Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Lieutenant Quartermaster William Ellis, attached Royal Flying Corps

William Ellis first makes an appearance in Chailey’s Parish Magazine in March 1915 when it is noted that he is serving his King and Country.  In October 1915 he is noted as Ellis, Quarter Master Sergeant W, 2nd Royal West Kent, England and in March 1916 as Ellis, Warrant Officer W, 2nd Royal West Kent, England. 

In December 1917 the magazine notes that he is attached to the RFC and this information is then repeated up to and including the final published roll call in July 1919. 

There is only really one possibility listed at The National Archives and that is 4239 Warrant Officer Class 2, William Ellis of the Royal West Kent Regiment.  He is also noted as Warrant Officer Class 2 with the Middlesex Regiment. A Training Reserve Battalion number is also given (TR/10/40004).   

William certainly had Newick connections and attended the village school there from 1882.  Later, during the First World War, the headmaster, John Oldaker, compiled notes on his serving ex pupils and asked each of them to send him a photo.  The photo of William reproduced on this page was the one which he sent his old headmaster, and John Oldaker also added the following notes:

William G Ellis
Enlisted 10th Sept 1894, Royal West Kent Regt; still in the army at the outbreak of the War having served in many parts of the world. King’s and Queen’s South Africa medals and clasps.  Came to England from India, October 1914 as colour sergeant. Promoted company sergeant major, October 1914.  Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant, May 1915.  Gazetted lieutenant 25th August 1917. Quartermaster RFC at Yatesbury, Wilts. Transferred to 53rd Royal Sussex Regiment.  To Germany 28th Feb 1919.  Demobbed 28th June 1919.
My thanks to Simon Stevens for the information and photograph from John Oldaker's collection.

240819 Cpl Frank Ford, 5th Royal Sussex Regiment

Chailey Parish Magazine notes in March 1915 that Frank Ford is serving his King and Country.  In October 1915 it reports, Ford, Private F, 5th Royal Sussex, England following this up in November with the information that he is now in France.  In November 1916 his rank is noted as lance-corporal and In July 1918, corporal. 

Frank served continuously from March 1915 until the final published roll call in Chailey’s parish magazine in July 1919.  The National Archives lists two numbers for him: 5/3110 and 240819 (the new number he was assigned when the Territorial Force was re-numbered in 1917).  He almost certainly enlisted with Erle Bristow of Chailey as the two men’s numbers are virtually identical.  Erle’s numbers with the 5th Royal Sussex were 5/3109 and later, 240818. 

The 1901 census of England and Wales notes a 13 year old Frank Ford living in Chailey village with his widowed mother Elizabeth Ford (aged 55 and earning a living through cleaning – or “charing”)  and two brothers: John Ford (aged 15) and George C Ford (aged 26).  All three sons are noted as agricultural labourers and all three are noted as having been born in Chailey.  

Frank and John Ford were cousins of Archie, Ashley, Aubrey and Harry Tapp (Elizabeth Ford’s maiden name was Tapp and she was the sister of the Tapp Brothers’ father, Joseph).  A John Ford also appears in Chailey’s parish magazine as does an F Ford and either or both of these men may be related to Frank Ford and/or the Tapp brothers.
Frank Ford's partial; service record survives as a burnt document in WO 363. Possibly the most interesting paper amongst those that survive is a letter from Frank's employer, Albert Turner & Son, timber merchants of Nutley, Uckfield. This badly damaged single page, sent to the Ministry of Labour and requesting Frank's discharge from the army confirms that he worked as a sawyer with the company before 4th August 1914 and cites him as a corporal serving with No 13 platoon, D Company, 5th Royal Sussex Regiment.

Private P Fermor, Bedfordshire Regiment

Chailey Parish Magazine notes Fermor, Private P, 53rd Bedfordshire Regiment in its July 1918 issue and his information is then repeated up to and including the final published roll call in July 1919. 

The 53rd Bedfordshire Regiment was a young soldiers’ battalion formed in late October 1917.  At the time Private Fermor was with the battalion it was based at Cannock Chase, Staffordshire. Nothing else is known about this man.

Ernest James Fenn

Chailey Parish Magazine lists Ernest James Fenn only once and this is in a special list of attested men published in January 1916.

Ernest was born at Fletching, Sussex around 1868, his birth registered in the district of Uckfield in the March quarter of that year. He appears on the 1881 census living with his family at 4, Camden Crescent, Dover. The household comprised Edwin Fenn (head, married, aged 42, a Colchester born General Medical Practitioner), his wife Alice Anne (or Annie) Fenn (aged 42, born in Ardleigh, Essex) and five children: Ernest (aged 13), Edwin Anthony Fenn (aged 11), Alice Kathleen Fenn (aged four), William C Fenn (aged four) and Leonard H Fenn (aged one). The two older boys had been born in Fletching (as had a sixth child, Grace Fenn, born about 1870); the other children had all been born in Dover. Lending a hand at the house were 18 year old Alice Watson, a general servant and 14 year old Ellen McPay, a nursemaid.

