William Edward Lucas

William Edward Lucus was born in Brighton in 1897. He died at the age of 18 on the 30th of June 1916 at Ferme de Bois France. His regiment was the Royal Sussex Regiment 12th Battalion and his rank was Private with the service number SD/2357.

Family Life

The 1911 Census shows that Robert Lucas senior, was widowed age 46. This cannot be correct as Mary his wife was still alive in 1919 – as witness – her son Frederick’s MIC on which there is a note:-
“Mrs Lucas applies for 1914 star in respect of the services of her son the late Pte F.G. Lucas 25.4.19” ( He was killed in 1917.)

Research does not show that Mary died between 1901 and 1911. Also William’s gratuity and effects were paid to his mother Mary after this date.
Further a Mary Lucas died in Brighton in 1946 aged 74. This age would link up with her age of 29 from the 1901 census. The death certificate has not been seen to validate this conjecture. It will remain a mystery as to why Robert senior referred to himself as a widower when his wife was still alive.
All three of Robert and Mary’s sons were killed in action. Their daughter Mable married William Cobby. Mable died in 1916 age 27. She had a daughter also called Mable.
By the end of the war Robert senior, his youngest daughter (and his wife Mary) were the only remaining members of the family still living from those recorded on the 1901 census. (Great War Forum)

Robert Henry the eldest son was married at the time of his death to Lily May of Laburnham Cottage, North Berstead nr Bognor. He died on 1st July 1916 from wounds age 23. He was injured the day before on 30.06. 1916. The brothers’ fought together, off’ the Rue Bois . (Roll of honour Royal Sussex Regiment)
Frederick George the middle son was killed in action during the Arras offensive on 3RD May 1917 (roll of honour Royal Sussex Regiment)

Military Carrear

Private William Lucas enlisted in Hove age just 17. Listed in St Peters Memorial Book. Buried in Cabaret Rouge British Cemetery. F 924. (Roll of honour Royal Sussex Regiment)
39th Division moved from Aldershot to Whitley camp to complete its training. Rifles were issued in January 1916 following which the infantry began musketry courses and during February the artillery carried out gunnery practice on Salisbury Plain.
Ferme de Bois 30/06/16 3.5 am
“12th Battalion attacked front and support lines and succeeded in entering same. The support line was occupied for about ½ hour and the front line for 4 hours. The withdrawal was necessitated by the supply of bombs and ammunition giving out and heavy enemy barrage on our from line communication trenches, preventing being sent forward.” (Battalion war Diary)
Loses were so great that the date was thereafter referred to as ‘the day Sussex died.’


George Edward Spencer Shirley Catt

Family life

George Edward Spencer Shirley Catt was born on 20th October 1892 in Ore, which is now part of Hastings East Sussex. George is first found in the 1901 Census as a seven year old schoolboy living with his parents and his younger brother. The family appears to be living in a cottage which is part of the Grange School in Ore.

Home life

George was the first child of his father George and mother Ellen. His father was a jobbing gardener. Leonard, his younger brother was born in 1900 in Whitstable, Kent although apart from the birth record no reason can be found to explain the location of the birth.

The 1911 census found that George, who is now 17 and is working as a market gardener. His father is still a gardener. Leonard is still at school and George has a new brother Freddie who was born in 1908 in Ore.

On 1st April 1914 George became a Police Constable with the Brighton Borough Police Force. It is not known where he was living at the time. It is interesting to note that he joined Brighton Borough Police on the same day as Jack Cheesman.

Military career

George appears on both WW1 Plaques within The Old Police Museum Cells at Brighton. He is shown to be with The Royal Sussex Regiment.

George applied to the Chief Constable William Gentle for permission to leave the Brighton Borough Police Force which was granted. His leaving date was 10th May 1915. George attested on 11th May 1915 at Brighton, Sussex, along with William Clinch, Jack Cheesman, Richard Lintott and Sid Millen.

George declared his age to be 21 years 9 months. On 21st May along with PC Arthur Avis, PC Jack Cheesman and PC William Clinch he was posted to 10th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment for training at Colchester until 13th September 1915.

George was allocated service number 6819. His record does not show the number prefixed with the letters “GS”, which was used to signify that the soldier was conscripted for “General Service”.

After initial training George was posted to Shoreham Depot between 13th September 1915 to 25th November 1915. He was promoted to being a paid Lance Corporal.

