1 Aug 2010

Lancing War Memorial - the Great War

Lancing War Memorial now stands in South Street, with the Parish Hall on one side, and the church of St. Michael and All Angels on the other, but originally it was erected immediately in front of St. Michael's, and on land belonging to the Church. Between the wars South Street was widened and the Church lost sixteen feet from its land, including the area of the Memorial, and it was at this tiime that it was moved to its present position. It takes the form of a stone cross on a rectangular base, with the names of those who died during the Great War on all four faces, with a second stone base added later to record the names of the men who lost their lives between 1939 and 1945. The wording above the names reads:

'To the Glory of God/
and the memory of Lancing men/
who laid down their lives for their country/
in the Great War 1914-1918'


MEMORIAL NAMES - THE GREAT WAR
A list of names with links to further information can be found by using the 'Lancing War Memorial Names' page at the top of the right-hand menu, or use the search box to find what you're looking for.

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14 Jul 2010

UNIDENTIFIED NAMES


The following names appear on Lancing War Memorial, but it has not been possible to positively identify them from available sources.

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W. G. LAWRENCE

Despite many searches I've been unable to positively identify W. G. Lawrence. The Post Office directories of Lancing for the period 1910-1920 show a 'William Lawrance' as head of household at Yew Tree Cottages, South Street, but always with the different spelling. This is the only reference I have found to the surname in the village at that time, although of course it is possible that this man had no family ties with the village but was working and lodging locally. Some time ago I received information that William Lawrence was serving in the Royal Navy at the outbreak of war and died on board HMS Irresistible when she was involved in action at the Dardanelles on March 18th 1915, subsequently striking a mine and sinking in Kephtx Bay. A report in the Brighton Evening Argus of 20th March 1915 gives the names of Sussex men among the crew, and does indeed include a 'Lawrence, W., Lancing' among those 'believed to be on board.' However, most of the crew were safely evacuated, and W. Lawrence was not among the fourteen men of the ship who were killed or died of wounds received that day. A search of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database reveals no man named 'Lawrence,' 'Lawrance,' or 'Laurence' who fits with the known facts, and a search of the GRO index of naval deaths between 1914 and 1921 is also negative. The index to the Register of Seamen's Service is available to view online from The National Archives, and although there are many men with the right surname and initial, it's not possible to identify any man that has a connection to Lancing.

It seems almost certain that W. G. Lawrence was in the Royal Navy; that he was serving on Irresistible in March 1915, and that he did not return home after the war. Beyond that I have not been able to confirm more concrete facts about his life or his military service.

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E. PINNELL

There was certainly a Pinnell family living in Lancing during the Great War, as the 1918 street directory shows 'A. E. Pinnell, Esq.' as residing at 'Warrenhurst,' the house and market garden that was on the site of present houses in Grinstead Avenue. It seems likely that the person named on the memorial was a member of the family at Warrenhurst, and from information received it seems likely that it refers to an Elsie Pinnell, who was employed as a VAD, a member of a Voluntary Aid Detachment. The GRO death index contains an entry for an Elsie Pinnell, aged 24, whose death was registered in the East Preston registration district during the December quarter 1918. Although enquiries continue, I have not yet been able to confirm this from surviving VAD records.

*****

TREVETT Tom


TOM TREVETT

Private G/7366, 9th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment

Died of Wounds on Saturday 6th April 1918

Buried at Abbeville Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme, Grave III.D.30


Tom Trevett was baptised on the 3rd May 1896 at St. James the Less, North Lancing, the son of Harvey Henry and Louisa Trevett - Harvey Trevett's occupation was given in the parish register as 'Licensed Victualler', although a carpenter by trade, between 1893 and 1899 he was the landlord of the original Farmer's Hotel in Lancing. Harvey was married twice; his first wife Mercy died in 1885 at the age of twenty-three, but the couple had at least two children. His second marriage to Louisa had its difficulties with the death of their first two chidren before Tom's birth in 1896.

