Wednesday, September 24, 2014

253988 Gnr William Padgham, RFA


William Padgham was born in Fletching, Sussex around 1899. He appears on the 1901 census of England and Wales as a one year old infant living at Wharf Cottage, Fletching with his family. The family comprised John Padgham (head, aged 40, a native of Fletching working as an agricultural labourer), his wife Mary Padgham (aged 39, a native of Lindfield) and their five children: Louisa Padgham (aged 13), Florence Padgham (aged nine), Alice Padgham (aged five), Albert Edward Padgham (aged three) and William. All of the children had been born in Fletching.

The 1911 census shows the family living at Attrells Cottage, Chailey. John Padgham, aged 51 is now a general labourer in a timber yard and there are three children: Albert (13), William (11) and Dorothy Padgham (aged eight). William Page (17) and Richard Pointing (60) are noted as boarders there. The children's mother is possibly the same Mary Ann Padgham who died in 1902 - possibly in childbirth - at the age of 40.


Chailey Parish Magazine first mentions William in November 1916, noting: Padgham, Gnr W, RFA, England. He appears to have served throughout the war, his name appearing in the monthly roll call published up to and including July 1919. William’s brother Albert Padgham also served his King and Country during the First World War.

My thanks to David Gordon for the photograph of William. Medal index card courtesy of Ancestry.

154169 Gnr Frank George Mainwood, RGA


Frank George Mainwood was born in Newick, Sussex on 25th April 1885.  He appears on the 1901 census of England and Wales as a 15 year old gardener living at The Rough, Newick.  The household comprised Samuel Mainwood (head, married, aged 47 and working as a gardener), his wife Martha Mainwood (nee Hayward, also aged 47), Harry Cecil Mainwood (son, aged 18, also working as a gardener), Frank George, and Lilian Jane Mainwood (daughter, aged ten). 

His partial service record which exists as a burnt document at The National Archives in Kew tells us that he married on Mabel Ansley Mary on 24th April 1912 and that a son, Frank William Mainwood was born at Chailey on 3rd October 1913.  (His service papers are not always clear to read and it is probable that I have transcribed his wife’s name incorrectly.  David Mainwood  - see acknowledgements - has his wife's name as Violet A M Davis).

Frank Mainwood was “deemed to have been enlisted” on 24th June 1916.  His descriptive report on joining gave his age as 31 years and two months and his height as five feet, eight and three quarter inches.  He gave his wife as his next of kin and his address as Allingham Road, Newick although this was later crossed out and “Cinder Cottage, Cinder Hill, Chailey” written in its place.  This address in turn was later corrected elsewhere as Upper Roeheath Lodge, Cinder Hill, Chailey.  His religion was recorded as Baptist.

On 28th November 1916 he was called up for service, enlisting with the Royal Garrison Artillery at Brighton for the duration of the war.  He was given the number 154169 and it was noted that he had previously served with the Royal Army Medical Corps.  He was posted to the Army Reserve on 29th November and on 10th April 1917 posted to the RGA depot.  Sixteen days later he was posted to number 417 Siege Battery and on 20th August he sailed for France.  The following month, Chailey Parish Magazine noted: Mainwood, Gnr F G, RGA.

On 15th October 1917 he was posted to the Base and, one week later, to another battery – 245 Siege Battery.

It was whilst serving with this battery that, on 4th January 1918, Frank Mainwood sustained a gunshot wound to his face that resulted in the loss of his right eye.

On 6th August 1918, the Ministry of Pensions granted him a weekly pension of 27 shillings and six pence for four weeks from 15th August 1918, thereafter a weekly pension of sixteen shillings and sixpence, to be reviewed after 48 weeks.  He was discharged from the army on 14th August 1918 as no longer physically fit for war service.  He received the British War and Victory Medals and a silver war badge, number 433559.

It is likely that he was related to another soldier recorded in the parish magazine by Reverend Jellicoe: William Mainwood.  This is probably the same William Mainwood who was born in Fletching in 1893 and if it is, he and Frank, shared common great-grandparents.
 
I am grateful to David Mainwood for contacting me and providing additional details from Frank Mainwood’s birth certificate, as well as other general details about the this particular branch of the Mainwood family tree. Thanks too to Simon Stevens for the photo of  Frank Mainwood in his RGA uniform. Frank also appears in this Chailey and Newick Branch NFDDSS photo (back row, second left) taken outside the King's Head in 1921.







Tuesday, September 23, 2014

SS6327 Able Seaman Albert Langridge, Royal Navy



Albert Langridge, pictured above when he was serving on HMS Myngs,  was born at Lewes, Sussex on the 12th August 1897. He appears on the 1901 census of England & Wales as a three year old living at Broomfield, South Common, Chailey. The family comprised George Langridge (head), aged 33 and working as a farmer; his wife Harriet (also aged 33) and their two sons: Albert and Cecil (aged one). Like his older brother, Cecil Langridge would also later join the Royal Navy and would be killed at the Battle of Jutland on 31st May 1916.

By the time the 1911 census was taken, Albert was a 13-year-old schoolboy still living at Broomfields Farm with his parents and younger brother, Cecil. Two other siblings had also arrived since the 1901 census was taken: Ethel Langridge (aged nine in 1911) and Harold Langridge (aged seven). A five-year-old Frank Southam is noted as a boarder. The head of the household, George Langridge, is recorded as a farm foreman.

When Albert joined the Royal Navy on 23rd August 1915, he stated his trade as cowman. He enlisted for five years with the colours and seven years with the Royal Fleet Reserve. His hair is described as light brown his eyes as blue and his complexion as fair. He was given the number SS6327 and the rating of ordinary seaman. His service history reads as follows:

HMS Victory I: 23rd August – 13th October 1915
HMS Myngs: 14th October 1915 – 4th February 1917 (promoted to the rating of able seaman on 18th December 1916)
HMS Torrent: 17th February – 31st December 1917
HMS Victory I: 1st January – 28th April 1918
HMS Winchester: 29th April 1918 – 30th January 1920



The photograph above shows men of HMS Winchester. Text on the reverse, reads: "Taken at the well known place called Scapa Flow after taking the German fleet to anchor on November 21st 1918. Ship's Company of HMS Winchester."

Albert's last posting was to the shore establishment, HMS Victory I between the 31st January and the 20th September 1920. The following day he joined the Royal Fleet Reserve. He had held the sub-rating of seaman gunner between 8th July 1918 and his demob on 20th September 1920, and he was also awarded a good conduct badge on 22nd August 1918.

Throughout his service with the Royal Navy, Albert's character was rated “very good” with his ability ranging from “satisfactory” to “superior”. There is a note on his record that he was wounded when HMS Torrent was sunk on 23rd December 1918.