In 1891 Ernest is noted as a 25 year old servant working at a hotel at 24/25 Arlington Street, Piccadilly, London. His trade is given as “Institute Electrical Engineers” which presumably means that he – and another man who has the same occupation listed – was the resident electrician there.

By 1901 Ernest was working as a baker and confectioner and Living at Maltravers Street, Arundel with his wife and three children. By the time the 1911 census was taken, the now 44-year-old Ernest was working as a baker and confectioner working from home at 12 Boundary Road, Hove, Sussex.

It seems reasonable to assume that Ernest was not called to the colours on account of his age. He would have been about 48 in January 1916, well past the upper age limit of 41 for men who were compelled to enlist under the Military Service Act of 27th January 1916. I am unsure where Ernest was living in 1916; quite possibly in Hove still, but his sisters Jessie and Kathleen Fenn were certainly living within or close to Chailey Parish boundaries and were active members of Sussex 54 VAD.

William Faulkner

Chailey resident Reg Philpott remembers that William Faulkner used to be “a tailor down on the Green.  He used to sit there with his legs crossed and do all his sewing.  Mary Izzard worked for him.” 

Chailey Parish Magazine mentions him in a special list of attested men published between January and April 1916.  In January 1916 he appears as W Faulkner and in April 1916 as William Faulkner.  Nothing else is known about this man.

28249 Private Frank Farnden, 15th Hampshire Regt

Chailey Parish Magazine first notes that Frank Farnden is serving his King and Country in its October 1914 issue. A year later, that information is updated to note that he is a private serving with the 8th Field Bakery in France. His name is also mis-spelt as Farndon.

In January 1917, Chailey Parish Magazine notes that Frank Farnden is now with the 13th Field Bakery and this is updated in December 1917 to note that he is serving with the 15th Hampshire Regiment. It is this latter information which appears on Frank Farnden’s medal index card at the National Archives where he is recorded as 28249 Private Frank Farnden, Hampshire Regt.

A search of the 1901 census reveals two individuals called Frank Farnden, one of these with Sussex connections. He is 14 year old Frank Farnden, born in Woodford Green, Essex but living at Valetta, De Chem Road, Hastings with his family. The household comprised Eva Farnden, head (aged 40), a widow living on her means and her three sons: Frank, Herbert A (aged 13) and Kenneth (aged 11). There was also a parlour maid, Kate S Parfield (aged 27).

Pte G Evans

Chailey Parish Magazine mentions Private Evans briefly.  Between February and December 1917 he is noted simply as Evans, Private G, 148 BEF.  I know nothing else about this man.

101822 Gunner George Masters Emery, Royal Horse Artillery

George Masters Emery was born in Crawley in 1894, his birth recorded at Horsham in the June quarter of that year.  He appears on the 1901 census of England and Wales living at Fay Gate Road, Rusper, West Sussex with his family.  The family comprised: Michael Emery (head, aged 47, working as a flower pot maker), his wife Maria Louisa Emery (aged 47) and their children: Harry Emery (aged 16, working as a carter boy on a farm), Emily Emery (aged 11), Annie Emery (aged nine), George (aged six) and Arthur Ernest Emery (aged four). 

There were other children too.  The 1891 census shows the family living at High Brook, West Hoathly, Sussex. Children (and their ages in 1891) not noted above are: Francis W Emery (aged 10), Maud M Emery (aged eight), Ada H Emery (aged six), and Blanche Emery (aged two).  Henry Emery (George Masters’ grandfather), a 75 year old widower, was also living at the house. 

Chailey Parish Magazine first mentions George Emery in July 1916, noting: Emery, Gnr G M, RHA, France.  In fact he had already been in France for a year by the time this information appeared.  His medal information card at the National Archives states that 101822 Gunner George M Emery of the Royal Horse Artillery arrived in France and Flanders on 21st July 1915. 

The Commonwealth War Graves’ Commission (CWGC) notes that George died of wounds on Friday 15th December 1916 aged 22.  He is buried in the north eastern corner of Chessington St Mary Churchyard, Surrey.  CWGC also notes on its Debt of Honour Register, that he was the son of Michael and Maria Louisa Emery of Lancers Cottages, Colgate, Horsham. 

The Reverend Jellicoe was certainly kept informed of events.  In the January 1917 edition of the  parish magazine, his details were added to the growing Roll of Honour: Gnr G M Emery, RHA, died of wounds, Dec 15th 1916.  There is no mention of him in Soldiers Died in The Great War. 

George's brother Arthur Ernest Emery also served his King and Country during the First World War.

L6372 Officer's Steward Arthur Ernest Emery, HMS Verulam

According to Arthur Emery’s surviving service papers, he was born on 24th March 1896 at Crawley in Sussex (although his birth wasn’t registered until the March quarter the following year at Cuckfield).  The 1901 census gives his place of birth as Slaugham, Sussex. 

