Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A V Martin

A V Martin - Albert Victor Martin

The other day, when remembering Chailey's men at Loos, I noticed that I hadn't added detail about Private A V Martin's army number. Army numbers can often tell you a lot about a soldier, which is why I've dedicated many hours to working on a separate Army Service Numbers project.

In A V Martin's case, his number L/10421, indicates that he joined up in August 1914 and joined as a career soldier with the Royal Sussex Regiment. That is to say, he joined up for a period of seven years with the Colours and five on the Reserve. We know this because that particular number sequence for the Royal Sussex Regiment was reserved for men who wished to enlist as career soldiers. Had Albert Martin joined up for war-time service only, his number would have been prefixed with SD/ (if he'd joined the 11th, 12th or 13th (the 1st, 2nd and 3rd South Down) battalions, and if the SD/ number series had reached as high as 10421 - which it didn't), or G/ if he'd joined another Royal Sussex Regiment service battalion.

The links I've given in the last paragraph will take you to posts that give more detail on numbering in these Royal Sussex Regiment battalions. Albert Padgham of Chailey (seated above) also joined the Royal Sussex Regiment under regular enlistment terms and you can read more about him by clicking on his name.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Loos - 25th September 1915

Remembering today, the men of Britain who took part in the Battle of Loos, and in particular John Oliver of Chailey who was killed on this day in 1915.

Today marks the 94th anniversary of the Battle of Loos and a number of Chailey's men were certainly involved in the fighting; amongst these Charles Bristow (2nd Royal Sussex), Albert Martin (2nd Royal Sussex) and John Oliver (10th Royal Sussex).

So too were soldier patients who would later recuperate at Hickwells on Cinder Hill; amongst these Edward Burnage (2nd Royal Sussex), William Chadwick (7th KOSB), John Currie (10th Gordon Highlanders), George Lucas (8th Royal West Kent), Arthur Reeve (8th KOSB), John Sheridan (12th Northumberland Fusiliers), James Sweeney (13th Royal Scots) and Horace Wood (8th Royal West Kent and pictured above, post 1916).

Tomorrow I'll look at another man with Chailey connections who was killed in action on the 26th September 1915. But in the meantime, today is the day to reflect and remember the 9,661 British soldiers who were killed in action or died of wounds on this black day in September 1915.

Also see today's WW1 Remembrance post.

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

Friday, September 18, 2009

G/16155 John Wilfred Mitchell, 12th Royal Sussex Regiment

Chailey Parish Magazine first notes John Mitchell serving his King and Country in its March 1915 issue. In October 1915 it states, Mitchell, Lance-Corporal J, 2/4th Royal Sussex, England and in November 1916 updates this information to report that he is in France. This latter information is certainly incorrect as the 2/4th Battalion, formed at Horsham in January 1915, remained in England throughout the war until disbanded in November 1917. He probably went overseas as a 2/4th Battalion man and was posted, on arrival there, to the 1/4th Battalion.

John Mitchell appears to have served throughout the war, his name appearing up to and including the final published roll call in July 1919.  His medal index card notes two army numbers for him: 2170 and G/16155.

G/16155 belongs to a block of numbers issued to men who joined the Southdown battalions in France and John Mitchell's entry in the British War and Victory medal roll confirms that he was posted to the 12th battalion. Later on, he was posted again, this time to the 8th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment.

He is probably the same John Mitchell who was the fourth eldest child in a family of nine children (eight of them boys). His parents, Charles and Emily Mitchell, were married in 1880 and by the time the 1881 census was taken they were living at 1 Upper Birchland, Newick. Both were aged 22 with Charles (born in Lindfield) working as an agricultural labourer.

Ten years on, by the time the 1891 census was taken, Charles and Emily were living at what looks like Plummers Den Cottage No 1 in Lindfield and had five children: Charles Mitchell (aged nine), Henry J Mitchell (aged eight), Alfred Thomas Mitchell (aged six), John Mitchell (aged three) and Albert Basil Mitchell (aged eleven months).

By the time the 1901 census was taken the family was still living at the same Lindfield address but there were now more brothers – and a sister. New arrivals and their ages in 1901 were: Elsie Mitchell (aged seven), Walter Mitchell (aged five), Wallace Sidney Mitchell (aged four) and Maurice Gilbert Mitchell (aged nine months).

John Mitchell’s brothers Albert, Alfred, Henry, Wallace (Sidney) and Maurice, also served during the First World War. All of them survived. Their distant relatives, the Plummer brothers were less fortunate. Albert, Alexander and Owen Plummer all lost their lives.