On 25th November 1915 he was posted to France to join the 9th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment. The 9th “Service” Battalion was raised at Chichester in 1914.

January 1916 found George still with the 9th Battalion in France. The Battalion first entered the trenches at Zouave Wood on the 18th where significant enemy shell and sniper fire was experienced for four days until relief arrived. The Battalion was so close to the enemy line that gas masks had to be worn day and night.

Heavy shelling continued into February near Hooge where the 9th were still occupying trenches. On 13th February the Germans put down a tremendous bombardment over the British front line causing a great deal of damage. 30 casualties along with several fatalities were recorded. It was as a result of this action that George received a gunshot wound to his right shoulder.

George was sent the same day to 72nd Field Ambulance This was a mobile medical unit, not a vehicle. Each British division had three such units, as well as a specialist medical sanitary unit. The Field Ambulances provided bearer posts but also established main and advanced (that is, forward) dressing stations, where a casualty could receive further treatment and be put in such a condition where he could be evacuated to a Casualty Clearing Station. Men who were ill or injured would also be sent to the Dressing Stations and in many cases returned to their unit after first aid or some primary care.

On the following day he was taken to number 10 Casualty Clearing Station at Poperinghe and then onwards to number 15 Casualty Clearing Station. He was discharged from the clearing station after 7 days and returned to duty.

April and May and June were relatively quiet until the 17th June when the Germans gas bombed the Battalions position. The Battalion was moved away after a tirade of shelling and enemy fire, only to return to the trenches on 20th June.

The 6th July brought the Battalion out of the trenches for a period of rest, only for them to return on 11th where on 20th they were relieved and moved by buses and trains away from the Ypres area and travelled to Montagne.

August continued to see the 9th Battalion in the thick of it, and was involved in hand to hand fighting in the village of Guillemont where over the course of two days casualties amounted to 7 officers and 183 other ranks. After 7 days rest they were again in the trenches where they were attacked by the Germans after heavy bombardment on 31st August. The 9th managed to hold on and repulsed the attacking party. 30 men were killed and 80 injured. The problem was exasperated by the complete lack of food and water during continued attack.

September saw the Battalion moved by trains and lorries to Camblain-l’Abbe  and finally on 24th to Villers-au-Bois. George is wounded after a Howitzer was fired in his close proximity on 25th September 1916. There is no detail in the war diary to explain the injury; however he was suffering from Otitis which is an inflammation of the ear. He was sent to 73rd Field Ambulance and onward to number 23 Casualty Clearing Station where he remained until 26th September 1916. His condition did not improve. On 27th September he was transferred to the 18th General Hospital at Camiers which is situated south of Boulogne. On 30th September 1916 George was transferred to one of the Auxiliary Hospitals in Exeter. He is suffering from nervous debility (Neurasthenia or in modern days “Shell Shock”)

Whilst in hospital George is posted to 3rd Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment Depot. He is discharged to duty on 25th October 1916. It is uncertain where he went at this time, but he is shown at the Command depot on 8th December 1916.

On 11th December it would appear that George was still suffering from shell shock and was sent from the depot in Newhaven to Hospital. The sequence of events are unclear at this point however because on 15th January 1917 George was once again in hospital with phimosis. He is at the Eastern Hospital until 14th February 1917 when he was transferred to Summerdown Camp, Eastbourne until 21st April 1917 having undergone a circumcision. He was discharged to duty back to 3rd Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment. Reserve Battalion.

On 18th July 1917 George is transferred to The Kings Own Scots Borders. His new service number is 32130. George is posted to Farm work to assist his recovery between 7th August 1917 to 6th September 1971 when he returned to Depot

On 19th January 1918 George was once again in hospital. He was still complaining of Neurasthenia (a medical condition characterised by lassitude, fatigue, headache and irritability, associated chiefly with emotional disturbance). He was sent to King George Fifth hospital in Dublin until 8th February 1918 which was a Red Cross Hospital. On 8th February he was discharged from the hospital. The recommendation was for him to find work within the Army or to be discharged permanently as unfit to serve.

On 22nd February 1918 George is transferred to 11th Royal Scots Fusiliers. His new service number is 51966. On 20th March 1918 George had a septic heel and was with the 330th Field Ambulance in London. He received treatment and was returned to duty on 2nd April 1918.

