Monday, March 16, 2015

240818 Private Erle Bristow, 5th Royal Sussex Regt

Erle Bristow was born around 1894 in Chailey and at the time the 1901 census was taken, was living at North Common with his family.  The family comprised Henry Bristow (head, aged 37 and running his own market gardening business), his wife Emma Esther Bristow (aged 36) and their five children: Henry (aged 13 and working for his father), Ann Bristow (aged 12), Charles Bristow (aged nine), Erle (aged six) and Emily Bristow (aged four). 

Chailey Parish Magazine notes Erle Bristow serving his King & Country in its March 1915 issue.  In October 1915 it reports that he is serving as a private with the 5th Royal Sussex, that information repeated until the final roll call in July 1919. 

The 5th Royal Sussex was formed on 1st April 1908 as part of the newly constituted Territorial Force.  When war was declared in August 1914 the battalion became Army Troops in the Home Counties Division TF and in early 1915 was posted for duty at the Tower of London.  Erle's army number was 5/3109 and when the Territorial Force was re-numbered in February 1917 he was given the new number 240818.  He almost certainly enlisted with Frank Ford of Chailey as the two men’s numbers are almost identical.  Frank’s numbers were 5/3110 and later, 240819. 

The battalion crossed to France on 18th February 1915 and three days later was posted to the 2nd Brigade in the 1st Division.  On 20th August 1915 it became the pioneer battalion of the 48th (South Midland) Division. 

Erle’s brother Charles was killed in action during the First World War.  Chailey resident Reg Philpott recalled that the brothers had arranged to meet up in France but before they were able to do this, Charles was killed.

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