He appears on that census living at Fay Gate Road, Rusper, West Sussex with his family.  The family comprised: Michael Emery (head, aged 47, working as a flower pot maker), his wife Maria Louisa Emery (aged 47) and their children: Harry Emery (aged 16, working as a carter boy on a farm), Emily Emery (aged 11), Annie Emery (aged nine), George Masters Emery (aged six) and Arthur (aged four).  

There were other children too.  The 1891 census shows the family living at High Brook, West Hoathly, Sussex. Children (and their ages in 1891) not noted above are: Francis W Emerey (aged 10), Maud M Emery (aged eight), Ada H Emery (aged six), and Blanche Emery (aged two).  Henry Emery (George Masters’ grandfather), a 75 year old widower, was also living at the house. 

He joined the Royal Navy at Chatham, Kent on 24th February 1915 giving his occupation as footman.  He was five feet seven inches tall, had brown hair, blue eyes and a fresh complexion.  He was given the Navy number L6372, the rating of officer’s steward 3rd Class and sent to HMS Pembroke (the shore base at Chatham). 

He remained at Chatham until 15th April when he was posted to HMS Biarritz where he remained until 27th November 1916.  During this period he was promoted to officer’s steward 2nd class (12th October 1915) and also spent seven days in the cells. 

Chailey Parish Magazine first mentions him in July 1916, noting: Emery, A E, Officer’s Steward, HMS Biaritz (and correcting the spelling in November 1916 to Biarritz).   

Between 28th November and 22nd December 1916 he was stationed at Chatham (HMS Pembroke I) prior to being posted to HMS Pigeon on the 23rd December.  He remained with this ship until 8th November 1917 when a further spell at Chatham (9th November to10th December 1917) preceded what would be his final posting; this time to HMS Verulam aboard which he would serve until demobbed on 22nd August 1919. 

Arthur was awarded a good conduct badge on 5th December 1918.  His brother George Masters Emery, also mentioned in Chailey Parish Magazine, died of wounds in England on 15th December 1916.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

241664 Pte Charles Dudman, 8th Middx Regt

C Dudman first appears in Chailey Parish Magazine in June 1916 where he is noted as: Dudman, Pte C, 3/8th Royal Sussex, England.  In August 1918 he appears as Private C Dudman, 8th Middlesex and it is also noted that he has been wounded.  His final entry is in the July 1919 issue of the parish magazine which repeats the previous information, namely: Dudman, Pte C, 8th Middlesex.  Wounded. 

Chailey resident Reg Philpott remembers a Charlie Dudman and there are two possibilities for Charles Dudman amongst the medal index cards at the National Archives in Kew.  The first is 241664 Private Charles Dudman of the Middlesex Regiment, formerly 6143.  The second is G/19527 Private Charles R Dudman of the Royal Sussex Regiment.  

The number 241664 falls within the batch of numbers allotted to the 8th Middlesex Regiment when this Territorial Force Battalion was renumbered in early 1917.  This suggests that Charles did not actually serve abroad until then; information that is consistent with his entry in the parish magazine as serving with the third line formation of the 8th Middlesex in 1916.  
The medal index card above is of the type that was primarily intended for silver war badge recipients, the actual medal entitlement recorded by way of a stamp rather than pre-printed forethought. Nevertheless, from this alone we can see that Charles was discharged as a result of wounds, whilst his entry in the silver war badge roll gives us a date of enlistment: 6th March 1916. We also see date of discharge on the same roll, 21st September 1918.

The 1911 census only really records one possibility for Charles Dudman and that is the 16-year-old born in Hamsey, Sussex and living with his parents and siblings at 42 Beechwood Lane, Offham, Lewes. Charles's trade is listed as "cowman".

Sunday, November 30, 2014

25752 Private Henry Stephen Daniel Downing, 1st East Surrey Regt

Henry Stephen Daniel Downing was born in the county of Berkshire in 1884, his birth recorded at Newbury in the September quarter of that year.   

He appears on the 1891 census as a six year old living at 62 Albany Road, Reading with his parents and siblings.  The household comprised Henry Downing senior, a 33 year old joiner and fitter from Pangbourne, Berkshire, his 27 year old Irish-born wife Mary J Downing and their three children: Henry Stephen Daniel, Florence E (aged four) and Arthur (aged two).  There was also a boarder: Maud Piggott (aged 12). 

By the time the 1901 census was taken the family had moved to 68 Belmont Road where Henry senior’s occupation is noted as “cycle engineer”.  Four more children had appeared since the 1891 census was taken and the household now comprised Henry and his wife and their seven children: Henry Stephen Daniel (aged 16 and working as a butcher), Florence (aged 14), Arthur (aged 12), Violet May (aged nine), Lilian Mary (aged six), Rose Gladys (aged four) and Beatrice (aged eight months). 

Henry Downing’s badly burnt service record exists at the National Archives in London and from this it is possible to piece together some of his service record.  He attested on 11th December 1915 and was placed on the army reserve the following day.

