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.
Gunner Arthur Horscraft, RGA, is first mentioned in Chailey Parish
Magazine in December 1917.The following
month he is noted as serving with A[nti] A[ircraft] A[rtillery].His final entry, still serving with AAA is in
Arthur Horscraft was born in Fletching on 21st September 1888.By the time the 1901 census was taken he was
living at Mill Field, Newick with his family.The household comprised Thomas Horscraft (a 47 year old baker working
from home), his wife Caroline (nee Johnson, aged 38) and three children: Percy Basil
Horscaft (aged 14), Arthur Horscraft (aged 12) and Lily Dorothy Horscraft (aged
10).Both the boys worked for their
Arthur had six older sisters who are not noted at the Newick
address on the 1901 census return.In
age order they were: Florence Fanny Horscraft (born 1877 in Newick), Charlotte
Constance Horscraft (born 1878 in Newick), Alice Caroline Horscraft (born 1880
in Newick), Rose Horscraft (born 1881 in Burgess Hill, Sussex), Mabel Horscraft
(born 1882 in Burgess Hill) and Ida Horscraft (born 1885 in Farnham, Surrey).
On 6th November
1915, Arthur married Edith Winifred Packham (born 23rd October 1894) and in
May 1917, their first child was born at their home in Meeching Road, Denton,
Newhaven, East Sussex.
According to notes kept by Arthur’s old headmaster, John Oldaker
of Newick school, Arthur enlisted in the Royal Garrison Artillery on 2nd June
1917.His brother Percy had enlisted in
the Royal Navy on 21st June 1916 and was serving aboard HMS Torrent.
Later, Arthur sent John Oldaker a photograph of himself which had
been taken on 26th July 1917 (above). On the back of it he wrote:
No 164345 Gunr
I thought I
would take this opportunity of sending you one of my photos and I was in London a few Sundays ago
and met Percy there.He told me had
given you one of himself and also told me you were collecting all of the old
school boys.I’m glad to say I’m getting
on alright and having good health, I hope all of your family are quite well,
also Mrs Oldaker and yourself. We are now at Devonport but we shall not be here
for long.Have been at Derby
also and Shoeburyness and Abbey Wood,
Kent and now at
Devonport.Kind regards to all of your
family, I remain
sincerely, A Horscraft
Surviving postcards of Arthur in military uniform (his RGA
shoulder title clearly visible in one photo), reveal that he was certainly
wearing khaki by 26th July
1917.On 16th November 1917 he was stationed at
Invergordon, Rosshire but by 12th
January 1918 he was back with his family.Chailey Parish Magazine, usually so prompt
with its announcements of local men who joined the colours, does not appear to
have picked up on the fact that Arthur had joined up for at least five
months.By this stage though, he was not
a local man anymore.Living in Newhaven,
the news must have filtered back late.
The National Archives does not hold any medal cards for a Royal
Garrison Artilleryman named Arthur Horscraft but there is a card for an Arthur
Horscroft which gives the service number Arthur notes above.
Arthur survived the war and returned home to Denton, Newhaven where he and Edith had six
more children including triplets born in 1929.He died in Denton
on 8th March 1971.Edith died eight years later in 1979.
My thanks to Simon Stevens for the information from John Oldaker's album; also to Sue Hankins and Pauline
Wicks for assisting me with information about their great uncle Arthur.The photograph above was taken at
Invergordon in November 1917 and is reproduced with Pauline Wicks’ permission
George Wood was
born on 16th
August 1886 and appears on the 1901 census as a 14 year old
agricultural labourer living in Chailey village with his family.The family as recorded on the census
comprised Edward Wood (head, aged 45 and working as an agricultural labourer)
and his four sons: Edward (15, agricultural labourer), George, Charles (aged
11) and Harry (aged seven).Whilst
Edward Wood senior had been born in nearby Fletching, all four children were
born in Chailey.There is no indication
of the children’s mother on the 1901 census although their father is recorded
as being married.The 1891 census
however, notes the family living at Westlands Cottage, North Common and there,
Edward, George and Charles appear again (Charles noted as having the middle
initial, J) with both parents: Edward Wood aged 30 and his wife, Mary Wood
(also born in Fletching) aged 29.
enlisted in the Royal Navy on 22nd
February 1904 aged 17.It
was noted that he was five feet, five inches tall, had brown hair, grey eyes
and a fresh complexion.A small scar was
noted on the right of his forehead. He
gave his occupation as Labourer.On
enlistment, George Wood was given the number 229851 and posted to the training
ship HMS Northampton . Due to his
age, he was given the rating of Boy, 2nd Class.
