14 Jul 2009



Sergeant 47552, 29 Battery 42nd Brigade Royal Field Artillery
Killed in Action on Friday 30th August 1918
Achiet-le-Grand Communal Cemetery Extension, Grave II.L.6

Reginald Bashford had the longest wartime service of all the Lancing men who lost their lives in the Great War. He was born on the 18th September 1888 and baptised at St. James the Less, Lancing, on 4th November, the third child of John and Eliza Bashford. His father worked throughout his life as a market garden labourer, and the older boys followed him into this occupation. The 1901 census of Lancing shows that at twelve years of age Reg had already left school and was working as a grocer's assistant, but he was destined to move a long way from Lancing. In 1907 he joined the Royal Field Artillery - his service record does not survive at The National Archives, but from other sources we know that he travelled widely. When he left the Army in 1914 after six and a half years service, his last posting had been in Lahore, India, and on the 9th March 1914 he was transferred to the Army Reserve and following a few weeks work as a gardener, he was accepted as a police constable with the West Sussex Constabulary. His entry in the Examination Book of the WSC shows him as 5ft 9ins tall with blue eyes, brown hair, and with an eagle and snake tattoo on his left arm. His first posting as PC107 was to Horsham on the 28th May 1914, but his career as a policeman was to be shortlived - as an Army reservist he was recalled to his unit at the declaration of war, and he entered France on the 19th August 1914, following which he was involved in the retreat from Mons - truly one of the 'Old Contemptibles.'

The war diary for 42nd Brigade, Royal Field Artillery shows that at the end of August 1918, after more than four years of war, the British were advancing quickly, capturing their objectives and taking prisoners as they went, and on the 30th August they were in the area around Sapignies. It is now known if Reg Bashford had escaped injury previously during the war - there are no newspaper reports to that effect - just the report of his death in the Sussex Daily News of 14th September 1918:

LANCING SERGEANT KILLED - Mr. and Mrs. John Bashford, 18 Cecil Road, Lancing, have had news of the death of one of their three soldier sons Sergeant R. Bashford, Royal Field Artillery, who was killed at the Western Front on 30th August. He would have been thirty years of age on 18th September and was an old soldier, accompanying the first British Expeditionary Force in the famous Retreat from Mons and thus having passed through four years of warfare. Of the other two sons, Signaller P. Bashford, Royal Engineers, is at the Western Front, while Sub-Conductor F. Bashford, Army Ordnance Corps, is also at one of the battle fronts.

Reginald Bashford's body lies in a grave at Achiet-le-Grand Communal Cemetery extension, Pas-de-Calais, France, just on the edge of the Somme battlefield area, today a sleepy village. The inscription on his grave reads:

Dearly loved and deeply mourned
Till the barrage lifts

Reg Bashford never married, but his nieces and nephews continued to live in the local area, and there are still related Bashford families in Lancing today.

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