Living at Newick when he attested, Henry Downing gave his aged as 31 years and 62 days, his “Trade or Calling” as insurance agent and his marital status as widower.  A Baptist by religion, he had married Annie Jane (surname unknown) at Newick Parish church on 25th April 1911 and was the father of two girls: Queenie Lilian (born at Steyning, Sussex on 25th March 1912) and Gladys Annie May (also born at Steyning on 28th December 1913).  It is uncertain, at this point of time, when Annie Jane Downing died.

He was mobilized at Chichester on 1st June 1916 and posted to the Royal Sussex Regiment depot the following day.  On the 8th July he got married for a second time; to Daisy Heasman, sister of Albert, Frederick and Gilbert Heasman who are also remembered on this blog. Daisy would later bear him a third daughter, Winifred May, born on 5th June 1917 at Lewes. 

On 1st September, Henry was posted to the 3rd (reserve) Battalion and posted again (to the 14th Battalion) on the 24th October.  On 7th November 1916 he was posted to the 1st East Surrey Regiment in France and it was while serving with them that he was captured at Fresnoy on 8th May 1917. He was held at Dulmen PoW camp and. between 9th January 1918 and 11th January 1919, Merseburg.

Chailey Parish Magazine first notes Henry Downing in its July 1917 issue, recording that Pte H S D Downing is missing.  In September, it notes that he is a prisoner and in January 1918 that he is serving with the 1st East Surrey Regiment and is a prisoner.  That information is then repeated up to and including the final published role in July 1919. 

Chailey resident Mick Pateman remembers after the war, Harry Downing obviously picked up from where he had left off as Mick Pateman remembers him working for The Prudential and coming round on his bike to collect “tuppence a week” from people. 

The National Archives notes two numbers for Henry Downing:  6556 was his number when with the Royal Sussex Regiment and 25752 when he transferred to the East Surreys.  Henry Downing received the British War and Victory medals. My thanks to Jim Type for information and also the photo reproduced on this post.

Thomas Divall, Royal Engineers

Thomas David Divall was born in Ringmer, Sussex in late 1878 or early 1879, his birth being registered at Lewes in the March quarter of 1879.  He appears on the 1881 census of England and Wales living at Blunt Lane, Ringmer with his parents Thomas Divall (a 24 year old farm labourer from Ringmer), his mother, 23 year old Fanny Divall and his sister Jane Divall (aged three months).  Thomas’ age is recorded as two.

Ten years later, the family has moved to Norlington Lane, Ringmer and has grown considerably.  It now comprises Thomas and Fanny Divall (aged 35 and 34) and their seven children: Kate (aged 14), Thomas (aged 12), William (aged nine), Fanny (aged six), Frederick (aged four), Earnest [sic] (aged two) and Edith (aged one).  Jane (Harriet) Divall does not appear on the census having died in infancy aged one year old.  Her death was recorded in the March quarter for 1882 at Lewes.

I been unable to find a convincing match for Thomas Divall on the 1901 census of England & Wales.  Thomas would have been 22.  There is a 24 year old Ringmer-born Thomas Divall listed, living as a boarder at 160 Brassington Road, Paddington, West London and working as a bricklayer but I am not convinced that this is the same man.

Chailey Parish Magazine first notes T D Divall as one of several specially attested men in its January 1916 issue but he does not then re-appear until December 1917 when it is noted that Sapper T Divall is serving with the Royal Engineers.  This information is then repeated up to and including the final published roll call of Chailey-connected men in July 1919.

There is a medal index card for a Thomas Divall, giving the regimental number WR/327459. and this is possibly the same man.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

GS/10396 and L10156 Trooper Harry Bird,16th Lancers

Harry Bird was the brother of Alfred Bird and was born at Heacham, near King’s Lynn, Norfolk on 12th February 1886.  He was the second child and eldest son of John and Mary Bird and appears on the 1901 census living with his family at Heacham.  John Bird, born at Shouldham, Norfolk, was the 40 year old head of the family and working as a labourer at a brickyard.  His wife, 37 year old Mary, had been born at Thornham, Norfolk.  The couple had seven children with them at the time: Harry (aged 15, working as a house boy), Celia Bird (aged 12), Mary (aged 11), John Bird (aged six), Alfred (aged four), Lydia Bird (aged two) and Edward C Bird (aged under one month).  All of the children were born at Heacham.  Alfred’s older sister Alberta Bird (born in October 1883) does not appear on this census return.  Another brother, Charles, born in September 1892, had died in May 1896 and is buried at Heacham.  A tenth child, Robert Bird, would be born in September 1903. 

Harry probably moved to Chailey around 1908 or 1909.  His brief obituary, published in Chailey’s parish magazine in 1927 makes reference to the fact that he had been known in the parish for close to twenty years.  He gained employment working as a groom at Bineham House, Chailey, home to the Blencowe family.  Harry was one of two grooms reporting to the coachman.  The undated photo taken at Bineham (below) is possibly of Harry. 