The photograph below shows Albert, seated third from left. It is undated but may date to his time on HMS Winchester as some men bear this ship's name on their caps.

 
 
My grateful thanks to Hazel Dean and Roger Langridge, great nephew of Albert and Cecil Langridge for sending me the photos that appear on this post, and for giving permission to reproduce these here.

Henry John Langridge


I know little about this man. Chailey Parish Magazine notes in January 1916 that Henry J Langridge has attested but is medically unfit. It later mentions Langridge, Gunner H, RGA, England but I believe this to be Herbert Langridge who is commemorated elsewhere on this blog.

Henry J Langridge is probably Henry John Langridge who was born at Maresfield, Sussex around 1882 and who, at the time the 1891 census was taken, was living with his family at Maresfield Street, Maresfield. The household comprised Adam Langridge (aged 53, a general labourer born in Fletching), his wife Mary Langridge (nee Waite, aged 51, a laundress) and Henry (a ten year old scholar). Fifteen year old Jessie Frances Billings (a laundress’s assistant) was also living with the family.

By the time the 1901 census was taken, the family was living in Maresfield village, Henry (aged 19) recorded as a bricklayer’s labourer. Mary Waite (aged 22, Adam Langridge’s niece and also recorded as a laundress), was living with the family as well.

Henry was certainly not the only child. The 1881 census return records George Langridge (aged 18) and Annie Langridge (aged 11) while the 1871 census notes a six year old Mary Langridge (although Anne is also recorded as being six years old).

By the time the 1911 census was taken, 29-year-old Henry was married and living at 4 Longhurst Cottages, Chailey with his 30-year-old wife, Fanny Limber Langridge and their two children: Mary Elizabeth Langridge (aged six), and Francis Henry Joseph Langridge (aged one). Henry's trade is given as an assurance agent for the Prudential.

Photo, courtesy of Google, shows Longhurst Cottages, North Chailey today (2014).

115996 Gunner Herbert Langridge, Royal Garrison Artillery


 
Herbert Langridge was born around 1878 and appears on the 1881 census living with his family at 2, New Cottages, Chailey.  The household comprised James Langridge (head, married, a 25 year old carpenter and game keeper), his wife Ellen Langridge (nee Wilson, aged 27) and their two sons, Herbert (aged two) and Arthur (aged one).  The boys and their father had all been born in Chailey; Ellen was born in Mayfield.

By the time the 1891 census was taken, the family was living at Roeheath Cottages, Chailey.  No additions to the family are noted.  Ten years later, the 1901 census has the family staying at 2, Roeheath Cottages, Chailey.  Herbert is recorded as a 23 year old plumber and painter.

Chailey Parish Magazine notes in January 1916 that Herbert Langridge has attested, and in October 1916 that, Langridge, Gunner H, RGA is in England.  This must be Herbert as the other H Langridge (Henry J Langridge) mentioned in the parish magazine, is noted as having attested medically unfit.

In October 1918 the magazine notes that Lance-Bombardier H Langridge has been wounded and this information is then repeated monthly up to and including the final published roll call in July 1919.

The National Archives gives one possibly for a Herbert Langridge serving with the Royal Garrison Artillery and that is 115996 Gunner Herbert Langridge.  Chailey Parish Magazine also mentions an Arthur Langridge serving with the Royal Field Artillery and this is probably Herbert’s brother.
 
Medal index card courtesy of Ancestry.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

49845 Corporal Shoeing-Smith Arthur Langridge MSM, Royal Field Artillery



The Arthur Langridge mentioned in Chailey parish magazine was a Boer War veteran and Old Contemptible and is almost certainly the same boy who appears on the 1881 census living with his family at 2, New Cottages, Chailey.  The household comprised James Langridge (head, married, a 25 year old carpenter and game keeper), his wife Ellen Langridge (nee Wilson, aged 27) and their two sons, Herbert Langridges (aged two) and Arthur (aged one).  The boys and their father had all been born in Chailey; Ellen was born in Mayfield.

By the time the 1891 census was taken, the family was living at Roeheath Cottages, Chailey.  No additions to the family are noted but Arthur is not recorded.  Ten years later, the 1901 census has the family staying at 2, Roeheath Cottages, Chailey.  Herbert is recorded as a 23 year old plumber and painter but again, Arthur is missing and I have been unable to locate him on census returns.
 
On 29th April 1902, 22-year-old Arthur enlisted with the Royal Horse and Field Artillery at Lewes. His surviving papers in WO 97 note his place of birth as Chailey and his trade as a blacksmith. Arthur joined for one year (or for the duration if the war in South Africa was not over). Arthur joined his regiment at Woolwich on 2nd May 1902 and was given the regimental number 23542. He was subsequently appointed shoeing smith and served in South Africa before being discharged on the 2nd June 1903.
 
 
Arthur subsequently re-enlisted in 1908 and was working as a blacksmith (but on the Army Reserve) when Britain went to war in August 1914. The 1911 census shows him married to 31-year-old Mary Ann Langridge, the father of Esther Langridge (aged three) and Margaret Langridge (aged one). The family was living at Sunnydale, Plumpton, Sussex.
 
Arthur's medal index card shows that he was in France by October 1914 and he served throughout the war. At one point in 1915 he was a witness for the prosecution in a case brought by his regiment. A single page survives for him in WO 364 which I reproduce below.
 
 
Arthur first appears in the September 1915 issue of Chailey’s parish magazine as A Langridge.  In October 1915 he is reported as Langridge, Shoeing-smith A, RFA, France and the same source also notes his promotion to “corporal shoeing-smith” in October 1918.  This information is then repeated monthly up to and including the final published roll call in July 1919.

According to The Times, he was 49845 Sergeant A Langridge and his name appeared in the paper on Wednesday 19th June 1918 in connection with his award of the Meritorious Service Medal.  He is noted there as: 49845 Sgt A Langridge, RFA (Chailey, Lewes).
 
 
 
Arthur continued to serve with the Royal Artillery after the war ended and has service papers in the Royal Artillery collection recently published on Findmypast. Medal index cards courtesy of Ancestry. Service paper images are Crown Copyright The National Archives.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

P12510 L/Cpl Charles Hall, Military Foot Police

 
Charles Hall was born in Fletching, probably in 1891 (but after the census was taken that year).  He appears on the 1901 census as a nine year old living at Station Cottage, Chailey with his family.  The household comprised Thomas Hall (head, aged 52, a railway plate layer), his wife Rhoda Hall (aged 47) and their four children: Rosey Hall (aged 12), Charles, George Hall (aged seven) and Harry Hall (aged three).  All three boys would later serve in the First World War.

Census returns for 1891 and 1881 reveal other Hall children as well: Elizabeth, aged 15 in 1891, another daughter – the name is difficult to decipher – aged 11 in 1891 and Annie Hall, aged four in 1891.  The 1881 census additionally notes John Hall, aged three.