Tom Trevett enlisted in Worthing on the 28th June 1915, joining the 9th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment. He was twenty years old, 5ft 11 ins. tall and his occupation was given as grocer's assistant. He gave his next of kin as his mother as although his father was still alive, he was very ill with pulmonary tuberculosis and died at home just five weeks later.
The 9th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment were serving on the Western Front for a large part of the war, and Tom Trevett's death came shortly after the start of the German Spring Offensive of March 1918. The battalion had suffered many casualties, mainly between the 21st and 25th of March, but on the 4th April the battalion war diary shows no significant action, and a casualty list shows Tom Trevett named as the only man wounded that day:

4th April - Battalion less 'B' Company marched off to BOIS de GENTILLES at 5 a.m. where it bivouacked until 2 p.m. [Tom was part of 'D' Company]. 'B' Coy. rejoined at 1.30 p.m. At 2 p.m. Battalion went forward and took up support positions in depth to 24th Divisional Depot Battalion in front of BOIS de GENTILLES on SW side of AMIENS-ROYE Road.

On the 8th April Louisa Trevett received the telegram that she must have dreaded:

Regret to inform you No. G/7366 Private T. Trevett 9th Royal Sussex dangerously ill at No.3 Australian General Hospital Abbeville France. Regret permission to visit cannot be granted.

And the following day:

Regret to inform you No. G/7366 Private T. Trevett 9th Royal Sussex died gunshot wound head April 6th at 3 Australian General Hospital Abbeville France.

Although much information can be found in newspapers which would otherwise be lost, the following two extracts show how much care needs to be taken with interpreting the facts. The first appeared in the Sussex Daily News on April 17th, 1918:

LANCING CASUALTIES - Private T. Trevett, Royal Sussex Regiment, son of Mrs. Harvey Trevett, a widow, living at Rose Cottage, Penhill Road, Lancing, has died from wounds received on the Western Front. He was 22 years of age and single and at one time worked at the London Stores, New Road, Shoreham. He had been in the Army three years, and fell during the German attack at the Western Front, the fatal injury being a gunshot wound in the head. He was acting as dispatch runner.

And the second, again from the Sussex Daily News, this time dated 8th May, 1918:

LANCING MAN'S DISTINCTION - In connection with the death of Private T. Trevett, son of Mrs. Harvey Trevett of Rose Cottage, Penhill Road, Lancing, recently reported, a letter has been received by his mother from an officer of his Brigade, from which it transpires that the Brigadier has recommended him for the Distinguished Conduct Medal. At the time of his death the house where the Headquarters of the Brigade were situated was being shelled. Private Trevett was inside at the time, when a shell exploded in the garden and he was struck by a large fragment, passing away in a short time without recovering consciousness. 'The memory of your son's splendid character still lives' the writer stated.

Two rather different slants on what happened at the time, and Tom certainly lived another two days, during which time he was transferred back to a hospital in Abbeville, probably having been treated initially at a casualty clearing station. But hopefully the letter was of some comfort to Louisa Trevett, who had lost both her husband and her eldest son during the course of the war.

***

12 Jul 2010

TEE Owen Cecil


OWEN CECIL TEE

Private 6902, 3rd Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment

Died on Wednesday 27th September 1916

Buried at St. James the Less Churchyard, North Lancing, Sussex


There are several photographs in local history books of Owen Tee as a child, but despite the compelling evidence that he lived for many years in the village, it has been a difficult process to solve the puzzle of his military service. His name appears on the war memorial, and the date of death on his grave is 29th September 1916. There is an entry on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site for a Cecil Tee of the 19th London Regiment who died on that day and appeared to fit the bill. But on searching more deeply there were several things which seemed at odds with the details of the man I was researching and so I had to start again.