He married Mabel Eliza Worth around 1916.  She had been a second housemaid at Ades (home to the Ingram, Pownall and latterly Wright families) in Chailey and it is believed that the couple may have met through attending services at St Peter’s Church.  Their marriage though took place not in Sussex but in Hampshire, being registered at Petersfield District in the June quarter of 1916. Harry must have been on leave at the time as Chailey Parish Magazine, which first noted in October 1914 that he was serving his King and Country, reported in October 1915 that he was serving with the 17th Lancers in France.  The magazine gives his rank as Trooper although this is technically incorrect as this was the rank within the Household Cavalry and was not extended to the line cavalry regiments until about 1921. 

The National Archives’ medal index card for Harry Bird shows that he served only with the 16th Lancers and not the 17th.  He had two numbers however: GS/10396 and latterly L/10156. In February 1916 the Parish magazine reports (correctly) that Harry is serving with the 16th Lancers in France and this information is repeated up until the final entry for him in December 1917.   

Harry Bird came through the First World War unscathed and was discharged to Class ‘Z’ A. Reserve on 18th February 1919.  In 1921, Mabel gave birth to twins – Gladys Lillian and Leslie Alfred – Leslie’s middle name given in honour of his dead uncle Alfred Bird who had been killed at Arras four years earlier.  

The undated photo at the top of this page shows Harry and Mabel Bird presumably while Harry was on leave.  The couple’s wedding rings can be seen so this must date the photograph to around 1916 or later.  Mabel is wearing black and Harry’s second button on his khaki tunic is also blackened.  It’s possible that they were in mourning for Harry’s brother Alfred but this is only conjecture.   

Harry died in March 1927 after contracting Encephalitis Lethargica and he was buried in St Peter’s Church graveyard, Chailey. The following month the Parish Magazine marked his death with the following entry: - 

“OUR SYMPATHY. – By the passing of Harry Bird after a long and wearisome illness bravely and patiently borne, we have lost one who has been well known to most of us in Chailey for nearly twenty years. He served in the cavalry (16th Lancers) during the War, and for some years was a regular bell-ringer at our Parish Church. At his funeral ex-servicemen acted as bearers, and a muffled peal was rung that evening.” 

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stoke, “Encephalitis lethargica is a disease characterised by high fever, headache, double vision, delayed physical and mental response, and lethargy. In acute cases, patients may enter coma. Patients may also experience abnormal eye movements, upper body weakness, muscular pains, tremors, neck rigidity, and behavioural changes including psychosis. The cause of encephalitis lethargica is unknown. Between 1917 and 1928, an epidemic of encephalitis lethargica spread throughout the world, but no recurrence of the epidemic has since been reported.” 

Some time after Harry’s death, possibly in the early 1930s, Mabel Bird married Charles Jenner.  They had no children together but between them brought up the children of their first marriages, the twins Leslie and Gladys, and Charles’ son Bernard. They lived for many years at Knights Cottages, South Street, South Chailey. Charles Jenner died in the late 1960s and Mabel continued living there until 1971 when she had to move to a nursing home in Uckfield. She died in early 1972. 

My thanks to Harry Bird's great nephew, Derek Bird, for contacting me and providing me with additional information about Harry and Alfred Bird and Charles Jenner. I have quoted extensively from the information he supplied.


L8067 Trooper Alfred Bird, 3rd Dragoon Guards

Alfred Bird was born at Heacham, Norfolk, around 1896.  He appears on the 1901 census of England and Wales, living with his family at Heacham.  John Bird, born at Shouldham, Norfolk, was the 40 year old head of the family and working as a labourer at a brickyard.  His wife, 37 year old Mary, had been born at Thornham, Norfolk.  The couple had seven children with them at the time: Harry Bird (aged 15, working as a house boy), Celia Bird (aged 12), Mary (aged 11), John Bird (aged six), Alfred (aged four), Lydia Bird (aged two) and Edward C Bird (aged under one month).  All of the children were born at Heacham. 

Before the war, Alfred moved down from Norfolk to join his brother at Chailey.  He enlisted at Roeheath, Chailey giving his place of residence as King’s Lynn although he was actually working as a footman at Bineham (home to the Blencowe family).  According to Chailey Parish Magazine, he served first with the 17th Lancers and up until October 1915 at least, was stationed with them in England.  By October 1916 however, he was serving with the 3rd Dragoon Guards in France.  His army number – 8067 – is that of the Dragoon Guards. 

Alfred was killed in action on 11th April 1917 at the battle of Arras and is commemorated on bay one of the Arras Memorial.  The East Sussex News reported his death in its issue of Friday 4th May 1917.  The same month, Chailey Parish Magazine added his name to its role of honour.
My thanks to Derek Bird for much interesting correspondence on Alfred and Harry Bird.

MT/322426 Private Sidney Best, Army Service Corps

Sidney Best was born in Hamsey, Sussex but living in Chailey when he attested with the Army Service Corps under the Derby Scheme on 4th December 1915.  He gave his address as the 5 Bells, Chailey, his occupation as innkeeper and his age as 39 years and 11 months. Fanny Best his wife, is noted as his next of kin.  He had married her in 1901 and the couple had two daughters: Mabel Agnes Smith (born 17th September 1905 at Cuckfield) and Mildred Edith Smith (born 28th January 1914 at Lewes). 

