers at Hickwells and Beechlands. I hadn't even begun to contemplate the 370 odd parishioners who served their country.

Today, medal index cards, service records from WO363 and WO364, not to mention census returns for the years 1841 to 1901 and birth / marriage / death information are all available on Ancestry for around seventy pounds a year. Naval service records, officer records and war diaries, to say nothing of Royal Naval Division service records can all be accessed via the National Archives' site. For somebody like me who has researched well over five hundred people and had access to all the above archives and more, a subscription to Ancestry is not just a luxury, it's an essential.

Anyway, that's enough plugging for Ancestry. If you go to the soldier pages now, you'll see that those men for whom service records exist, have that fact noted against their names (well, names A-L currently but the others will follow). Click on that name and once you're in their biography on my site, you'll be able to access their service record directly - terms and conditions applying of course.

Folow the Chailey's Men A-D link here to see what I mean.

John Basil Lee Jellicoe

Ian Seccombe of Chailey has kindly sent me photographs of the grave of John Basil Lee Jellicoe and his wife, Bethia Theodora, in St Peter's churchyard, Chailey. Basil, as he was known, served briefly in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) towards the end of the First World War, but it is his campaigning work in the slums of north London that he is - or certainly was - chiefly remembered for.
Like his father, he was a church of England clergyman, but he died at the young age of 36. His wife outlived him by a quarter of a century.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Hugo Frederick Grantham

Hugo Frederick Grantham, pictured above, was the son of Frederick William Grantham. Born in April 1895, he was killed in action at Gallipoli on 28th June 1915 whilst serving with the 1st Essex Regiment. The battalion had arrived on the peninsular on 24th April that year.

The following extracts are from various publications, the first from page 77 of J.W. Burrows's, Essex Units in the War 1914 – 1919, Vol. 1, 1st Battalion The Essex Regiment:

The 88th Brigade supported an attack on H12 and H12a by the 156th Brigade of the 52nd (Lowland) Division, which was only partially successful, the casualties being very heavy. At 1 p.m. Essex received orders to co-operate with the 5th Royal Scots in again assaulting H12. It proved a task of insuperable difficulty, for the trenches were blocked with wounded and by the remainder of the 156th Brigade coming back. At 4 p.m. an attempt was made to bomb the enemy out by working up the communication trenches, but the outlets were held by snipers. Although impeded in this operation by the trenches being filled with casualties, a further effort was made, but it proved unsuccessful, the enemy pouring a heavy fire on front line trenches and on “No man’s land,” which stretched for 300 yards at this point. The losses included Capt. E. O. Warden, 3rd Essex, and 2nd Lieuts. C.A.B. Wood and H. F. Grantham, 1st Essex, killed, and other ranks, 11 killed, 49 wounded, and 12 missing, believed killed. In this engagement the attacking force wore pieces of biscuit tins on their backs. These shone like helios and enabled the artillery to control the protective screen of shrapnel. The enemy counter-attacked in considerable force in the early hours of the 30th, but the Essex were not seriously involved.

A little over two weeks later, on Friday 16th July 1915, The Essex Weekly News published the following article.

Yesterday it was announced that Lieut. Hugo Frederick Grantham, 1st Essex, was killed in action on June 28. Deceased was born in April 1895 and was the eldest son of Captain F. W. and Mrs. Grantham of Beeleigh Abbey, and Grandson of the late Mr. Justice Grantham. Educated at Cheltenham and Sandhurst, he was gazetted to the Essex Regiment in February of this year.

This from Wisden's Almanac:

2nd Lieut. Hugo Frederick Grantham, (1st Essex Regiment), grandson of the late Mr. Justice Grantham, was killed in action at the Dardanelles on June 28, aged 20. He was a very useful cricketer, playing for the Witham C.C., but did not obtain a place in the Eleven at Cheltenham.

The Times also published an obituary shortly after he was killed..

SECOND LIEUTENANT HUGO FREDERICK GRANTHAM, 1st Essex Regiment, eldest son of Captain F W Grantham and Mrs F W Grantham of Beeleigh Abbey, Essex and grandson of the late Mr Justice Grantham, who was born on April 15 1985, was killed at the Dardanelles on June 28. He was educated at Cheltenham where he obtained his football colours. He was also a very promising cricketer, making his century at an excellent match at the Whitham [sic. It should be Witham] Cricket Club, and carrying out his bat. He was gazetted in March of this year from Sandhurst, and commended for exceptional gallantry and coolness under most trying conditions in the action on June 4 by his colonel, and the Brigadier mentioned him in his dispatch.

