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.

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