Sidney was posted to the Army Service Corps on 18th May 1917 and joined the Motor Transport Reserve Depot at Grove Park, London the following day.  He was given the number MT/322426.  By this stage he appears to have changed professions as documents from this date note his trade as cab and motor proprietor. 

He qualified as a Heavy Lorry Driver on 13th April 1918 and exactly one week later, embarked at Southampton aboard the Queen Alexandra.  He arrived at Havre the following day and was attached to Number 1076 MT Company. 

On 23rd May 1918 he transferred to 19th Corps Troops MT Coy and he was still serving with this company when he was demobilised on 14th March 1919.  A medical examination five weeks earlier in France noted his address as Heatherwood, North Common, Chailey.

During his time in France, Sidney was employed as a Ford Car Driver and Army Form W.3226 noted that he showed aptitude for employment in civil life as a car driver. 

Back in Blighty, Chailey Parish Magazine had listed Sidney amongst a number of specially attested men in its March 1916 issue.  In July 1917, Best, Pte S, ASC MT appeared in the roll of men serving their King and Country and this detail was repeated continuously up to and including the final roll call in July 1919.  On 11th June 1917 he also got a mention in The Times: 

Mr Best, a cab proprietor of Chailey, Sussex, having joined the Army, Mrs Jellicoe, wife of the Reverend Thomas Harry Lee Jellicoe, rector of Chailey, and cousin of Admiral Jellicoe, has volunteered to act as driver for Mrs Best while her husband is away. One of her first “fares” was Mrs Coplestone [sic], wife of the late Bishop of Calcutta. 

Mrs Copleston was the mother of Reginald Trench Copleston who also served during the First World War. 

Chailey resident Reg Philpott remembers that Sidney Best continued his taxi cab business in Chailey until well after the war had ended.

Lt Henry Douglas Bessemer, 4th Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment)

Henry Douglas Bessemer was born at Taunton, Somerset on 12th November 1894 and his birth was registered at Taunton in the December quarter of that year.  He appears on the 1901 census of England and Wales at Sarisbury Court, Sarisbury which is situated between Fareham and Southampton in Hampshire. 

The household comprised: William Garton (head, aged 33, a brewer) his wife, Edith A Garton (aged 29) and their children William D Garton (aged five) and James R Garton (aged 2).  Also there at the time the census was taken were William Garton’s 53 year old mother-in-law, his six year old nephew, Henry D Bessemer (aged six) and twelve servants. 

Henry came from an affluent family.  He was a descendant of Sir Henry Bessemer (1813 – 1898) who built the Bessemer Steel Works at Sheffield and began production there in 1859.  Sir Henry invented the Bessemer Process, a patented industrial process for the manufacture of steel from molten pig iron which speeded that process up ten times and made him a small fortune as a result.  Sir Henry was knighted in 1859.  

By the time the First World War began, Henry was living at Burchetts, albeit studying at Oxford University.  Today, there are no members of the Bessemer family left in Chailey but in 1914 the estate was sizeable. 

Henry Bessemer’s service record exists at the National Archives in London and from it we can see that he first applied for a commission in the Territorial Force on 20th February 1915.  He indicated that prior to coming up to Oxford, he had been educated at Winchester College, leaving there in July 1912.  He had served in the OTC there as a private and was currently serving as a private with Oxford University OTC.  Bessemer’s application was recommended by a 2nd lieutenant in the Royal West Surrey Regiment and seven days later he signed a declaration that, as far as he knew, he was not “suffering from any mental or bodily infirmity or physical imperfection or disability.” 

On 3rd March 1915, Colonel Frank D Watney (Commanding 2/4th Queens RWS) of 16 Sheet Street, Windsor, wrote to The Secretary of the Surrey Territorial Force Association, Caxton House, Westminster stating: 

“I enclose two Army Forms E536 and necessary papers with respect to the applications of the following gentlemen for commissions in my battalion: Paul Fripp / Henry Douglas Bessemer.  I hope these may be sent to the War Office as soon as possible.” 

The applications were received by the War Office on 7th March and on 27th July 1915, Henry was passed fit at Oxford by a major in the RAMC.  Chailey Parish Magazine reported in its August 1915 edition that Henry was serving his King and Country and updated the information that October to note that he was a 2nd Lieutenant serving with the 4th Queen’s (Royal West Surrey regiment). 

On 15th October 1915, Henry attended a Medical Board assembled at Redhill by order of the GOC 67th (Home Counties) Division.  It noted that Henry, aged 21 and serving with the 3/4th Queens was, “…organically sound but that he suffers from preocordial pain intermittent in character and brought on by marching or strenuous exercise.  The Board attributes this pain to faulty digestion.  He has complained of this pain at intervals during the last six years but states that it has been much worse and of more frequent occurrence during the last 2 months.”  He was passed fit for home service. 

On 5th April 1916 he attended a second Medical Board assembled at the 1st Eastern General Hospital, Cambridge where it was noted that, “he still suffers from preocordial pains.  He is however able to do the work he is now employed in, namely Assist Qtr Master”.  He was passed unfit for service at home for three months. 

