12 Jul 2010

SCUTT Thomas William

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


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