Owen Cecil Tee was born on the 6th May 1898 in Alresford, Hampshire, the son of Annie Rose and Thomas Tee, and I will use the name 'Cecil' as I believe this was the name by which he was commonly known. At the time of the 1901 census he was living with his grandparents in Alresford, and I've been unable to trace either of his parents at that time. The family came to Lancing in the autumn of 1910 and moved to 6, Cecil Road - these houses were built in 1903 and were the first new houses to have the luxury of a bathroom. The admissions register for North Lancing School shows that Cecil Tee and his sister Connie joined the school on the 24th October 1910. By 1911 he was at the Watts Naval Training School in Bintree, Norfolk, which was part of Dr. Barnardo's Homes, although later evidence shows that both his parents were still alive at that time.

It seems likely that Cecil Tee had always suffered from poor health, but he enlisted into the 3rd Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment on the 26th May 1915, just after his seventeenth birthday, giving his age as nineteen and his occupation as 'shop assistant.' His mother was given as his sole next of kin. His service record has survived, but few details remain. He was discharged from the Army on 5th July 1916 as 'no longer physically fit for War Service' and there is no evidence that in his year as a soldier he ever served overseas. His record contains a letter that he wrote shortly after his discharge, on 17th July 1916:

Dear Sir
I wish to say I received my discharge papers quite safe as I am now in bed very ill. I am almost helpless as I have no money to support me in any way whatsoever. I am obliged to go on the Pannell [sic] but cannot do so as I have not got the Green Card required to show I am discharged from the Army. Will you please forward the required card before the end of the week as I am entirely depending on my parents which causes offence to do so as my mother is very ill also as I have not heard anything about my Balance Money yet. I am quite Pennyless. By doing this you will greatly oblige.
I remain yours truly
Cecil Tee, late 3rd Royal Sussex Regiment
Chelsea No. 12803


Cecil was very ill indeed, as was his mother, and within three months they were both dead. Cecil died on the 27th September 1916, aged eighteen, his cause of death being given as pernicious anaemia and syncope [collapse] and his father was present at his death. Pernicious anaemia is caused by the body's inability to absorb vitamin B12 from food and today it is easily treatable. But at that time there was no cure and he must have been suffering for a considerable time prior to his death. His mother died two weeks later, and they are buried together in the churchyard at St. James the Less, North Lancing. The inscription on the grave reads:

In fond and loving memory of Annie Rose Tee, who departed this life 13th October 1916 aged 48 years. Also Owen Cecil, second beloved son of the above who died 29th September 1916 aged 18 years.
Nothing in my hand I bring
Simply to thy cross I cling


Because Cecil Tee had already been discharged from the Army and his discharge was not attributable to injury of disease caused by his military service, he did not receive a pension, and does not appear on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Roll of Honour. He does however appear on Lancing war memorial, perhaps because the village felt that some tribute was due to his father Thomas Tee, who lost both his wife and his son during the war, although not as a direct result of it.


*****

STRUDWICK Ernest


ERNEST STRUDWICK
Gunner 374377, 173rd Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery
Killed in Action on Thursday 21st March 1918
Commemorated: Arras Memorial, Pas-de-Calais, Bay 1

Ernest Strudwick was born in Thakeham, Sussex, and baptised there on December 6th, 1885, the eldest child of Alfred and Deborah Strudwick. The family moved to Lancing in 1890, and in 1905 Ernest married Rose Grinyer. Their family quickly grew and by 1911 they were living at St. Kilda, Penhill Road with children Dorothy, Percy and Gertrude, while Ernest worked as a garden labourer. But unlike the majority of Lancing men he did not continue in that employment, and by the outbreak of war had joined the staff at the Southern Railway Carriage Works in Lancing where he worked as a lifter. In 1909 the works had been relocated from Brighton and many of the workers were not local men. The Carriage Works War Memorial names seventy-six men employed there who lost their lives during the Great War, but Ernest Strudwick is the only one known to be a Lancing man, and the only one to appear on both memorials. That the Carriage Works lost twice as many men to the war than the village gives some idea of the scale of industry that was taking place there at that time.