A further Medical Board assembled at the 2nd Eastern General Hospital in Brighton, took place on 7th August that year.  Second Lieutenant Bessemer, now serving with the 4/4th Queens was noted as “suffering from atonic dyspepsia which manifests itself mainly in pain and faintness after meals and after exertion.  There is tachycardia but no organic disease of the heart.  History of dyspepsia goes back seven years.  He is being dieted under the cure of his MO in camp [Crowborough Camp].”  Two months’ light duty at home was prescribed. 

On 23rd October 1916 a Harley Street doctor submitted his report on 2nd Lieutenant Bessemer, stating: 

“I certify that I examined Mr Henry Douglas Bessemer on the 17th February 1916.  At the time he was complaining of exhaustion easily produced, and pain over the left chest. I have again seen him on this date, and find the condition unchanged, and my opinion is that his weakness is provoked not by the heart, but by some other condition. On examining the abdomen I find an area of hyperalgesia of the skin to the right of the umbilicus, and deep tenderness over the right rectus muscles of the lumbar region.  I am of the opinion that this indicates the presence of chronic appendicitis, and that this condition keeps him in a chronic state of ill-health.” 

Another Medical Board was convened, this time at Tunbridge Wells where it was noted that Henry was,
"… suffering from symptoms of chronic appendicitis and [we] recommend that the operation for removal of the appendix be carried out without delay. The Board differs in opinion from the last Board assembled as it considers the previous symptoms of atonic Dyspepsia were due to the appendicular trouble and it is possible that the symptoms are more marked now than at the last examination.” 
He was passed fit for light duty in an office at home for four months and it was noted that his disability had probably been aggravated by military service.

On 17th November 1916, Captain W G H Cable, RAMC reported at Tunbridge Wells that, “About two months ago the officer came to me complaining of dyspeptic symptoms which had been getting worse for considerable time.  On examining his abdomen I found signs of appendicitis.  I advised him to see Sir Alfred Fripp who confirmed my diagnosis and advised operation as soon as convenient.” 

A further Medical Board was held at the 2nd Eastern General Hospital on 8th February 1917.  Henry Bessemer’s disability was noted as “appendicectomy” and the Board reported as follows: “He was operated on by Sir Alfred Fripp on Dec 18th; scar of incision is finally healed; apparently his symptoms were chronic in nature.  He states that he has appeared before six Medical Boards for heart weakness.  He has a mitral facies but when examined sounds, [unclear] and rhythm were normal, the action being a little [unclear].  Absence of physical [unclear] may be due [unclear] occasioned by operation. Fit for light duty at home in an office for two months.” 

Two months later, he presented before a Medical Board at Darlington where it was reported that, “His digestion is better and his physical condition improved. Fit for light duty at home for one month.” 

One month later there was another Board and another journey, this time to Carbarton Camp, Worksop, Nottinghamshire.  Henry Bessemer was now with the 4th Queens, attached to the 2/1st Hertfordshire Regiment.  The Board reported, “His digestion is better and his physical condition improved.  He is not yet capable of sustained exercise.  He has been instructed to return to the unit to which he is attached.  Fit for light duty at home for two months.” 

On 26th June 1917, Henry Bessemer’s name appeared in The Supplement to The London Gazette (page 6357) where it was reported that, “2nd Lt H D Bessemer to be Lt, with precedence as from 1st June 1916 next below Lt C G Moss, 4th June 1917.” 

On 31st July, Henry attended another Medical Board at Worksop, this time at Welbeck Camp.  By now, he was also attached to the 2/6th Essex Regiment.  Te Board reported that, “The wound is quite sound and [he] in no way suffers from the effects of the operation.  He complains of debility and faintness on exertion. His heart is enlarged and there is a [unclear] murmur.  He has been instructed to return to the 2/6th Essex Regt, Welbeck Camp, for duty. Fit for light duty at home (2 months).” 

Two months later, on 1st October 1917, Henry attended his ninth Medical Board, again at Welbeck Camp, where the Board noted, “The appendicetomy wound is quite sound and gived [sic] no trouble.  The condition of the heart is the same as at the last Board.  He still complains of shortness of breath and faintness on exertion.  He has been instructed to return to the 2/6th Essex Regiment, Welbeck Camp, for duty pending admission to hospital (2nd Northern General Hospital, Leeds)  Requires indoor treatment in an officer’s hospital for one month. 

It was less than one month however, before 2nd Lieutenant Bessemer was appearing before his next Board, this time held at the 2nd Northern General Hospital in Leeds.  The Board noted that, “The condition is much the same.  The heart sounds snappy, occasional intermission.  He complains of shortness of breath on exertion.  He is only fit for sedentary occupation.  Permanently unfit for General Service.  Fit for light duty at home in an office only.

Disability not contracted in or caused by military service but aggravated by it. 50% disablement.” 

On 16th November 1917, The Supplment to The London Gazette (page 11835) noted that “Lt H D Bessemer from Royal West Surrey Regt to be Lt 17th Nov 1917” and Chailey Parish Magazine also duly noted this fact in its December 1917 issue. 