The National Archives records two numbers for Charles Hall: 31581 with The Gloucestershire Regiment and P12510 with the Military Police.

According to Chailey Parish Magazine, as early as 1914 Charles Hall was serving his King and Country.  In October 1915 it records the fact that Pte C Hall is serving with the 1st Royal Sussex Regiment in India.  On the outbreak of war the battalion was already garrisoned in India at Peshawar and would remain in India for the duration of the war.

The 1911 census shows Charles serving with the 1st Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment as a 20-year old private soldier. Chailey is noted as his place of birth. At that time, the regiment was stationed at Rawalpindi in the Indian Punjab.

At some point however, Charles must have departed India and returned to England. He would either have been discharged and then re-enlisted or simply transferred. In any event, in January 1917, Chailey Parish Magazine notes that Charles Hall is now serving with the 7th Gloucestershire Regiment.

This battalion, formed at Bristol in August 1914, had landed at Gallipoli in July 1915 and would spend the rest of its war service in the east.  By the time Charles Hall joined, it formed part of the 39th Brigade in the 13th Division and was stationed at Mesopotamia.

In December 1917, Charles transferred again, this time to the Military Foot Police as a corporal.  His final entry in Chailey’s Parish Magazine in July 1919 notes, Hall, Corporal C, Military Foot Police. The medal roll for the British War and Victory Medal gives dates served overseas: 4th August 1916 to 11th November 1918.

 
This is not where the story ends. After the war, Charles remained with the Military Foot Police and served in Iraq, earning entitlement to the General Service Medal with the Iraq clasp. His records presumably still survive, lodged with the Ministry of Defence. Medal index cards courtesy of Ancestry.

L/9533 Pte George Hall, Royal West Kent Regiment


George Hall was born in Chailey, probably early in 1894. His birth was registered at Lewes district in the March quarter of that year and he appears on the 1901 census as a seven year old living at Station Cottage, Chailey with his family. The household comprised Thomas Hall (head, aged 52, a railway plate layer), his wife Rhoda Hall (aged 47) and their four children: Rosey Hall (aged 12), Charles Hall (aged nine), George and Harry Hall (aged three). All three boys would later serve in the First World War.

Census returns for 1891 and 1881 reveal other Hall children as well: Elizabeth, aged 15 in 1891, another daughter – the name is difficult to decipher – aged 11 in 1891 and Annie Hall, aged four in 1891. The 1881 census additionally notes John Hall, aged three.

Chailey Parish Magazine notes George in its first list of men serving their King and Country in October 1914. In October 1915 this information is updated to include the additional information that Drummer G Hall is serving with the 2nd Royal West Kent Regiment in India. The 2nd Royal West Kent was a regular battalion which had been stationed at Multan, India when war was declared and which would later be besieged in Kut. George remained with the battalion for the duration of the war.

In July 1916, Chailey Parish Magazine adds the additional information that he is serving with the Indian Expeditionary Force (although throughout the war, the battalion was assigned to various Indian divisions). The National Archives in London gives George Hall’s rank as Private and his number as L/9533, this latter information suggesting that he enlisted in early 1910. George’s final mention in Chailey Parish Magazine in July 1919 simply mentions his rank of Drummer and battalion as before.

As can be seen from his medal index card above (courtesy of Ancestry) his rank is noted as Drummer on his 1914-15 Star, and Private on his British War and Victory Medals. The latter roll confirms that George served with the 2nd Battalion, Royal West Kent Regiment.

320605 Pte Harry Hall, 12th Norfolk Regiment

 
Harry Hall was born in Chailey in 1897, his birth registered at Lewes district in the December quarter of that year.  He appears on the 1901 census as a three year old living at Station Cottage, Chailey with his family.  The household comprised Thomas Hall (head, aged 52, a railway plate layer), his wife Rhoda Hall (aged 47) and their four children: Rosey Hall (aged 12), Charles Hall (aged nine), George Hall (aged seven) and Harry.  All three boys would later serve in the First World War. 

Census returns for 1891 and 1881 reveal other Hall children as well: Elizabeth, aged 15 in 1891, another daughter – the name is difficult to decipher – aged 11 in 1891 and Annie Hall, aged four in 1891.  The 1881 census additionally notes John Hall, aged three. 

Chailey Parish Magazine first notes an H Hall in November 1916, reporting that he is a Gunner serving with the RFA in England.  By January 1917 however, he is recorded as being with the 7th Training Reserve Battalion.  The following information about the Training Reserve Battalions is taken from Chris Baker’s website, The Long, Long Trail: 

On 1 September 1916, a considerable re-organisation of the reserve infantry battalions took place. Before this date, most of the infantry regiments contained one or more reserve battalions. Recruits would be posted to these battalions for basic training, before they were posted to an active service unit. With the introduction of conscription, the regimental system simply could not cope with numbers, hence this development. Thus, in combination with conscription, the local nature of recruitment for infantry regiments was abandoned.
 
After 1 September 1916, these regimental distinctions disappeared, and the reserve battalions were re-designated as battalions of the Training Reserve. They were organised into new Brigades of the Training Reserve. No Guards, Irish or TF Battalions converted to Training Reserve, and this change did not affect the Special Reserve or Extra Reserve battalions of the regular army (normally the 3rd and 4th Battalions of a regiment).  The official complement of the Training Reserve was a little over 208,500 soldiers.

Men who attended the Training Reserve battalions were not allocated to any particular regiment when the time came for them to be posted. Thus, in combination with conscription, the local nature of recruitment for infantry regiments was abandoned. Later, from May 1917, this arrangement was itself altered when the units of the Training Reserve became Graduated and Young Soldier battalions.

The 7th TRB had its origins in the 9th (Reserve) Battalion of the East Yorkshire Regiment but Harry does not appear to have joined this regiment.  In December 1917, Chailey Parish Magazine reported that he had been wounded whilst serving with the 12th Norfolk Regiment and the following April, still with the 12th Norfolks, he was reported as having been wounded again.

His final entry in Chailey Parish Magazine appears in July 1919 where it reports: Hall, Pte H, 12th Norfolk Regiment.  Twice wounded.
 
The 12th (Norfolk Yeomanry) Battalion was a Territorial Force battalion formed in Egypt in February 1917 from the dismounted 1/1st Norfolk Yeomanry of the 230th Brigade in the 74th Division.  On 1st May 1918 it sailed from Alexandria, arriving in Marseilles six days later.  It remained on the Western Front for the remainder of the war. Harry would therefore appear to have been wounded - or injured - whilst the battalion was stationed in Egypt.
 