Over the next
ten years, George Wood served on the following ships.His reckonable service began on 16th August 1904
(when he turned 18) and he signed up for 12 years:
HMS Calliope (15th July 1904– 11th October 1904)
HMS Suffolk (13th October 1904– 9th April 1906)
HMS Hecla (7th June 1906– 27th April 1908)
HMS Canopus (28th April 1908– 7th December 1908)
HMS Renown (21st August 1910– 10thJanuary 1911)
HMS Neptune (11th January 1911– 27th January 1913)
HMS Ariadne (7th May 1913– 17th May 1913)
HMS Duncan (24th May 1913– 18th October 1913)
As well as
serving on the ships noted above, George Wood also spent time at the Royal
Naval Gunnery School – HMS Excellent
- on four occasions (8th December 1909 – 20th August 1910,
28th January – 6th May 1913, 18th – 23rd
May 1913 and finally 19th October 1913 – 24th January
1914).He qualified as a Seaman Gunner
on 16th October
1910 and re-qualified on 18th December 1913.
On 25th January 1914,
George Wood transferred again, this time to HMS
Venerable and it was while serving aboard Venerable that war was declared.Wood remained with her until 27th December 1916 when he returned to Portsmouth, remaining
there until 14th
He then served
aboard the following ships:
HMS Greyhound (15th March 1917– 18th September 1917)
HMS Woolwich (17th April 1918– 30th June 1918)
HMS Columbine (1st July 1918– 31st March 1919)
HMS Sandhurst (1st April 1919– 7th May 1919)
time with the Royal Navy, George Wood’s character is noted as Very Good, with
his ability ranging from satisfactory to superior.He was awarded his first Good Conduct badge
on 22nd March
1907, his second on 20th
August 1912 and his third on 19th August 1917.He was deprived of one badge on 2nd August 1918
but awarded another shortly afterwards on 31st January 1919.
finished his service with the Royal Naval rating of Leading Seaman; a rating he
had been promoted to on 3rd
June 1913. George’s brothers Charles Wood and Harry Wood also
served their King and Country during the First World War.
is known about this man; only what was published in Chailey’s parish magazine.
February 1916 Pte H Wilson of the Army Service Corps is reported to be in England.In June 1916 he is reported in France.In February 1917 he is reported as being invalided
and this information - Wilson, Pte H, ASC.Invalided – is then repeated up to and including the final published
roll call in July 1919.
is not enough information to identify who this man is in terms of a medal
index cardand similar
difficulties when trying to find him on census returns.There is nobody with the surname Wilson listed on the 1901
census for Chailey.
John Cecil Glossop Pownall was born in Kensington,
London in 1891,
his birth registered there in June that year.He was the oldest son of Henry Harrison and Blanch Pownall and he
appears on the 1901 census, living with his parents and siblings at Ades, Chailey.Today, Ades still stands but has been divided
into a number of individual flats.At
the time John was living there though, it was a sizeable estate comprising the
main house, Hickwells house on the opposite side of Cinder Hill and acres of
Henry Harrison Pownall had bought the
estate in 1899 after its previous owner, James Croft Ingram had been declared
bankrupt as the result of some unwise investments by his business partner.Henry practiced the law and in 1901 he was a
successful 47 year old barrister living at Ades with his wife Blanch (aged 46)
and their children Kathleen (12), John (10), Percy (8) and Lionel (5).Henry had been born in Bloomsbury,
wife in Richmond,
Surrey.With the exception of Lionel who was born in Reigate,
Surrey, all the other children had been born
in Kensington, London.
