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.