The National Archives notes three men with the name Harry Hall who served overseas with the Norfolk Regiment.  The Chailey Harry Hall is almost certainly the man noted as 320605 Harry Hall as this number falls within the block of numbers (315001 – 325000) allocated to the 12th Norfolks when the Territorial Force was re-numbered in 1917.
 
Medal index card courtesy of Ancestry.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

SD/3078 Lance-Sergeant Thomas Clarkson, 13th Royal Sussex Regt


Tom Clarkson, remembers Chailey resident Reg Philpott, was a schoolmaster at one time and like his brother Richard, “had a rough time too.” He was born in 1890, his birth registered in the June quarter of that year. He appears on the 1901 census of England and Wales as the eldest of six boys living with his family at South Street, Chailey. Present when the census was taken were Ellen Clarkson (head, aged 39) and her sons: Thomas (aged 11), John William Clarkson (aged nine), James Clarkson (aged eight), Victor Clarkson (aged four), Richard Clarkson (aged two), and Edward Clarkson (aged one month). All the boys were born in Chailey and John and Richard would also serve their King and Country during the First World War. The boys’ father, Thomas Clarkson, is recorded on both the 1891and 1901 census as working at The Hooke, Chailey. Aged 43 in 1901 he was born in Goosnargh, Lancashire and is listed as a butler.

Chailey Parish Magazine first notes Thomas Clarkson in March 1915, stating simply that he is serving his King and Country. In October 1915 he is recorded as a corporal with the 13th Royal Sussex Regiment and by April 1916 it is noted that he is in France. In June that year, the parish magazine reports that his rank is now that of lance-sergeant.

On Friday July 14th 1916 the East Sussex News reported that he had been wounded in action stating simply, “Sergt T Clarkson of Chailey, who is in the Royal Sussex Regiment, has been wounded and is in hospital in England.” The following month, the parish magazine duly reported that he had been wounded and was in France, updating this in October to note that he was in England. The parish magazine continues to record “wounded” against Tom Clarkson’s name up until November 1916. Thereafter, until his final mention in March 1917, he is simply noted as Clarkson, Lance-Sergeant T, 13th Royal Sussex.

Tom Clarkson’s service record survives in the WO 364 pension series at The National Archives. He enlisted in the 13th Royal Sussex Regiment (3rd South Down) at Bexhill on the 17th December 1914 and was given the service number SD/3078. He gave his address as Wickham House, Newick, Sussex (his father’s address) and his profession as schoolmaster. He was 24 years and eight months old. Although single at the time of his enlistment he married Dora Annie Halb, a widow, on 24th April 1915 at St Luke’s parish church in Wolverhampton. He’d been appointed lance-corporal five days earlier and the following month would be promoted to corporal. On 9th June 1916 he was appointed paid lance-sergeant, a rank he would retain until his discharge from the army on 28th December 1916.

Tom Clarkson sailed for France on 4th March 1916 but was only overseas for 120 days before he was wounded on 1st July 1916, receiving a gunshot wound in his right forearm. He returned to England the following day and remained there until his discharge from the army. His address on discharge is given as The Schools, Ifield Road, Crawley.

In December 1916, on Army Form W.3494, Tom Clarkson noted that he held the Certificate of the Board of Education and that prior to enlistment he had been a schoolmaster at Crawley CE School; a position he had held for eight months and one to which he would return. On 8th February 1917 he received the silver war badge and certificate and in due course would also receive the British War and Victory medals from a grateful country. In total, he had spent two years and 12 days serving his King and Country.

Monday, September 08, 2014

2nd Lt Richard John Deane, 117th Bty, 26th Bde, RFA


Richard John Deane was born in Fleetwood, Lancashire on 19th May 1898. He was the son of Richard Woodforde Deane of Bedford and Harriet Deane (nee Blencowe) of Chailey.

The 1901 census records the Deane family living at 145 Canterbury Road, Gillingham, Kent. His father, a career soldier, is recorded as a 41 year old major in the Lancashire Fusiliers. Other members of the family are noted as Harriet (mother, aged 38), Frances (daughter, aged six, born in Eccles, Lancashire), Michael W[allace] B[lencowe] (son, aged four, born in Eccles), Richard J[ohn] (son, aged two, born in Fleetwood) and Dorothea (daughter, aged one, born in Malta). In addition there were three servants: 22 year old Ellen Walder, a nurse, born in Chailey; 26 year old Louisa Philpot, a parlour maid from Rochester, and 18 year old Ada Knight, a nursery maid from Reading.

Harriet Deane was the daughter of John George Blencowe of Bineham. Her sister, Florence C Drummond, would lose a son – Frederick John Drummond – in the First World War and her siblings John Ingham Blencowe, Robert Campion Blencowe and Frances Isabel Blencowe – would all play leading roles in Chailey during the First World War.

Richard attended St Peter’s Court school Broadstairs and Marlborough College (April 1912 – August 1916). In June 1912 he joined the college OTC and had attained the rank of platoon sergeant by the time he left in 1916. He had served four years with the OTC, had attended one annual camp (in 1914), was a second class shot and overall marked as “efficient”.

By 1916, Richard was already 18 years old and, on his eighteenth birthday, had been deemed as having attested. He had been placed on the Army Reserve. On 1st July 1916, the report by the first Medical Board that he attended, passed him as unfit, noting that his chest was under-developed and that he had a scar from a tubercular glands’ operation on the on the left side of his neck. It would appear that his father, by now a colonel, was not happy with the Medical Board’s findings. On 7th July he sent his son four guineas and directed him to attend another Board. This was duly held on the 18th and this time the Board members passed him fit. On 5th November 1916, Richard Deane applied for a temporary commission in the army, giving his home address as 129 Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury. Acting headmaster at Marlborough College, Mr J R Taylor, attested that he had known him for the last three years and Lt Colonel Hall, commanding Marlborough College Officer Training Corps noted that he was a suitable candidate for a commission, that he had been captain of his House and should make a good officer. Richard was medically examined again at the Military Hospital, Shrewsbury on 18th November 1916 where it was noted that he was six feet, one inch tall and had perfect eyesight. He was considered fit for military service.

On 28th December, Richard was mobilised and posted to No 1 Royal Artillery Cadet School at St John’s Wood Barracks, London. His rank was Cadet Gunner. Five months later, on 5th May 1917, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery. Richard Deane proceeded overseas in July 1917, joining 117th Battery of the 26th Brigade, RFA on 9th July. Just nine days later, on 18th July, he was dead; discovered in his dug-out by Captain A E Rusher with a single bullet wound to his head. A court of enquiry into his death was held and concluded the same day. The transcripts below are reported in their entirety and are taken from Second Lieutenant Deane’s service record held at The National Archives in Kew.