Finally, De Ruvigny's also published Hugo's biography - adding additional snippets of information - next to the portrait photograph I have included on this page:

GRANTHAM, HUGO FREDERICK, 2nd Lieut, 1st Batt (44th Foot) Essex Regt. eldest s. of Captain Frederick William Grantham, who was killed in action 9 May 1915 (q.v.); b London W, 15 April 1895; educ at Cheltenham College (Head of House), and Sandhurst; gazetted 2nd Lieut Essex Regt 17 Feb 1915; served with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force at the Dardanelles from end of May, 1915 and was killed in action there 28 June 1915. He was mentioned in Despatches for leading a bombing party, which evicted the Turks out of some British trenches they had taken, unm.

Hugo is buried in Twelve Tree Copse Cemetery about one kilometre south west of the village of Krithia in Turkey. He and his father are commemorated on the war memorials at Barcombe (Sussex) and Maldon (Essex). The photo below shows a detail from the Maldon War memorial.

Frederick William Grantham

The bad quality photo above is that of Captain Frederick William Grantham who was born in South Norwood, Surrey on 10 July 1870. He was the brother of William Wilson Grantham whose biography is included on the Chailey 1914-1918 website. I have not included the biographies of either Frederick or his son Hugo because they were more connected with Barcombe (just outside the Chailey parish boundaries) and Beeleigh in Essex. Nevertheless, both men made the ultimate sacrifice for their King and Country and deserve our remembrance, albeit in a blog entry.

The following information is taken from De Ruvigny’s roll of honour.

GRANTHAM, Capt. Frederick William 2nd Bn Royal Munster Fusiliers. Died 9th May 1915. Son of Sir William Grantham and Emma Grantham, of 100, Eton Square, S.W. and Barcombe Place, Sussex. Joined the volunteers while at Cambridge in 1890 and afterwards the Post Office Rifles in 1893 and the Munster Militia in 1899. Served in the South African War 1900 with the Imperial Yeomanry. Passed into the reserve of Officers 23rd January 1909 but when the European war began was immediately called up and joined the Royal Munster Fusiliers with the rank of Capt. 6th Aug. 1914. Went to the front in France 22nd Sept 1914 and was killed in action near Richebourg L'Avoue 9th May 1915 leading his men in attack on the German trenches early in the morning of that day. He was for three months reported wounded and missing but his body was found by a patrol in August. Panel 43 and 44. His son 2/Lt. Hugo Frederick Grantham also fell and is buried in Twelve Tree Copse Cemetery, Turkey.

The panels referred to above are those on the Le Touret war memorial in France. Obviously, having been found once, Captain Grantham’s body (which we must presume was buried, having been found) was subsequently lost.

On 27th August 1915, The Essex Review wrote:

Captain Frederick William Grantham, Royal Munster Fusiliers, of Beeleigh Abbey, who has been killed in action, was the second son of the late Justice Grantham. Born in July 1870 he was educated at Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge, and called to the bar in 1894, being subsequently appointed Clerk of Assize on the Oxford Circuit. He was a great traveller in the Far East and an authority on eastern philosophy. He received the King’s medal for his services in the South African war. On the outbreak of war he rejoined his regiment, the Royal Munster Fusiliers, with his old rank, and had been serving with it in Flanders since September. He was reported wounded and missing on May 9, and is now reported killed in action. His latest commission was dated August 6, 1914. The deceased officer’s eldest son, Lieutenant Hugo Frederick Grantham, fell in the Dardanelles on June 28 last.

The panel below, commemorating both men, was erected in All Saints church in Maldon in January 1917. Again, The Essex Review covered the event.

Maldon:- All Saints. A memorial tablet is erected in the church to the memory of Captain Frederick William Grantham 2nd Royal Munster Fusiliers, killed near Richebourg L’Avoué 9th May 1915 aged 45, and his elder son, Hugo Frederick Grantham 2/1st Essex Regiment, killed on the Gallipoli Peninsula 28th June 1915 aged 20.

Frederick’s name also appears on the Barcombe (Sussex) and Maldon (Essex) war memorials.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Three Cornford Brothers Go to War

The title of this post is taken from a privately published history of the same name which was recently sent to me by Stan Cornford. Stan's father Tom Cornford and his uncles Trayton Cornford and John Henry Cornford all served during the First World War.

Trayton and Tom both appear to have joined the Lancers at Roeheath, Chailey in September 1914, both men subsequently transferring to the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. Trayton was killed near Serre on the Somme in November 1916 but Tom later transferred to the 1/10th Manchesters, winning the Military Medal in 1918. Tragically, he died in 1933 when his son was only three years old. He is buried in St Peter's churchyard, Chailey.

