Wednesday, June 11, 2014

William Hugh Blanchard

Chailey Parish Magazine notes that a Private W Blanchard is serving with a Training Reserve battalion in April 1917.  In December 1917 the regimental information is updated to 3rd Royal Sussex and in May 1918 it is updated again to 9th Royal Sussex. 

The National Archives in Kew has only one W Blanchard with the Royal Sussex Regiment noted and that is G/24460 Private William Hugh Blanchard.  In fact the National Archives holds two card for this man: one in the name of W Hugh Blanchard, serving with the 9th Royal Sussex Regiment, and the other in the name of William H Blanchard, serving with the Royal Sussex Regiment (no battalion given).   

In July 1918, the parish magazine notes that Blanchard has been wounded and this information is repeated monthly thereafter until July 1919 which is the final entry for this soldier. 

The 9th Royal Sussex Regiment was a New Army battalion which was formed at Chichester in September 1914 and all original recruits were given the ‘G’ prefix to their regimental number.  However, although Blanchard too has the G prefix to his number, the fact that he appears for the first time in the parish magazine in April 1917, coupled with the fact that he spent an initial period of time with a Training Reserve battalion would appear to suggest that he was not an early volunteer.   

The 9th Royal Sussex formed part of the 73rd Brigade in the 24th Division and first saw action at Loos in September 1915 where it suffered heavy losses. 

In “This and That in Chailey and Barcombe”, Andrew Fayle recalls, “For years the post was delivered on walking rounds.  Old Mr Blanchard, an ex soldier who had only one eye and an artificial leg, was the postman.  He walked from South Common Post Office, all up through Norman’s Brick Yard, then South Street, along Markstakes Lane as far as High House and Tutts Farm, and back.  A long way.  Like all postmen in those days he would carry stamps which you could buy from him and you could ask him to bring a postal order by arrangement. He was also our own ‘Broadcasting Station’. If you saw cattle straying, or if you lost anything, you would tell him and he would broadcast the news. ‘Yes’, he would say, ‘I’ll pass the news on.’” 

The Mr Blanchard referred to above may be the same Private W Blanchard noted in Chailey’s parish magazine in 1917. 

Sources & Acknowledgements
  • The National Archives
  • Chailey Parish Magazine
  • This and That in Chailey & Barcombe by Edwin Matthias (1994)

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