Commemorating and remembering the lives of the men and women of Chailey, Sussex during the Great War 1914-1918 and remembering too the sick and wounded soldiers nursed by Sussex 54 VAD. This is their story.
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
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
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. b
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
received the British War and Victory medals. My thanks to Jim Type for information and also the photo reproduced on this post.