John Henry Cornford, the third brother, was a pre-war regular artilleryman who served time in India and appears to have served right through the Great War only to die in England in 1920. He is buried at Deepcut in Surrey. So three brothers, three premature deaths, and all are now commemorated on the Chailey 1914-1918 website.

My grateful thanks to Stan for some fascinating correspondence and Cornford family information. Incidentally, none of the brothers was mentioned in Reverend Jellicoe's monthly roll call of local serving men. Although Tom had been born at Chailey and his brothers at Plumpton, the family had probably moved out of the area a good while before the First World War began.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Chailey Green - June 2008

I stopped by Chailey Green last week and took some photos on what was, after a grim May Bank Holiday Monday, a pretty fine June day. The war memorial was, of course, the first shot I took. For those who don't know Chailey, that's the new vicarage behind the memorial. The old vicarage, the one that Reverend Jellicoe inhabited and stood in front of for the photograph that I've included on his page, is now a private residence that appears to be undergoing renovation. On the day we were there, a huge Marks and Spencer lorry reversed past us and into the driveway there.

Row of cottages next to the new vicarage. I don't know their original name and would be pleased to hear from anybody who can advise me on this.

This property lies opposite the war memorial and, beyond that, the cottages in the previous image.

A somewhat overgrown churchyard and a pretty standard shot of St Peter's. Unfortunately the church was locked - as most British churches tend to be these days - but I've been inside before and probably could have gone inside again had I called at the vicarage.

The grave of John Cecil Glossop Pownall. I really didn't have a chance to look around the graveyard properly. As I mentioned, it was overgrown and I also had my two year old daughter (below) in tow. I did however spot John Pownall's grave - and also that of Margaret Blencowe - and paid my respects there. John's brother, Lionel Pownall, was killed during the First World War but he emerged unscathed, serving as a captain with the Royal Field Artillery.

Click on any of the images for a larger version.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ernest Stevens and Alice Pointing

I've added a photo of Ernest Stevens and Alice Pointing (above). The couple were married in 1915 and Ernest would serve with the Salvage Corps after the war had ended. Alice's four brothers all served their King and Country and their mother, also Alice Pointing, worked as a cook with Sussex 54 VAD.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The 5th Leicesters learn bomb throwing

Back in the early 1980s, having recently lost my grandfather and regretting that I'd never spoken to him properly about his own First World War experiences, I decided to set out and interview as many surviving veterans as I could find. My introduction to Chailey happened at this time when I was loaned an autograph album kept by a VAD nurse who'd worked with Sussex 54 VAD in Chailey and Newick. But I was principally interested in meeting the old soldiers and over the next ten years or so I probably interviewed or corresponded with about 100 Great War veterans - mostly in the Chelmsford area where I grew up, and at Loughborough where I went to university. I've recently started re-transcribing these tape-recorded interviews and I'll publish extracts here. As far as Chailey goes, it's slightly off tangent, but it is still WW1 and the old soldier tales are too good not to be shared.

So I'll start with Private Harold Shephard of the 5th Leicesters whom I interviewed in Loughborough in June 1984 when he was 88 years old. Mr Shephard joined the TF in 1911 and by 1915 he was in France. Here he is describing a Mills' bomb training course:

"Before we went to Egypt we had reinforcements come up to us at Marseilles. Now we’d been using the Mills bomb for twelve months near enough in the trenches and all the instructions we’d got were pull the pin out, count three and throw it.

Now in the reinforcements that come out we’d got an instructor as had been instructing on this bomb in England and had never thrown one - not the live thing - he’d thrown the dummy. And he come out to us in Marseilles and
he says, I’ve come out from England to give you instructions on this bomb. So we all said, well what instructions are there? So he said, I’m coming to that in a minute, let me describe what I’ve come out here for, I’m stationed with the regiment now.

So he says, this is a Number 5 Mills’ Bomb. He says, you unscrew the bottom like this and take it off and at the top of that there’s a little detonator - and it’s only like a bit of electric wire and it’s about an inch long like that and curled up and then goes into the bomb. Now he took it out – we didn’t know nowt about this – he took it out and he says, now look, I’m going to tell you what not to do. So I says, he's pulling us bloody leg, you know, and all this that and the other. He gets this detonator out - and it weren’t only about that high - and he gets a little pocket knife and he says, now this is what I don’t want you soldiers to do. And he just touched the top of it and off went three of his fingers.

He’d been using the dummies in England but as soon as he got out here he was playing with the live stuff. We all said, fancy a bloody man coming out like that and telling us this when we’d been using them for twelve months.

Harold Shephard died in Loughborough in 1988 at the age of 92.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Alice Pointing and Ernest Stevens

Thanks to correspondence from a relative I've been able to fill in additional detail for Alice Pointing and Ernest Stevens (who has languished on my site as E F Stevens for the past two years).