Henry also employed a sizeable
contingent of domestics.Appearing on
the 1901 census are Katherine Murdock (governess, aged 42), Margaret Towan
(cook, aged 27), Emma Daniels (house maid, aged 42), Jane Popple (house maid,
aged 22), Laura Turner (house maid, aged 24), Constance Hobden (kitchen maid,
aged 21), Agnes Hobden (Maid, aged 15), Eva Kempton (trade unknown, aged 46),
Frederick Game (butler, aged 34), Jane Game (his wife, aged 30), Evelyn Game
(daughter of Frederick and Jane, age 6), George Wheeler (footman, aged 23),
James Izzard (groom, aged 22) and Albert Leeson, (groom, aged 21).
In Chailey Through The Centuries, by
Edwin Matthias (1996), W G Tharby (born in 1896) recalls that his father worked
as a coachman for Mr Pownall.He recalls
Ades in some detail:
It was like a self contained village with a large park, lake, home farm,
coverts and large gardens.In the
stables my father had grooms to do most of the work while in the house, there
was a large staff consisting of butler, housekeeper, footman, head parlourmaid,
parlourmaids, housemaids, cook, kitchen and scullery maids.
In the servants hall the butler and housekeeper ruled with great dignity
and everyone sat in order of rank for meals.A head gardener and about a dozen under-gardeners looked after the
extensive gardens and the glass houses while a bailiff ran the home farm.There was also a game-keeper.Father had a rent-free cottage with a well
for water and oil lamps and candles.In
addition he received free milk, coal, vegetables, uniform and working suits,
plus £2 a week.When he drove the landau
which had a crest on the highly polished door panels, he looked very smart in
his blue uniform and top hat.He wore a
cockade on one side of his topper.The
groom who sat beside him with folded arms was similarly attired.He had to jump down smartly to open the
carriage door and let down the step when required.On Sunday mornings, when old enough, I
accompanied father to the stables.He
would see the horses were properly groomed and bedded with clean straw.Everything had to be spotlessly clean.The horses were better housed than some human
beings at that time.After his
inspection we returned home to collect mother for church.
At Christmas a large tree was installed in the billiards room.It was brightly decorated and a large pile
of presents stood nearby.Every employee
on the estate, also wives and children, were there to receive a present.The butler handed them to Mr Pownall for the
men and to his wife for the wives and children.On November 5th each year, a
miniature CrystalPalace illumination was
laid on, even a framework to carry set pieces.All employees and families assembled in the billiards room which had
several large windows overlooking the park.Here the display was staged and after the set pieces a large bonfire was
lit and the rockets went up to an accompaniment of oos and ahs.
When harvest was completed on the home farm a real Sussex Harvest
Home was provided and a good roast beef and beer was enjoyed, followed by a
sing-song which was an all male affair.
John Pownall’s medal index card tells
us that he arrived in France
on 24th June 1916.Chailey Parish Magazine notes him for the
first time in October 1916 noting him as Captain C Pownall of the Royal Field
Artillery (which presumably indicates that he was referred to as Cecil rather
than John).In December, the parish magazine
records him as CG Pownall.
14th June 1917 on
page 5860 of the Supplement to The London Gazette, Royal Horse and Royal Field
Artillery, the following information is noted: “The undermentioned to be
Lts.1st June 1916, except where otherwise stated: 2nd
Lt (Temp Capt) J C G Pownall and to retain temp rank of Capt.”
Pownall appears to have served throughout the war and his name appears in the
parish magazine up to and including July 1919.Precious little is known of his service however and to date I have not
been able to find his service record at The National Archives.
Pownall’s younger brother, Lionel Henry Yorke Pownall, also served his King and
Country during the First World War and was killed in action in May 1915.The boys’ sister, Kathleen Etheldred Pownall
was an active member of Sussex 54 VAD.
was born on 25th
February 1893 in Chailey.He
enlisted in The Royal Field Artillery at Guildford on 22nd August
1914, giving his trade or calling as Cowman and his next of kin as his mother,
C Jones of Reanor Cottages, Stolingbury St Mary’s, Dorking, Surrey.