Proceedings of a Court of Enquiry held in the Field to enquire into the circumstances attending the death of 2/Lieut, R J Deane, 26th Brigade RFA on the 18th July 1917.
PRESIDENT: Major V C HILDITCH, 117th Battery RFA
MEMBERS: 2/Lieut W T FORRESTER, 116th Battery RFA; 2/Lieut J A WARD A/26 Battery RFA

Captain A E RUSHER 117th Battery RFA states that 2/Lieut R J DEANE up to the time he went to bed last night 17th July, was quite normal and rational and seemed quite happy. The deceased officer appeared to have nothing on his mind either associated with his profession or personal affairs. He states further that at 8.50AM this morning 18th July, he heard a shot fired. He himself was at the time in his own dug-out and as there is a good deal of rifle fire at aeroplanes in the vicinity he attached no significance to the report. Wondering why the deceased Officer had not appeared Captain RUSHER states that he went to the deceased Officer’s dug-out. He found 2/Lieut DEANE lying in bed, with a revolver in his hand and bleeding from the nose. He at once called Captain C R RECKITT RAMC attached 26th Brigade RFA. Captain RUSHER also states that the pistol of the deceased Officer was used to shoot the wounded horse of an Australian driver about 2.30PM on the 15th July. (Sd) A E RUSHER, Captain RFA

Captain C R RECKITT RAMC attached 26th Brigade RFA states that the deceased Officer 2/Lieut R J DEANE RFA during the last few days seemed to him to be perfectly normal, rational and physically well. At dinner last night 17th July the deceased Officer was quite cheery, had a good dinner and was quite normal before going to bed. This morning at 9AM he states that he was called by Captain RUSHER to the dug-out of 2/Lieut DEANE. He states that he found the deceased Officer lying dead in his bed. Death was due to a wound in the head. In his hand he held a Webley Service Pistol, the chamber of which contained an empty cartridge case. (Sd) C R RECKITT, Captain RAMC

No 152033 Driver Green, HR Headquarters 26th Brigade RFA states that he was servant of the deceased Officer. He called the latter at 7.50AM this morning 18th July 1917. This Officer asked for his water and ordered a bath to be prepared and appeared to be quite well. He took the jacket of this Officer and repaired a certain part of it, brushed the Officer’s clothes and prepared his bath and returned at about 8.30AM and found 2/Lieut DEANE then alive. He did not see him again. He further states that on the afternoon of the 15th July this Officer lent his revolver to an Australian driver to shoot his wounded horse. For this purpose 2/Lieut DEANE loaded the revolver himself. (Sd) H R GREEN, 26th Brigade RFA

Examination of private papers and articles in the dug-out of 2/Lieut R J DEANE by the President and Members of the Court.

We the undersigned Officers, President and Members of the Court state that we have examined the private papers and articles of the deceased Officer. In his papers we find nothing to shew that this Officer was unhappy or had anything on his mind associated with his profession or his private affairs. We found on a shelf in his dug-out an opened packet of ball cartridges, two of the twelve rounds having been removed. In the chamber of the Webley Pistol in the deceased Officer’s hand we found one empty cartridge case. We state that we have seen the deceased Officer in the position he was first found by Captain A E RUSHER and found him dead from a wound in the side of the head. We have collected all the papers and articles associated with this Officer’s death and handed them with these Proceedings to Lieut Colonel G B HINTON CMG, RFA Commanding 26th Bde. (Sd) V C HILDITCH, Major RFA (Sd) W T FORREST 2/Lieut RFA (Sd) J A WARD 2/Lieut RFA

In the Field 18th July 1917 Headquarters 47th DA Forwarded.

I have carefully considered the evidence and am of the opinion that 2/Lieut R J DEANE was handling his revolver in bed and accidentally shot himself. (Sd) G B HINTON, Lieut Col RFA Comdg 26th Brigade RFA 18.7.17

I concur in the opinion of Officer Commanding 26th Army Field Artillery Brigade RFA. (Sd) E N WHITLEY X Corps No 21/322A

On 23rd July 1917, Colonel Deane received an official War Office telegram which simply stated that his son had been killed in an accident. Eight days later, Messrs Cox and Co shipped home a few personal items to Colonel Deane. There was a wrist watch, strap and guard, a fountain pen and an identity disc and chain showing the initials R J.

In France however, the matter of Second Lieutenant Deane’s death was far from over. On 29th July 1917, Surgeon General R Porter, Director of Medical Services for the Second Army, wrote that he was not convinced by the Court of Enquiry’s findings into the officer’s death.

“I am of the opinion,” he wrote, “that 2/Lieut R J DEANE died from a Self-Inflicted Wound. The Medical evidence is not complete; the positions of the wounds of entrance and exit need to be stated, and whether there was any burning or discolouration of the skin; this might help to elucidate the fact as to whether the wound was accidental or not.”

The following day, Captain Reckitt (RAMC), Medical Officer in charge of 26th Brigade RFA replied that, “the position of the wound of entry was about one and a half inches above and slightly in front of the right ear. The wound of exit was slightly behind the left ear. There was no burning or discolouration of the skin.” Surgeon General Porter was still not convinced however.

“I am still of the opinion,” he wrote on 8th August, “that this Officer died of a Self-Inflicted Wound. The further statement of the Medical Officer supports the view that it might have been accidental but there is no conclusive proof one way or the other.”

The army however, took the official view that as there was nothing to show whether Richard Deane’s death was a case of suicide or accidental death it would give the benefit of the doubt. His death was recorded as accidental.

Richard Deane is buried in Dikkebus New Military Cemetery Extension, near Ypres, Belgium. The inscription on his headstone is taken from Psalm XVI and reads, In thy presence is fulness of joy. He is also commemorated on the war memorial at Chailey although there is no evidence to show that he ever lived there. His association with the village appears to be purely through his mother Harriet who, as a Blencowe, presumably wielded enough influence to ensure that her son’s name was commemorated in Chailey. Chailey Parish Magazine, usually quite diligent in its reporting of local casualties and serving men, only makes mention of Richard Deane after he has been killed, including his name in The Roll of Honour for the first time in December 1917. Richard Deane’s brother, Michael Wallace Blencowe Deane, also served in the First World War and survived. After the war, the boys’ father, who would later be made a CBE, appears to have settled at Oldland, Hassocks, Sussex.

G/5793 Pte Ernest Arthur Malins, 6th Royal West Kent Regiment


G/5793 Lance-Corporal Ernest Malins was a convalescent patient at Hickwells in July 1915. His entry in Nurse Oliver’s album, dated 12th July 1915, accompanies a pencil drawing of The Queen’s Own Royal West Kent cap badge and reads:

With best wishes
Lc Cp Malins
5793 Royal West Kent
3rd Batt.
H Comp
Upper Barracks Chatham

Ernest Arthur Malins was born at Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, around January 1881. He appears on the 1881 census as a three month old infant living in Kingston with his family. The household comprised: Thomas Andrew Malins (head, married, aged 35, working as a coach painter), his wife Elizabeth Ann Malins (aged 32) and their six children: Evelina Rebecca Malins (aged ten), Alice Maud Malins (aged eight), Thomas Edward Malins (aged six), Albert Andrew Malins (aged four), Annie Laura (aged two) and Ernest.

