20 Jun 2010

PAGE Frank Arthur


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.


12 Jun 2010

NUTLEY George Albert Bernard


Private TF/201048, 4th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment

Killed in Action on Thursday 1st August 1918

Commemorated: Soissons Memorial, Aisne, France

George Nutley was baptised on the 4th October 1896 at the church of St. James the Less, North Lancing, the youngest of the three children of Charles and Mary Jane Nutley. Neither Charles nor Mary Jane were originally from the local area, but by 1901 they had settled at Salt Lake, Lancing, which now forms part of Freshbrook Road. By 1911 Charles Nutley and both his sons were working as market gardeners, in common with the majority of local working men.

As George Nutley's service record does not survive at The National Archives exact details are not known, but it is believed that George and his brother Arthur enlisted together at Horsham into the 4th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment in early July 1915, and joined their battalion in Egypt in December of that year, where they were to stay for the next two and a half years. During that time their mother died, and the Sussex Daily News reported on the 31st January 1918:

PRIVATE G. A. B. NUTLEY - LANCING - It is a pathetic circumstance that while two Lancing brothers are fighting in Mesopotamia, their mother has recently passed away. Their home is at Salt Lake, Lancing. One, Private G. A. B. Nutley, Royal SussexRegiment, who was formerly in a market garden, has sustained a bayonet wound in the chest, but no further tidings have been forthcoming of him. The older brother is Private A. J. Nutley, also of the County Regiment, and in peace time an assistant to Messrs. Potter and Bailey, grocers etc. Both enlisted two and a half years ago.

By theh summer of 1918 the Battalion had returned from Palestine and were on the Western Front, and the unit war diary, held at The National Archives [WO95/2458] gives details of the action on August 1st, the day that George Nutley died:

4.45 a.m. The line advanced through the Bois de Beugneux. The enemy retired in disorder leaving many machine guns in our hands. A number were killed with the bayonet and prisoners were taken.
6 a.m
. The Beugneux-Cordoux Road was crossed and the objective occupied. The Battalion was now in touch with the Queens on the left and the 103rd Brigade on the right. The line was consolidated and the Battalion reorganised.

6.45 a.m
. Orders were received to advance the line for 600 yards.

7 p.m
. The Battalion advanced with Queens on the left and 8th Scottish Rifles on the right, and occupied the line with little opposition, capturing 6 machine guns. The new line was consolidated.

9 p.m
. Our artillery put down an intense barrage, but no enemy was observed by us.

Casualties during action: Other ranks - killed 10; wounded 28; missing 3.

George Nutley was among the casualties that day and a report in the Sussex Daily News on the 18th September 1918 told of his death, and also news of his brother Arthur, still in Egypt and now in the Royal Army Medical Corps:

LANCING MAN KILLED - After just over three years serving with the Colours, Private G. A. Nutley, Royal Sussex Regiment, son of Mr. C. Nutley, Salt Lake, Lancing, has sacrificed his life for his country on the Western Front. He had only been there about a month, having been transferred from Egypt after about two and a half years service in the Near East, during which time he took part in the victorious advance on Jerusalem. He was wounded once during the Palestine Campaign. Since he left this country for foreign service in December 1915, this young soldier, who was in his twenty-second year, had never been home on leave, and his mother died while he was away. He was formerly engaged in the Market Gardening industry. His elder brother Private A. Nutley, Royal Army Medical Corps, is in Egypt, where he has been in hospital twice since being home on leave.

George Nutley has no known grave and his name appears on the memorial at Soissons, in the Aisne region of France. The memorial commemorates 4,000 officers and men of the UK forces who died during the Battles of the Aisne and Marne in 1918 and who have no known grave.


11 Jun 2010

NORRIS Sidney Harold


Rifleman 6619, Rifle Brigade, attached 2/10th Battalion, London Regiment
Killed in Action on Sunday 31st March 1918

Commemorated: Pozières Memorial, Somme, Panel 81-84

Sidney Norris was not a Lancing man by birth and it has been difficult to trace his connection with the village, but the appearance of his name on the memorial indicates someone's wish that he should be remembered locally. He was born in Clapham, London, in 1893, the second child of Charles and Esther Norris. At the time of the 1901 census the family were living in Bramwell Street, Clapham, and the five children had all been born in Clapham or neighbouring Battersea. To go forward in time, the information given by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission shows that after the war, when information about those who died was collated, his father Charles was still living in Battersea.

Sidney Norris enlisted in Worthing while resident in Lancing, but as his service record does not survive, no date can be given for this. He originally joined the Army Service Corps as a driver, with the number T/36004, and then later transferred to the Rifle Brigade with the number 6619. The move from the Army Service Corps to a fairly elite regiment such as the Rifle Brigade was a major one, and may have been one of personal choice rather than reorganisation of personnel. He arrived in France on 24 February 1915, relatively early in the war, but his movements cannot be traced until the time of his death, when he was attached to the a battalion of the London Regiment. On 21 March 1918 the Germans had launched a major offensive along much of the southern section of the British front line, and they had pushed forward, re-taking much of the ground they lost in the previous two years. By the 31st March the 2/10th Londons were just south of Chauny and the main area of attack, and seem to have escaped the worst of the fighting during the previous week. Their unit war diary held at The National Archives [WO95/3009] shows that on the whole their sector was fairly quiet, although they could hear heavy fighting to their north and see enemy transport and troops advancing. The entry for the day that Sidney Norris died states:

BUTTES DE ROUY shelled. Direct hit on OP [observation post]. Casualties 1 OR killed. Situation otherwise quiet.

A check of 'Soldiers Died in the Great War' CD, and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website show that three men of the battalion were killed in action that day; one man, in common with Sidney Norris, is commemorated on the Pozières Memorial, while the other is buried in nearby Chauny Communal Cemetery Extension. I have found no reports of his death in local papers, and I have no knowledge of his Lancing connections. The 1915 Blue Book of Worthing gives one entry for that surname in Lancing, an Edwin Norris who was living at Dairy Cottage, one of the outlying residences, and it's possible that this was a relative or perhaps Sidney's home address. I would glad of any further information that could shed light on his life and work in the village.