Sunday, October 26, 2014

William H Stevens, 9th Royal Sussex Regiment

In October 1915, Chailey Parish Magazine notes that a Private W Stevens of the 9th Royal Sussex is in England.  From November 1915 until November 1916, additional information states that Private Stevens is a prisoner in Germany.  From December 1916 until July 1919, the fact that Stevens is a prisoner is noted although no location is given. 

The 9th Royal Sussex was a New Army battalion formed at Chichester in September 1914.  It formed part of the 73rd Brigade in the 24th Division and first saw action when rushed up at the Battle of Loos on 26th September 1915.  It seems probable that Private Stevens was one of the 24th Division’s many casualties on that day and, if so, means that he would only have been overseas a few days before being captured. 

He is probably William H Stevens who, at the time the 1901 census was taken, was living with his family at Wapsbourne Garden Cottage.  The household comprised James Stevens (head, aged 45, working as a farm labourer), his wife Ellen Stevens (aged 40) and their four children: Alice Stevens (aged ten), William (aged eight), James Stevens (aged five) and Frank Stevens (aged three).  There were other children too, not living at Wapsbourne in 1901.  The 1891 census notes Annie K Stevens (aged six) and Emily J Stevens (aged four). 

Living close by at Wapsbourne Farm Cottage were William’s cousins and his uncle and aunt. 

Their household comprised John Stevens (head, aged 40, working as a thrashing engine driver), his wife Sarah (aged 41) and their four children: Albert Stevens (aged 13, working as a stock boy on a farm), Margaret Stevens (aged 11), William Stevens (aged six) and George Stevens (aged two).   

Chailey Parish Magazine notes nine men with the surname Stevens who served their King and Country during the First World War.  If W Stevens is William H Stevens, his brother Frank certainly served (and was killed in action) and so too possibly did James (if the J Stevens mentioned by Chailey Parish magazine is the same James Stevens).  In addition it seems likely that his cousins Albert, George and William Stevens also served.

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