By the time the 1891 census was taken, Evelina and Alice had moved away from the family home in Bittoms Lane, Kingston, but there were three other children: Edgar Morris Malins (aged eight), Archibald D Malins (aged four) and Sidney Howard W Malins (aged one). Thomas Malins is recorded on the 1891 census as a coach builder. Also noted on the same page of the 1891 census is the household headed by Robert Porter Malins (Thomas Andrew’s younger brother). He was married, aged 39 and working as a wheelwright. He and his wife, Georgina (also aged 39), had five children living with them: Emily Frances Malins (aged 17), John George Malins (aged 15), Jessie May Malins (aged 11), Maggie Elizabeth Malins (aged six) and William Andrew Malins (aged one). At least four Malins children also died in infancy - Nellie Malins in 1883, Frederick Herbert Malins and Thomas Charles Malins in 1891 and Richard Henry W Malins in 1896. All four children were under one year old and all were almost certainly children or grandchildren of Thomas and Robert.

I have been unable to find Ernest on the 1901 census but his parents were living at 75 Bridge Street West, Battersea, south London. The household had shrunk somewhat. Thomas is noted as a coach painter and writer and besides his wife there are just two children living with them: Warren A D Malins (aged 14, working as a railway clerk) and Sidney. Warren appears on the 1891 census as Archibald D Malins although his birth was registered (in the September quarter of 1886) as Warren Archibald D Malins.

Ernest married Harriet Hayward in 1909, their marriage registered in the December quarter of that year in the district of Wandsworth. On 22nd February 1915, he attested with the Royal West Kent Regiment at Kingston, with his brother Sidney (who appears to have attested under the name of Howard W Malins). The surviving recruitment registers for Kingston note that Ernest was 33 years and one month old, was five feet six and three eighths of an inch tall and weighed 152 pounds. His occupation is recorded as grocer’s assistant and his home address noted as 53 Rye Hill Road, Peckham, south east London. His brother Howard (aged 25 years and ten months) is recorded as being slightly taller than Ernest at five feet eight and three quarter inches, and two pounds heavier. He was occupied as a motor brush maker and living at 35 Trott Street, Battersea.

The following month, Ernest and Howard’s cousin William (aged 24) also attested at Kingston (on the 26th), joining the King’s Royal Rifle Corps. He was five feet, four and a half inches tall and weighed 110 pounds. Under “distinctive marks”, tattoos are noted.

There appears to be some discrepancy about Ernest’s age. According to the 1881 census, taken on the night of 3rd April 1881, Ernest was three months old. This places his date of birth to January 1881 and would have made him 34 years and one month old in February 1915, not 33 years as noted in the recruitment register. There is a similar discrepancy regarding William Malin’s age, aged one in 1891 according to the census but only just aged 24 in March 1915 (according to the recruitment register for Kingston).

It is unclear which battalion of the Royal West Kent Regiment Ernest was posted to after he attested but he would probably have been in hospital prior to his time at Hickwells as it was still a convalescent home in July 1915. He must have recovered sufficiently however because he was posted to the 6th Royal West Kent Regiment (part of the 37th Brigade in the 12th Division) and was killed in action whilst serving with this battalion on 2nd July 1916. The 6th RWK, had spent the morning clearing trenches of dead and wounded and in the afternoon had been ordered to take over the support trenches. In the afternoon, during the relief, 2nd Lieutenant Hoyland and 28 other ranks were wounded and four men – including Ernest Malins - were killed. At nine o’clock in the evening the men were ordered back to their former position south of Ovillers. The following day the battalion lost a further 375 men killed, wounded or missing in an attack and counter attack the following day.



Ernest Malins’s body was never found and he is commemorated on pier and face 11C of The Thiepval Memorial on The Somme. Howard and William Malins both appear to have survived. Soldiers Died in The Great War gives Ernest's number as G/5793 although he omits this in Nurse Oliver's album. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission incorrectly states his number as G/15793.

The photo below shows Ernest (left) and his brother Sidney Howard Williams Malins at home in England with their parents. My thanks to Sam for sending this.


Somewhat drunken medal index card courtesy of Ancestry; name detail at Thiepval courtesy of Garth McGowen.

SD/3427 Lance Corporal Albert Plummer, 13th Royal Sussex Regt


Albert Plummer was a baby of four months old when the 1881 census was taken. His father, Charles Plummer (29) was an agricultural labourer living at 2 Adams Cottages, South Street, Chailey with his 28 year old wife Caroline Elizabeth Plummer (nee Martin) and their six children. Charles had been born in Fletching, Sussex and his wife in Wivelsfield (also in Sussex). It is possible that the family had also lived in Wivelsfield earlier because the two older children, Clement (aged nine) and Charles William (aged seven) had also been born there.

Albert appears on the 1891 census, living with his family at South Street, Chailey. The family comprised Charles Plummer (now noted as 37 years old and an agricultural labourer), his 36 year old wife Caroline and their eight children: Clement Martin Plummer (aged 19, an agricultural labourer), Ebenezer Plummer (aged 14), Emily Plummer (aged 12), Albert Plummer (aged ten), Owen Plummer (aged eight), Alexander Plummer (aged five), Annie Plummer (aged three) and Laura Plummer (aged five months). Another son, 17 year old Charles William Plummer, was working as a cow lad and domestic servant for Thomas Farrant at Weavel’s Den, Chailey.

Ten years later, most of the family is still living at South Street (although some of the ages do not tally with the information given on the previous census return and there are some name variations). The family comprised Charles Plummer (aged 49 and now working as carter on a farm), his wife Caroline (whose age is given as 57) and seven children: [Charles] William Plummer (a 27 year old farm labourer), Albert Plummer (a 20 year old gardener), Owen Plummer (an eighteen year old brickyards labourer), Annie Plummer (aged 12), Laura N Plummer (aged 11), Dora Louisa Plummer (aged six) and Kate Elizabeth Plummer (aged three). Clement Martin Plummer, oldest of the Plummer children, was married with two children, living at 45 Church Street, Brighton and working as brewer’s labourer. Ebenezer Plummer had moved out of the family home and was living at 77 South Common with his wife Edith Mary (nee Jenner) and her 88 year old grandfather John Jenner. Fifteen year old Alexander was still in Chailey but not at South Street. He was working as a page at The Hooke, Chailey.

