7 May 2010

FIELD George


Sapper 536315, 432 Field Company, Royal Engineers
Died Friday 22nd March 1918
Commemorated: Pozieres Memorial, Somme, Panel 10-13

George Field was born about 1890 in Brighton, the fifth of six sons of Joseph and Martha Field. Both his parents were 'Brighton born and bred' and at the time of the 1901 census the family were living at 11 Foundry Street, Brighton. By 1914 George was living at 11 Myrtle Terrace, Lancing, at the home of his brother William and his wife Sally, and just a few doors away from another Lancing man Herbert Cozens.

By trade George was a metal worker, employed by Banfields, the Brighton scale-makers, and he enlisted in Brighton in 1915, originally into the 2/3rd Home Counties Field Company, Royal Engineers, with the service number 4334. He was twenty-five years old and described in his service record as 5ft 6ins tall, weighing 140 lbs, with a chest measurement of 38 inches fully expanded. He saw service in Italy before being transferred back to the Western Front with 432 Company Royal Engineers. While in Italy he was awarded the Medaglio Al Valore Militare, although it has not been possible to ascertain the exact reason for this.

George Field was killed in action on 22 March 1918, the second day of the German Spring Offensive or 'Kaiserschlacht,' and his service record shows that he did have a proper burial somewhere between Herbecourt and Jeancourt. The fact that he is commemorated on the Pozières Memorial indicates that his grave was either lost in the fighting that followed, or that he now lies in an 'Unknown Soldier' grave in one of the military cemeteries in the area. His death was initially reported in local newspapers in May, together with the news that his younger brother William had been badly gassed in Italy, and then in October 1918 the Sussex Daily News carried the following item:

POSTHUMOUS HONOUR - LANCING - Sapper G. Field, Royal Engineers, of 11 Myrtle Terrace, Lancing, did not live to know of the honour bestowed on him of the King of Italy's bronze medal for valour, his death having already been reported on the field of battle. He was one of six brothers who entered the service, members of a Brighton family. Two of them have already lain down their lives. Sapper G. Field was unmarried, and before the war was in the employ of Banfields the scalemakers.

It is not known whether the two brothers referred to by the papers as having 'lain down their lives' included George, or whether three brothers in total died. Charles Field, a corporal in the 1/6th Warwickshire Regiment was killed in action on 30th April 1918, shortly after George, and of the other four I have confirmed that Harry, William and James were all alive in February 1920, so if the family did lose three sons, it would have been Sidney, the youngest, who made up the trio. By 1920 both Joseph and Martha Field had died, and William Field and his family continued to live at 11 Myrtle Terrace. George Field's name does not appear on Lancing War Memorial, but he is included here as a resident of the village who died during the course of the war.

Pozières Cemetery and Memorial, Somme


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