Ernest Strudwick's service record has not survived, neither have I been able to trace a unit war diary, but from his medal entitlement it is known that he did not leave England until after the beginning of 1916. At that time he was living at 4, Salt Lake, and as the father of four small children it must have been hard for him to leave them and his wife Rose for a life of military service. He died on 21st March 1918, yet another Lancing casualty of the German Spring Offensive or 'Kaiserschlacht' and one of six local men to die in the following ten days. At 4.40 a.m. on the morning of the 21st thousands of German guns opened a violent bombardement which was to last for five hours, followed by an infantry assault so massive that many units were quickly overwhelmed. A report in the Sussex Daily News of 25th September 1918 gives news of the Strudwick family and some idea of how Ernest met his death that day:

LANCING MAN IN HOSPITAL - Giving three sons to the Army, of whom one has been killed and one severely wounded, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Strudwick, of 23 Joyce Cottages, North Lancing, have shared the lot of many during the present war. One son, Private A. C. Strudwick, Royal Fusiliers, has had what may be termed a remarkable escape from death. He received a bullet wound deep in the neck, but providentially no big blood vessel was injured. He is at present in hospital at Orpington. Not quite nineteen, he enlisted in November 1917, and went to the Western Front in March of the present year at the time of the great German Offensive. The son who was killed, Gunner E. Strudwick, Royal Garrison Artillery, was a lifter at the Railway Works when he enrolled in August 1914. He was instantaneously killed by a shell in the spring of this year, and he is buried where he fell, the place being again in British hands. He age was thirty-two, and he leaves a widow and four children. The other son serving is Driver H. Strudwick, Army Service Corps, who was formerly in the employ of Mr. D. Gooderham, market gardener.
[The other two brothers mentioned above are Alfred and Horace Strudwick]

Although Ernest Strudwick may have had a burial at the time, he now has no known grave and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial to the Missing. Rose Strudwick is buried in the extension churchyard at St. James the Less, North Lancing, the inscription a reminder of the children her husband left behind:

'In loving memory of our dear mother and father
Rose Strudwick passed on 3rd July 1936 aged 53
Ernest Strudwick killed in France 21st March 1918 aged 32.'


*****

There is now a Facebook page dedicated to the officers and men of 173rd Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery here:


SCUTT Thomas William

THOMAS WILLIAM SCUTT
Private G/3304, 7th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment
Killed in Action on Friday 4th August 1916

Commemorated: Thiepval Memorial, Somme, Pier and Face 7c


Thomas Scutt's name appears on Worthing war memorial rather than in Lancing but he is included as a man born here, and whose mother was a member of one of the largest extended families in the village. Caroline Riddles married George Scutt, an agricultural labourer, at Lancing Parish Church on 22nd May, 1858, and all except one of their children were born in the village. The family lived in South Street from the time of their marriage until sometime during the 1890s when they moved to Worthing. By 1911 Thomas was still single and living in Worthing where he worked as a bricklayer's labourer.

Tom Scutt's service record has not survived, but his service number suggests that he enlisted very early in the war into the 7th (Service Battalion) Royal Sussex Regiment. His medal index card gives his date of entry into France as 31st August 1915, and by luck he is mentioned by name in 'The History of the Seventh (Service) Battalion The Royal Sussex Regiment, 1914-1919" which gives a brief but wonderful glimpse into his service life:

"Sergeant Major Hanlon also contributes a reminiscence of the 'Lilliputians,' a section of men in 13 Platoon, small in stature, but great in heart:-
'The Lilliputians had a bad time that day, for although hot food was available in the village, few managed to get any. However, they did manage to produce some tea by the aid of four candles and little pieces of wood. I can see them even now, Corporal W. Baker, Lance-Corporal E. Stoner and Private T. Scutt, huddled up in a small shelter, with an old sheet to keep the light from showing. I doubt if the dixie ever boiled, but I have never tasted better tea since.'"