Chailey Parish Magazine first mentions Albert serving his King and Country in November 1915 when it notes him as a Private with the Royal Sussex Regiment in England. According to Soldiers Died in The Great War, Albert enlisted at Eastbourne. He was given the number SD/3427 with the 13th Battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment. The SD part of Albert Plummer’s number refers to South Downs. The 11th, 12th and 13th Royal Sussex Regiment were also known as the 1st, 2nd and 3rd South Downs; Pals-type battalions which in time would find themselves assigned to a division (the 39th), with other Pals’ battalions. Chailey Parish Magazine first records Albert’s connection with the 13th Royal Sussex in December 1915, noting that he was in England.

By July 1916 it reported that he was in France and that same month, on Friday 14th July, The East Sussex News also reported that he was missing in France. Soldiers Died and The Commonwealth War Graves’ Commission’s (CWGC) Roll of Honour show that Lance-Corporal Albert Plummer died of wounds on 2nd July 1916. He is buried in Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery Souchez. Albert's name is recorded on Chailey’s war memorial and on the wooden panel inside St Peter’s Church. His name is also recorded on the stone tablet inside St Mary The Virgin Church, Westham, Sussex. The CWGC roll of honour notes that Albert Plummer was the son of the late Charles and Caroline Plummer (although they were still alive when he was reported missing) and the husband of Esther Plummer of 3 Andros Close, Chailey. Two of Albert’s brothers, Alexander Plummer and Owen Plummer, were also killed during the First World War; all three brothers being commemorated together on Chailey’s war memorial.

Medal index card courtesy of Ancestry.

Driver C Barker, Royal Engineers

I know precious little about this man.  Barker, Sapper C, RE first appears in Chailey Parish Magazine in December 1916.  In December 1917 his rank is changed to Driver and it is Barker, Driver C, RE that then appears continuously until July 1919.

He is possibly Charles Barker who appears as a thirteen-year-old on the 1911 census, living with his parents and older brother Ernest Barker (aged 23) at Stanley Cottages, Sheffield Park Station. If it is this man, an enlistment in 1916 for an eighteen-year fits in well with him being called up when he reached the age of eighteen. Unfortunately though, no service record appears to survive for this man and there are too many possibilities on medal index cards to be certain of a positive match with the right man.

Harry Banks

Apart from the fact that he is noted in Chailey Parish Magazine in January 1916 as having attested, I know nothing further about Harry Banks.

G/1967 Private Arthur Thomas Washer, 8th Royal Sussex Regt


Arthur Thomas Washer was born at Chailey in late 1893 or early 1894, his birth recorded at Lewes in the March quarter of that year. By the time the 1901 census was taken, he was living with his family in three rooms at Bureet House, North Common, Chailey.  The household comprised Alfred Washer (head, aged 33 and working as a general agricultural labourer), Eliza Washer (his wife, aged 31), and their four children: Alfred (aged ten), Edith Mary (aged eight), Arthur Thomas (aged seven) and Albert Frederick (aged four).

In October 1914, Chailey Parish Magazine noted that Arthur was serving his King & Country, recording the following October that he was serving with the 7th Royal Sussex Regiment in FranceThe following month, November 1915, Arthur Washer is noted as serving with the 8th Royal Sussex Pioneers in France.

The 7th Royal Sussex was a service battalion which had begun recruiting at Chichester on 12th August 1914 and would later form part of the 36th Brigade in the 12th (Eastern) Division.  The 8th Royal Sussex was also a service battalion formed at Chichester in September 1914.  In time, it would form part of the 54th Brigade in the 18th (Eastern) Division.

According to Chailey Parish Magazine, Arthur Washer served with the 8th Royal Sussex Regiment throughout the First World War, his name appearing in all issues from October 1914 right through to the final published roll call in July 1919. The 1914-15 Star medal roll tells us that he was discharged to Class Z Army Reserve on the 8th March 1919 but the British War and Victory Medal also notes that he latterly served with the 1/5th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment.

Arthur Washer’s younger brother Albert Washer also served during the First World War.  The two men were cousins of George Trayton Washer.

Medal index card courtesy Ancestry.

10233 Private George Trayton Washer, 7th East Surrey Regt


George Trayton Washer was born about May 1891 in Fletching, Sussex. His birth was registered in the June quarter of that year at Uckfield (volume 2b, page 131). The 1901 Census reveals George as the only son of George Washer (a 36 year old general labourer) and his wife, Ada Esther Washer (36) living at Oaklands Cottage, North Chailey. As well as nine year old George, the family also comprised his four sisters: Susan Hannah (aged 12), Edith Ada (aged nine), Mary (aged two) and Annie (aged two months). Another sister, Frances, would follow the following year.

Both the 1901 census and Chailey Parish Magazine record George Washer’s first name as Trayton rather than George although the latter appears to be his given name.

George enlisted in the Corps of Hussars at Lewes, Sussex on 7th September 1914. A Cowman by trade, he was certified as five feet seven inches tall, weighed ten stone, seven pounds, had a fair complexion, blue eyes and fair hair. He was posted to the 5th Cavalry Depot at Bristol and given the number 23402. On 15th January he was given his first typhoid inoculation. On 2nd June 1915, George Washer transferred from the cavalry to the infantry, joining the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion of the East Surrey Regiment at Dover. On 15th July he was posted to the 7th Battalion and sent overseas to France.

The 7th East Surreys formed part of the 37th Brigade in the 12th (Eastern) Division and had been overseas since 2nd June 1915. George Washer went proceeded first to the 12th Division infantry base, joining his battalion on 19th August and on 13th October 1915, he was killed in action at the Battle of Loos. Two companies of the 7th East Surreys had been tasked to capture a German trench known as Gun Trench and, although, as the 12th Divisional history states, “the attack had been entirely successful, 16 prisoners, 1 machine gun, 3 trench mortars and a large quantity of ammunition being captured”, the attacking forces had not come out unscathed. George was one of 212 Other Rank casualties sustained in the action. His body was never recovered and his name was later commemorated on the Loos memorial (below).


In March 1916, a meeting of The Ancient Order of Foresters in Chailey reported that “… at the end of the year the Court had 20 members serving in the Army or Navy. I regret to state that the court has lost one young member who died fighting for his country – Bro G T Washer, killed in action in France on October 13th 1915…”

On 22nd June 1919, George's living relatives were noted as: George Washer (father) of Burnt House, North Common, Chailey; Ada Washer (mother), Susan Hannah Campbell (full blood sister), aged 30 (Burnt House), Mary Smith (full blood sister), aged 20 of Sewells Cottages, Barcombe; Annie Washer (full blood sister), aged 18 of 3 Sussex Road, Hove and Frances Washer (full blood sister), aged 17 of Burnt House.