description on enlistment records that he was five feet, three inches tall,
weighed 126 pounds, had a ruddy complexion, brown eyes, dark hair and… six
moles on his back. He was
given the number 85523, the rank of driver and posted to Number 4 Depot at
Woolwich.On 19th October 1914 he was
posted to the 18th Divisional Artillery and then, on the 2nd November that year, to the 18th Divisional Ammunition Column (DAC).
surviving service record it would appear that William did not settle easily
into army routine.On 19th November 1914
he was absent from the Defaulters’ Parade at and confined to barracks for seven days.On 9th January 1915 he was charged with
overstaying his leave from
on 7th January to
on the 9th and deprived of two days’ pay.On 18thJanuary he was charged
with being absent from the stables from
on the 17th until 7am on the 18thand denied another
day’s pay.Inattention on parade on 5th
February cost him another two days confined to barracks and on 22nd
February he was charged with being absent without leave from on 13th February until on the 22nd.He forfeited ten days’ pay but otherwise does
not appear to have been punished.
records note that he was posted to RFA 5c Reserve Brigade on 14thFebruary which may or may not have been behind his decision to go absent
without leave.He resumed duties with
the Reserve Brigade on 23rd February and managed to stay out of
trouble for the next four and a half months before again going absent without
leave from on 5th
July until on the 6th
July.For this he forfeited four days’
pay AA and two days’ pay RW.
Between 27th July and 13th
December 1915, William was in France, Chailey Parish Magazine
noting in October 1915, Pomfrey, Dvr W,
December 1915 and 17th July 1917, William was back on home soil and
being posted to the RFA 5b Reserve Brigade (28th February 1916) and
then 20th Reserve Battery (9th January 1917).On 18th July 1917 he embarked again for France and was
posted to the 19th DAC 10/88 Brigade.His tenure with them did not last long.By 30th October 1917 he was back home and back
with a reserve brigade of artillery.
On 10th November William Pomfrey got married at West Ham and on 15th December he was mustered, his rank now being Gunner.On 21st December 1917 he was caught gambling in
Woolwich Barracks by Sergeant Bell and confined to barracks for three
days.On 28th January, a
daughter, Cecilia Grace Pomfrey was born at Catford.
was posted back to France
for the last time on 26th
August 1918.This time his
rank was Signaller and he was posted to the 5th DAC.He remained with the 5th Division
until demobilization on 1st March 1919.His Protection
Certificate, issued on 1st
February 1919, gives his home address as 4 Penberth Road, Catford SE.
documents in his file at Kew indicate that
William may have spent time at No 2 GeneralHospital, Havre and that
on another occasion his aunt, Miss Pomfrey of 30 Lansdowne Road, Hove,
enquiring about his whereabouts.His
Military History Sheet records that William passed out in signalling.
twelve misdemeanours, mostly for going absent without leave, are noted on
William Pomfrey’s service record although the most severe punishment he ever received
was being confined to barracks or losing pay.As early as November 1916, Chailey Parish Magazine notes that William
has been invalided although this is not borne out by his service record.
James Pointing noted by Chailey Parish Magazine in September 1915 as serving
his King and Country was one of four brothers who served during the First World
was born at Lewes around May 1894 and by the time the 1901 census was taken,
was living at Tomsetts, Chailey with his family.That family comprised James Pointing (senior)
aged 44 and working as a postman, his 40 year old wife Alice (working as a
laundress from home) and their four children: William Pointing (aged 13), Alice
Pointing (aged nine), James Pointing (aged six) and George Pointing (aged
four).A fourth son, 14 year old Frank
Pointing, was boarding at Teague Green, Chailey.
October 1915, the parish magazine notes that Trooper J Pointing is (like his
brother George), serving with the 2nd Sussex Yeomanry in England.By January 1917 however, he is reported to be
a private with the 10th Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment and in
December 1917, a private with a motorised section of the Army Service
Corps.This latter information is then
repeated up to and including the final published roll call in July 1919.
Pointing married Florence Matilda Bennett (1903-1970) about August 1927.He died on 17th October 1962 in Acton, west London.
Pointing’s three brothers Frank, George and William all served during the First
sister, Alice Pointing, is the same Alice Pointing noted as serving with Sussex