By early August 1916 the battalion, as part of 36th Brigade, had been in action on the Somme for a month, and at least two other Lancing men were part of the same battalion. William Dykes had died at Ovillers on July 7th, and Captain Hugh Bowlby, son of the headmaster of Lancing College, was one of the company commanders. On the 3rd and 4th of August, in conjunction with the 8th and 9th Battalions, Royal Fusiliers, the 7th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment attacked and took Ration Trench, north-west of Pozières. The following extract is taken from the battalion war diary for the 4th August [WO95/1856]:

At 3 a.m. received orders to send one Company over to RATION trench to get in touch with 8th Royal Fusiliers and work up to the right; also one Platoon to attack strong point on the right, after this had been captured they were to work down RATION and get in touch with A Company. A Company went too much to the left, but reached RATION trench finding the Buffs already there. Col. Cope (O.C. Buffs) ordered A Coy. to push forward and take the ridge, which they reached without any difficulty, but were heavily counter-attacked and obliged to fall back to RATION trench. The Platoon on the right came under heavy machine gun fire and were not able to capture the strong point. Later in the day orders were received for two Companies to attack the right of RATION trench in conjunction with attack of 9th Royal Fusiliers. Two Platoons were again to attack strong point on right from POZIERS trench. B and D Companies attacked across the open but lost direction, some however reached their objective and got in touch with 9th Royal Fusiliers. The two Platoons of C Company were unable to capture Strong point, owing to heavy machine gun fire. The result of this operation was that practically the whole of RATION trench was captured and consolidated.
Casualties during two days: 2nd Lieuts. Wood, Le Doux Veitch, killed; 2nd Lieuts. Cooke, Fitzsimmons, Rolfe, missing; Capt. Trower, 2nd Lieuts. D. Alton, Glenister, Howe, Browning, wounded. Other Ranks, 18 killed, 25 missing, 109 wounded.


Among the men to die that day was Tom Scutt - he has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing, his name among the 72,000 officers and men of the British and South African forces who died on the Somme before March 1918 and who have no known grave. The Scutts were a large family and the name continues today with many people with the surname living locally - undoubtedly quite a few are related to Tom Scutt.


Thomas Scutt's name engraved on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing, Somme

*****

11 Jul 2010

SCOONES Archibald John

ARCHIBALD JOHN SCOONES
Sergeant 926316, D Battery, 290th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery
Killed in Action on Saturday 23rd March, 1918
Commemorated: Pozières Memorial, Somme, Panel 7 to 10


Archibald Scoones was born in Camberwell in 1887, the son of Edward and Kate Scoones. At the time of the 1911 census the family were still in London and living at 75 Arran Road, Catford. Edward was the manager at a factory making toilet preparations, and both Archibald and his younger brother Horace were clerks in the same business. It's not known when they moved to Lancing, but Edward Scoones must have either been relatively successful, or perhaps had inherited money, as by the outbreak of war they were living at Laurel Lodge, North Road, Lancing, a large detached house just south of Monks Farm, and opposite the present turning for North Farm Road. Archibald Scoones' service record does not survive at The National Archives, but it is known that he joined the army in September 1914, enlisting in Lewisham, while resident in Lancing.

He must have proved an efficient and responsible soldier, as three and a half years on he had reached the rank of Sergeant. Unfortunately, like several other Lancing men, the German Spring Offensive or 'Kaiserschlacht' of 1918 was to be his last action. The Battalion war diary held at the National Archives [WO95/2995] shows that his unit was about 20 miles south of St. Quentin, near Chauny, and withdrawing daily. They had lost heavily on March 21st, with casualties of 122 officers and men killed, injured or captured, and also 16 horses. There is no mention in the diary of casualties on the 23rd March, but the nature of Archie Scoones death was mentioned in the Sussex Daily News on 20th May 1918:

SERGEANT A. J. SCOONES - LANCING - Mr. and Mrs Scoones of Laurel Lodge, Lancing, have sustained a bereavement by the war, their son Sgt. A. J. Scoones, Royal Field Artillery, having been killed by a shell on the Western Front. Enlisting in September 1914 he had been in this theatre of war since January 1917. He was thirty-one and single.