I had always assumed that the Alice Pointing noted as serving as a cook with Sussex 54 VAD was the sister of Frank, George, James and William Pointing. In all likelihood however, it appears that it was in fact their mother. I have made this point on Alice's page.

Alice junior however, married Ernest Frank Stevens in December 1915 and so I am pleased, finally, to be able to reproduce his name in full and also to add additional detail to his page. Two years after initially publishing my research on-line, these small titbits coming through continue to fascinate as well, of course, as building a greater picture of Chailey's protagonists during those Great war years.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Richard William Gibson

I've updated the page for Richard Gibson and added him as another Great War fatality. Chailey Parish Magazine doesn't have an awful lot to say about him. He's mentioned as serving his King and Country in 1914 but by December 1916 he disappears altogether.

Whilst I can't be sure, I feel fairly confident that this man is the same Richard William Gibson who lost his life in September 1916 whilst serving with the 2nd Royal Sussex Regiment. He was a regular soldier (enlisting circa 1904) and an Old Contemptible, having arrived in France at the end of August 1914.

Richard has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial on the Somme. His name does not appear on the Chailey War Memorial or on the memorial at Hailsham where he was born.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Arthur Hamilton Boyd

The image above was sent to me this morning and shows a slightly blurred Reverend Arthur Hamilton Boyd in 1948. His medal ribbons can clearly be seen.

Medal cards on-line

I noticed today that Ancestry have put the WW1 medal cards on-line. This will be an enormous boon to WW1 researchers not only because the information becomes far more easily accessible, searchable and ultimately cheaper than the information you get direct from the National Archives, but also because the Ancestry photographer has helpfully taken a shot of the back of the card as well. In most instances the back will be blank, but some, like the attached card for my great uncle, Alfred Arthur Nixon, show an address and details of correspondence.

All images are Crown copyright of course, but as this is a non commercial blog and this post is written with the intention of informing and educating, I hope HM will forgive me and not send me to the Tower on this occasion.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

69th and 84th Garo Labour Companies

This is most definitely off-topic as far as Chailey is concerned, but in a shining example of shameless self-promotion (aimed as much at search engines as humans), I am flagging up another WW1 website which I have just launched.

The 69th and 84th Garo Labour Companies website is a small Freewebs site which commemorates the men of these two north east Indian labour corps companies during the First World War. A memorial in Tura, (then in the state of Assam, now in Meghalaya), commemorates the 55 labourers who did not return.

As far as Chailey is concerned, I hope to be able to correct the record of another of Chailey's men very soon. I have been in touch with a relative and all being well will be updating the relevant page during the coming week.

Monday, January 07, 2008

William Horace Simmons

William Horace Simmons was another old Chailey soldier overlooked by the Reverend Jellicoe in his monthly roll call of serving parishioners. He originally attested with the 21st Hussars in 1893 and his early service record makes fascinating reading.

Despite brushes with authority, William saw a good deal of service abroad. He was in the “East Indies” (India) between 8th March 1894 and 23rd October 1896 and then went straight to Egypt until 11th November 1899. He was home in England briefly between November 1899 and February 1900 but then sailed for South Africa on 13th March that year to fight the Boers. He returned home on 15th July 1900 (presumably as a result of sickness or wounds) and was discharged in 1901. He was entitled to the Queen’s South Africa Medal.

He enlisted for a second time on 22nd October 1914, this time signing up with the Military Mounted Police at Aldershot and served with this regiment until his discharge from the army on 15th August 1917.

I am surmising that the reason for William’s omission in Chailey Parish Magazine was due to him having moved out of the immediate area many years before. I am happy to remember him at last on the Chailey website.

Fletching British Legion - women's section

Thanks to Geoff Isted in Sussex I've been able to add tiny snippets to two more records. James Brazier and Percy Ireland both served their King and Country during WW1. James was killed in action in March 1918 whilst serving with the Royal Garrison Artillery but Percy survived (albeit with a head wound) and returned to his wife and children in Fletching.

In 1926, James's sister and Percy's wife both joined the women's branch of Fletching British Legion (the Royal had not been added at this point in time), and I am grateful to Geoff for digging out this additional information.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Victor George Ashford - a brief war

Victor George Ashford was born about 1900 in Newick. He appears on the 1901 census as the youngest child of James Thomas Ashford (a fishmonger) and his wife Jane. Three other children are also noted.

Victor's service record more rightly belongs on a Newick commemoration site as he lived at Colonels Bank, Newick. However, his service record notes Colonels Bank as being in Chailey and so I am more than happy to add his name to the Chailey parish roll call.