On 5th December 1917, Lieutenant Bessemer wrote to the War Office requesting a silver war badge.  An internal War Office note 11th December however, asked the respondent to, “inform applicant that as he still holds a commission in T[erritorial] F[orce] R[eserve] it is regretted he is ineligible for award of SWB and his claim therefore cannot be approved.”  The letter was sent on 13th December 1917. 

After the First World War, Henry became a chartered accountant and he was also, according to the Natural Museum in London, “a gifted amateur entomologist.”  A bound manuscript and one loose-leaf typescript written by H D Bessemer is housed in the entomology library at the museum along with his collection of around 40,000 butterflies which he bequeathed to the museum. 

In 1923, The Times newspaper reported Henry’s marriage to Jessie Bruce-Porter, twin daughter of Sir Bruce Bruce-Porter KBE, CMG and Lady Bruce-Porter of 6 Grosvenor Street, London 1 and New House, Chobham, Surrey.  The marriage took place at St George’s, Hanover Square and was conducted by the Bishop of Guildford.  The list of guests reads like a Who’s Who of the day, the attendees including the Reverend H H Matravers of Chailey and Bishop Copleston. 

Henry Douglas Bessemer died in 1968 leaving an estate valued at close to £107,000.

John A Beard

Chailey Parish Magazine mentions John A Beard twice in its special list of attested men published in March and April 1916 but nothing further is known of this man. 

He is possibly the same John Beard whose birth was registered at Lewes District in the December quarter of 1889. He appears on the 1891 census living at Wilderness Cottages, Wivelsfield, with his parents Thomas Beard (aged 31, born in Chailey, working as an agricultural labourer) and Martha Beard (aged 31, born in Lindfield) and his three brothers and sisters: Mercy Beard (aged six), Martha (aged four) and Gersham (aged three).  All four children had been born in Wivelsfield.  Ellen Upton (aged 12, also born in Wivelsfield) is noted as a (very young) nursemaid. 

By the time the 1901 census was taken, the family had moved to Leigh Coppice, Chailey.  John’s sisters Martha and Mercy do not appear on that census return, but Gersham does, along with another sister, Grace (aged nine, born in Wivelsfield).

G/21063 Private Charles Day Beard, 10th Royal West Kent Regt

Charles Day Beard’s badly burned papers exist as a burnt document at the National Archives in London and although critical information has been destroyed, it is possible to surmise his date of birth.   

He appears on the 1901 census as a two year old living In Chailey village.  The head of the household was William Henry Beard (aged 41 and running a grocery and drapery business on the village green) and his wife Katherine (aged 29).  The couple are noted as having two children with them when the census was taken: Evelyn Emma Beard (aged four) and Charles Day (aged two).  Both the children had been born in Chailey.  A servant, 15 year old Winnifred Ellen Turner, was also living with the family.  In 1903 a second daughter, Alison Mary Beard would be born to William and Katherine.  

Charles Beard’s Short Service Attestation Form (Army Form B 2512), completed at Brighton with the Royal West Surrey Regiment, records his age as 17 years and 361 days.  His birth year is given as 1899 and from another document which states that he was “deemed to have been enlisted” on 16th November 1917, it would appear that 16th November 1899 was his date of birth. 

He gave his profession as articled clerk and information elsewhere on hs papers shows that he was working for Mr A J Graves (FAC) at 117 High Street, Brighton. 

In April 1917, Chailey Parish Magazine reports that Charles is with a training reserve battalion and his army papers show that on 3rd April 1917 he was posted to the 23rd Training Reserve Battalion at St Albans, Hertfordshire, subsequently transferring to the 24th Battalion on the 7th June that year.  The 23rd Training Reserve Battalion had its origins in the 10th (Reserve) Battalion, The Royal Sussex Regiment whilst the 24th TRB had its origins in the 14th (Reserve) Battalion, The Middlesex Regiment. 

By January 1918 Charles was a private serving with the 3rd Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment but by July had transferred to the 10th Royal West Kent Regiment.  In September 1918 he was admitted to the 4th Stationary Hospital at Boulogne with impetigo caused by gas posioning.  He was then subsequently admitted to a number of different Field Ambulances and hospitals: 139th Field Ambulance on the 17th September, 26th General Hospital on the 26th, 25th General Hospital at Hardelot on the 30th September, Number 1 Convalescent Depot at Boulogne on 28th October…  Finally, on 20th January 1919, after further spells at Boulogne and Hardelot, Charles Beard was evacuated to England aboard the hospital ship Jan Breydel.  It appears from his service record that on arrival in England he spent time in hospital at Eastleigh. 

Charles Day Beard’s army number, confirmed by his papers, was 21063.  His medal information card at the National Archives prefixes this with the letter G.  

Charles married Lucy May Attrell at St Peter's Church, Chailey (date unknown)and they had one son, Brian William Day Beard.  Charles spent the latter years of his life at Lewes and died in 1988.