Archibald Scoones has no known grave and is commemorated on the Pozières Memorial, Somme - his name does not appear on Lancing War Memorial as his parents left Lancing in about 1920 and moved to Maidenhead, Berkshire, but he is included here as a Lancing man throughout the war years. However, his name does appear on the war memorial of St. Peter, Brockley, in the Borough of Lewisham - the area that he and his family knew as 'home.'


Archibald Scoones name engraved on a panel at the Pozières Memorial, Somme

*****

5 Jul 2010

READ Frederick


FREDERICK READ

Driver 56776, 82nd Battery, Royal Field Artillery
Died on Saturday 30th September 1916
Commemorated on Basra Memorial, Iraq, Panel 3 and 60

Frederick Read's name does not appear on Lancing war memorial, and he is included here as one of the sons of a large family living in Lancing during the war. Trying to identify that family and their roots proved difficult at first, the surname being a common one, but slowly the pieces came together. Frederick was born in 1892 in Edmondsham, Dorset, the son of George and Fanny Read. Both parents were from Dorset, and in 1891 the family were in Edmondsham where George worked as a sawyer and by 1901 they had moved a little farther south to Canford Magna.

Fred was a regular soldier and had enlisted into the Royal Artillery at Fort Purbrook, Hampshire some years before the Great War. The 1911 census shows him as a driver with 82nd Battery, Royal Field Artillery, in Kirkee India. As part of 10th Brigade, the unit were still in India at the outbreak of war, and the war diary held at The National Archives [WO95/5117] shows that they received orders to mobilise on September 9th 1914, and they left Bombay on 8th November 1914 on the S.S. Torilla, as part of 6th [Poona] Division, disembarking at Saihan eight days later. On the 12th August 1916 the Sussex Daily News carried the following story about the Read brothers military service:

FIVE SOLDIER SONS - LANCING - Five sons of Mr. and Mrs. G. Read of New Salts Farm Cottages are serving their country. They are:
Cpl. E. G. Read - Royal Sussex Regiment

L/Cpl. A. S. Read - Royal Munster Fusiliers

L/Cpl. W. H. Read - Royal Sussex Regiment

Driver F. Read - Royal Field Artillery

Private S. H. Read


Driver F. Read R.F.A., was at Kut and was taken prisoner when the Turks captured the British Garrison there. L/Cpl. W. H. Read, Royal Sussex Regiment, who was gassed and wounded on the Western Front, has just completed his ten days leave after recovering from his injuries. L/Cpl. A. S. Read, Royal Munster Fusiliers, who was wounded at the Dardanelles in 1915, has still no any use in one of his arms and is now in Ireland. Cpl. E. G. Read, Royal Sussex Regiment, is still in France, and beyond one spell of illness has come through alright so far. Private S. H. Read, the youngest, had served about a year in the forces when he was invalided out. He has, however, managed to pass for service again, although it is not quite certain in what Regiment he will be serving.


During the siege of Kut many men died as disease ran riot through the garrison, and decimated the ranks of men already weakened by starvation. Following the surrender, the situation did not improve. The weakened men were force marched, beaten, tortured and executed by the Turks, most of them dying either in prison camps in Asiatic Turkey, or on the journey there. 6th Division 'died a prisoner' with the death of 1,700 other ranks out of a total of just over 2,500, and the Indian dead of the Division numbered more than 2,500. It was more than two years before the few survivors were freed. It is poignant that Fred Read's name was still included in the Absent Voter's list of October 1918 - presumably his family still held out hope for his safe return. The officers who were captured fared much better than their men, among them another Lancing man, Basil Peel, son of Edmund Peel, vicar of Lancing. Basil Peel was a staff officer to General Townshend, much decorated, and finally repatriated in December 1918.