Medal index card courtesy of Ancestry

205127 Corporal Mechanic Henry (Harry) James Urry, RAF

Henry James (Harry) Urry was born in the parish of St John’s, Lewes on 18th May 1891. He appears on the 1901 census of England and Wales living at 21 Sun Street, St John’s with his family. The household comprised: Richard Urry (head, aged 47, a self-employed coal merchant), his wife Naomi Urry (aged 42) and five children: Richard W Urry (aged 19, working as a coal porter), Gertrude Urry (aged 14), John Urry (aged 12), Nelson Urry (aged 11) and Harry (aged nine).

Harry enlisted in The Royal Naval Air Service at Portsmouth on 28th May 1915 for the duration of hostilities. He was five feet nine and a half inches tall, had black hair, brown eyes and a dark complexion.  He gave his occupation as chauffeur and was given the rating of air mechanic 1st class and the number F5127. He was posted to HMS President.

Chailey Parish Magazine notes in August 1915 that he is serving his King and Country and in October 1915 that he is in the Dardanelles with “Aero Wing”. The following month the magazine notes that he is with the RNAS and in August 1916 that he has been wounded. The wound does not appear to have been too serious. There is no mention of it in his surviving service records and by 30th April 1917 he was in Dunkirk, France and latterly Boulogne at an aircraft depot. On 1st April 1918 he was transferred to the newly formed Royal Air Force and given the service number 205127. He gave his next of kin as his mother, Naomi (although this is written as “father” on his Air Force service record) who was still living at 21 Sun Street, Lewes. On 1st July 1918 he was promoted to corporal mechanic and remained in this role until his demob and transfer to the RAF Reserve on 21st May 1919.

Harry Urry was entitled to the British War and Victory Medals and these were despatched to him on 4th May 1922.

219181 Driver Oswald Richard Walden, Royal Field Artillery


Oswald Richard Walden was born in late 1888 or early 1889, his birth recorded in the March quarter of that year at Bridport.  He appears on the 1891 census as a two year old living at Shipton Gorge, Dorset (the place of his birth) with his father (28 year old George Richard Groves Walden; a farmer), his mother (29 year old Martha Joan Walden) and a cousin (22 year old Ellis Thomas Robert Walden, also a farmer and recorded as a nephew of Oswald’s father).  I have been unable to locate him on the 1901 census.

Chailey Parish Magazine first notes him in its February 1916 issue, stating: Walden, Dvr O R, ASC, France.  This information appears up to and including November 1916.  Thereafter, there is no mention of this man in the parish magazine.

Oswald's medal index card (above, courtesy of Ancestry) shows him arriving overseas in France on the 18th July 1915.

17855 Battery Quartermaster Sergeant William Walder, Royal Garrison Artillery


William Walder was born in 1882 and appears for the first time on the 1891 census.  He is recorded as an eight year old,  living at South Street, Chailey with his parents George Walder, (a 46 year old bricklayer from Fletching), Harriet Walder (nee Heasman, aged 48, born in Chailey) and his brothers and sisters:  George Walder (a 22 year old labourer), Ellen Walder (a twelve year old scholar) and John Walder (aged six). There was also another sister – Anne Walder – born in 1872.

As early as July 1915, Chailey Parish Magazine notes that Wiliam Walder is serving his King and Country and in October 1915 notes that he is a sergeant with the Royal Garrison Artillery.  In February 1917 it notes that he is a brigade [sic] quarter master sergeant and this information is then repeated up to and including the final published roll call in July 1919. 
 
No service record appears to survive in WO 363 or WO 364 but thankfully we do get a sketch history of his service from his surviving entry in the Royal Artillery's archive. He originally attested in London on the 22nd January 1904 aged 20 years and three months. At the time he was working as a footman and gave his place of birth as Chailey. His next of kin, if that person were a parent, would have been noted in pencil. However, William was married in 1907, to Thomasine Louisa Pascoe in Falmouth and it is her details which have been over-written in the attestation register. The couple would go on to have three children; William (born 1911), Doris May (born 1912) and Ella Joan (born 1919).
 
William was discharged at Dover on the 21st January 1925 on the termination of his engagement. His address was given as 6 H Battery. I have seen a photograph of William taken in Singapore earlier in his career and wearing a single stripe.
 
William's medal index card, above, is courtesy of Ancestry.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Captain Henry William Towner, Royal Garrison Artillery


Chailey Parish Magazine first mentions Harry Towner in November 1914 when it notes that he is serving his King and Country. In October 1915 it notes his rank – lieutenant – and the fact that he is serving with the Garrison Artillery.

Harry Towner is Henry William Towner, a career soldier who was born at Slaugham, Sussex around 1873. He was the brother of Edgar Lancelot Towner who was also a career soldier having served for twelve years with the Royal Garrison Artillery prior to joining the Canadian Field Artillery. Henry appears on the 1891 census of England and Wales living at South Street, Chailey with his family. The household comprised: Emily Towner (head, widow, aged 45) and four children: Henry (aged 17, working as a gardener), Rose Harriet Towner (aged 11), Edgar Lancelot Towner (a nine year old scholar) and Emily Walls Towner (aged five).

Ten years later, Edgar is still living in Chailey although by now his 21 year old sister Rose (a housekeeper) is noted as the head of the family with Edgar (aged 19) working as a stockman on a farm and his sister Emily noted as being at home with her sister. Their mother had died a few weeks before at the age of 56, her death registered at Lewes in the March quarter of 1901.

By the time the 1901 census was taken, Henry was serving with the British Army. He is noted in the return for South Shoebury, Essex as being stationed at Shoeburyness barracks where he is recorded as a 27 year old unmarried corporal serving with the Royal Garrison Artillery.

Henry arrived overseas with the RGA on the 29th June 1915 as 3822 Quartermaster Sergeant

On 3rd March 1916 the London Gazette noted that “Second Lieutenant H W Towner, Royal Artillery, to be Captain Instructor in Gunnery, to be seconded, and to be temporary Lieutenant. Dated 11th February 1916.” In September it announced that he was to be promoted to Lieutenant, effective from 8th August, and to remain seconded. In February 1917 the East Sussex News reported:

OFFICER PROMOTED
Lieut H Towner RGA, who is well known in the Chailey district, has been promoted again.

This was duly followed up in the parish magazine in May, noting that Towner’s rank was now Captain. There is then little information on Harry Towner. In October 1918 under the heading: Establishments – Schools of Instruction for RH and RFA, The London Gazette noted “Lt (Actg Capt) H W Towner RA, from Asst Supt of Experiments, to be Capt Instr in Gunnery, to retain his acting rank and to remain seconded. 13th June 1918.”

Henry Towner may be related to Timothy Towner who is also noted by Chailey’s parish magazine as serving his King and Country. Medal index card courtesy of Ancestry.