Sunday, February 08, 2015

GSSR/887 Private Frederick Ernest Sweetman, 3rd Royal Sussex Regt

According to his attestation papers, Frederick Ernest Sweetman was born in August 1879 in Wivelsfield, near Chailey, Sussex. He enlisted for one year with the Royal Sussex Regiment Special Reserve on 1st September 1914 giving his age as 35 years and eight days. His birth however, was registered (in the name of Frederick Ernest Sweatman) at Lewes, Sussex in the March quarter of 1879.  He appears on the 1881 and 1891 censuses living at Wivelsfield but by 1901 he appears to have disappeared and it’s quite possible that he was serving overseas with the Royal Sussex Regiment at the time the 1901 census was taken. 

His attestation papers note that he was working as a cowman and that he had previous military experience having served with the 1st Royal Sussex. He was on the National Reserve at the time of his attestation.  

Frederick was five feet six inches tall, with brown eyes and dark hair.  He attested at Haywards Heath and joined the Regiment the same day.  He was given the number GSSR/887 (General Service Special Reserve). 

Frederick remained in England until 24th May 1915 when he sailed fro France.  He returned to England on 30th August that year but sailed again on 25th November.  His second stint abroad was even shorter than his first however, and he was back in Blighty on Christmas Eve 1915.  He was discharged from the Army on 3rd April 1916 as no longer physically fit for war service.  

Frederick’s service record which still exists in the WO 364 pension series at the National Archives in London, notes that he served abroad with the 2nd Royal Sussex Regiment, a regular battalion; but it gives no indication why he was discharged.  No wounds are noted but on his discharge in 1916 he was awarded a conditional pension of ten shillings a week for six months.  

Frederick had married Sarah Anne Jane Packham on 29th April 1902 at Wivelsfield Church and the couple had had two children: Elsie Adelaide (born 11th September 1903) and Lililian Frances (born 3rd May 1905). By the time he joined the army however, Frederick was a widower and his next of kin is noted as Mrs G Kenward of Balneath Cottage, South Common, Chailey.  Mrs Kenward was Adelina Sweetman, Frederick’s sister who had been a witness at his wedding.  Her husband George is also featured on this website. 

During his time in the army, the Chailey Parish Magazine had kept track of him too. In February 1916, it had noted obliquely: Sweetman, Pte F E, Ry Sup, Eng.  Two months later, it had reported that he was with the 2nd Royal Sussex Regiment in England and in May the same year he was reported as being with the 3rd Royal Sussex; then, by November 1916, still in England but invalided. 

In January 1917 he is noted as being invalided and discharged and his name appears in the magazine for the last time in March 1917 as, Sweetman, Pte F E, 3rd Royal Sussex.  Invalided and discharged. 

Frederick received the silver war badge and certificate on 5h March 1917 and the King’s certificate, number 7566, on 29th July 1920.  His address in 1920 is given as The King’s Head, North Common, Chailey.

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