Fred Read is recorded as having died of illness or disease on September 30th, 1916, probably in a prison camp in Anatolia. It is known that the bodies of other men of his Battery who died at around the same time were exhumed after the war and re-interred at Baghdad (North Gate) Cemetery, but Fred has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Basra Memorial to the Missing, which commemorates more than 40,000 men of the Commonwealth forces who died in Mesopotamia between 1914 and 1921 and who have no known grave.

The other Read brothers who are named above were:
Edwin George Read, Albert Read, Sidney Herbert Read and Walter Henry Read.

*****

4 Jul 2010

PRIOR Charles James


CHARLES JAMES PRIOR

Rifleman 1214, 3rd Battalion Rifle Brigade
Killed in Action on Wednesday 23rd December 1914

Commemorated: Ploegsteert Memorial, Comines-Warneton, Belgium, Panel 10


Charles Prior was not a Lancing man and his name does not appear on the war memorial, but he was a member of the village community at the outbreak of war and has an interesting tale to tell, so will be included here. He was born in Westgate, Chichester, the son of Nathaniel and Mahala Prior. His father was an engine driver and he was one of at least six children.

At the age of eighteen he joined the Army, enlisting into the 4th Battalion, Rifle Brigade, as Rifleman 1214 and his occupation prior to enlistment was given as 'Porter.' His service record shows that he had several admissions to hospital but all for minor illnesses, and his conduct was generally good. In September 1911, while in Cairo, he was drunk on returning to barracks one night and received eight days confined to barracks as punishment, but this appears to have been an isolated incident. In February 1914, after having served for eight years and three months he left the Army, returned from Delhi where he was serving, and transferred to the Army Reserve for the rest of his twelve year engagement. He returned to Chichester and found work once again as a porter, but in May 1914 he applied to join the West Sussex Constabulary. At that time many police officers were former regular soldiers and Charles Prior was accepted, and after initial training he was stationed at Lancing from 19th June 1914.

When a regular soldier was transferred to the Army Reserve he was liable for recall to his unit immediately on the outbreak of hostilities, so with war growing ever nearer during the summer of 1914, these men must have been aware that their civilian lives were drawing to a close, for a while at least. The final entries for Charles Prior in the West Sussex Constabulary Examination Book report:

3rd August 1914: Called upon to resign for being drunk in uniform at Lancing on the night of the 1st August 1914. Date of removal from the Force - 3rd August 1914.

It's interesting to speculate on the reasons for Charlie Prior's actions - his eight years as a regular soldier had only led to one charge of drunken behaviour, so it was not a regular occurrence. Maybe the thought of returning to his unit and war was unbearable to him after such a short time as a civilian with a new life and a responsible job; or perhaps as a highly trained soldier in a respected regiment he was delighted to be facing the enemy in battle at last - no-one will ever know. The next day, 4th August 1914, he would have received a telegram ordering him back to the Rifle Brigade for duty - in that way his dismissal from the Police Force made no difference to the course that his life would now take. On his return, Charles Prior joined the 3rd Battalion, and the following are extracts from the unit war diary held at The National Archives [WO95/1613]:

On the 8th September 1914, the Battalion left Southampton on the S.S. Lake Michigan, having on board the Headquarters of the 17th Infantry Brigade, and the 2nd Battalion, Leinster Regiment, and arrived at St. Nazaire on the 10th, where the boat had to remain outside the harbour until the morning of the 12th while the rest of 6th Division were disembarking ...
... the next 36 days were spent in the trenches near Flamengerie Farm and Bois Grenier during which time the Germans shelled us unpleasantly on several occasions. Still, it was getting near Christmas when we all confidently believed the war would end, and the farmhouses close to the trenches still held chicken and pigs which kept us all in good spirits. On December 15th we left the 16th Infantry Brigade and returned to the 17th Infantry Brigade commanded by Brigadier General Doran, and went into new trenches at Armentières, on the line we had retired to during the fight on the 17th October. Here we did another 34 days without being relieved. Christmas in the trenches will always be remembered by the Battalion as a day of perfect peace during which, by mutual consent, both sides declared a truce. There were many interesting features on this Christmas Day not the least of which was a German juggler who drew a large crowd of Riflemen and Germans in the middle of No Man's Land ...


Unfortunately Charles Prior did not live to be part of the Christmas entertainment, and the 'day of perfect peace.' His service record states simply:

23/12/14 - Killed in action in the Field and buried near Chappelle d'Armentières.

At least he had the dignity of a funeral at that time, although he is commemorated on Ploegsteert Memorial and has no known grave. His body may now lie in a military cemetery in an 'Unknown Soldier' grave, or his original resting place may have been lost in the constant fighting that took place on that ground during the next four years of war. Because of his dismissal from the Police Force on the eve of war, his name does not appear on the memorial tablet at Horsham Police Station, neither does it appear on Chichester war memorial despite continuing family connections with the city post-war. I feel strongly that his long record of service to his country and his short time in Lancing entitles him to be mentioned on these pages.

Charles Prior's name on the Ploegsteert Memorial to the Missing

*****

20 Jun 2010

PAGE Frank Arthur


FRANK ARTHUR PAGE

Lance Corporal 52153, 26th Battalion Royal Fusiliers
Died on Friday 24th October 1919

Buried: St. James the Less Churchyard, Lancing, South of the Church Tower


Since the beginning of the nineteenth century the Page family have been one of Lancing's most prolific families. Although the parish registers are in poor condition it appears that by 1901 all Pages in the village were descended from the same great-grandparents, James and Sarah Page. They had at least seven sons who survived infancy, and Frank Page's grandfather is thought to be the eldest of those sons. Frank was born at the beginning of 1891, the seventh and youngest child of Matthew and Emily Elizabeth Page. Matthew worked for much of his life as a bricklayer, but by 1901 was in poor health and unable to work, the family being supported by the adult children still at home.

Frank Page's service record has not survived, but it's believed that he enlisted in the summer of 1915. The 26th (Service) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) was raised in July 1915 predominantly from bank clerks and accountants, although there is no evidence that Frank came into either of these categories. His battalion went to France in 1916, and then on to Italy in mid-November 1917, and a report in the Sussex Daily News dated 5 April 1918 gives news of Frank and his brothers Sydney and Charles:

During the recent German onslaught Private S. G. Page, Royal Sussex Regiment, one of three Lancing brothers serving, received his second wound. It was in the woods near Albert that he was hit, a bullet entering the leg. He is now in hospital in Reading. Last June, near Ypres, he was hit in the arm. The two other sons of Mrs. Page, Ivy Cottage, are Private C. F. Page, Royal West Kents, who is in Mesopotamia, and Lance Corporal F. A. Page, Royal Fusiliers, who is in hospital in Italy suffering from the privations of campaigning. All three brothers were formerly engaged in the market gardening industry.

However, the newspaper was a little behind the times, as the papers often tended to be. 41st Division had already left Italy, and were back in France on March 18th 1918, and it seems likely from later reports, that Frank was injured as a result of the German Spring Offensive at the end of March. A further item in the Worthing Gazette adds to the information:

LANCE CORPORAL F. PAGE - LANCING - One of three Army brothers, Lance Corporal F. Page, Royal Fusiliers, of 2 Ivy Cottages, Lancing, has been very badly wounded and has had his left leg amputated below the knee. He sustained the injury after he had been transferred from the Italian to the Western Front only a week. His army service extends to nearly three years.

Eventually Frank came home, although no details of the next few months are known, and he died on 24th October 1919, eighteen months after his wounding. He is buried in the graveyard of St. James the Less, North Lancing, where he had been baptised, one of only two Lancing men named on the war memorial to be buried in the village. Frank's brother Sydney, who died on the 17th April 1944, lies alongside him in the same grave.



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