George returned to the Fusiliers and had some leave between 10th July and 14th July 1918. On 27th July he was promoted back to a paid Acting Lance Corporal and on 22nd August he was promoted to a paid Lance Corporal.

On 30th November he was posted to the 13th Royal Scottish Fusiliers School of Musketry at Hythe, Kent and on 17th November was posted to the Royal Scottish Fusiliers depot as an instructor at Gailes barracks.

On 11th December 1918, George was posted to the dispersal centre at Wimbledon where due to his previous Police experience he became a “Dispersal Demobiliser” (Police).There is no information that he became an MFP or MMP. On 10th January 1919 George was posted to Class Z reserves and was demobolised  from the Army. His home address is still shown as “Over Bennet Works, St Helens, Hastings.

George received The 1914-1915 Star along with the British War Medal and Victory Medal.


1914- 1915 Star


Victory Medal


Post war

On 27th December 1918 George Edward Spencer Shirley Catt returned to Brighton Borough PoliceThe 1939 Register is our next insight to George and finds him living at 2 Colbourne Avenue, Brighton.

George is shown as being born on 20th October 1894 a 45 old. He is employed as an Engineering Works Watchman and Timekeeper. George is living with wife 47 year old Irene Millicent Allen who he had married in the third quarter of 1917 at Hastings.

Also living at 2 Colboune Avenue was his daughter Eileen M Catt born 10th September 1920 along with a son George Peter Catt born 21st August 1924

George died in 1967 at 62 years of age. His death is registered in Brighton.

Irene Catt died in 1981 aged 89 years.




Our final event!

20170630_170652-e1499443215907.jpgWe marked the end of our The Orange Lilies – Brighton & Hove in the Somme project with a big community history event on 30th June 2017 at Jubilee Library in Brighton.

It was a roaring success with a great variety of speakers and around 150 visitors to the drop in day, listening to presentations, visiting stalls and exhibitions at the venue, followed by the unveiling of a memorial stone to those who fell at The Battle of Boar’s Head on 30th June 1916.

Just to say a huge thank you for your support and delivery for The Orange Lilies project since June 2016.
Your time and expertise has really served to make the project happen and is so very much appreciated. I really can’t thank you enough for your involvement!
We are still uploading research to the project website, so things won’t end right away, but in terms of project delivery we are now complete.
I must say it’s come round far too soon and I feel in some ways like we’ve just got started, so am sad to finish, but on to projects new for now.
We’ve had great feedback from visitors for the day in general and also each specific session. The day was a real success and we had around 150 visitors ongoing through the day to hear your presentations. I hope you enjoyed it too!
‘I was glad to catch Geoffrey Mead’s talk. Fascinating!’
‘The speakers were of an extremely high standard’
‘Chris Kempshall’s talk was my favourite part’
‘A fascinating day, thank you!’
‘Really enjoyed it’
‘The speakers were all inspirational, amusing, entertaining, relevant and inspiring’
‘It was an illuminating and fascinating day of events’
‘All the presentations (including the Q+A) were of an extremely high standard’
‘Many congratulations on a superb project’
If you’d like to join the Strike a Light mailing list for future project activities and events, do let me know and I’ll add you to the newsletter. 
To keep up with us in other ways you can ‘Follow’ the Strike a Light website – https://strikealight.org/
or on Twitter – @strikerlight


Charles Beesley

Charles Beesley was born in 1879 in Brighton. Charles died on the 30th of June 1916 at the Battles of Boar’s head in France at the age of 37 years. His regiment was the Royal Sussex Regiment, 13th Battalion. His service number was SD/3289.

Family and Home life:

Charles’ father Thomas Beesley was born in Oxford in 1840 and married Mary Bayliss of Woodstock, Oxfordshire in 1863. By 1871 they had five children and were living at 33 Marston Street, Cowley in Oxford and Mary’s mother Maria and Mary’s sister Adelina aged 15 years were living with them. Thomas was working as a college servant. Charles’ grandfather Richard Beesley, who was born in 1810, had also worked as a college servant.

Mary died in 1871 at the age of 29 years. At some time after the 1871 census Thomas moved to Brighton.

On 28/04/1878 in St Peter’s Church he married Lucy Comfort, who was born in Rotherhithe in about 1839 and was the fourth child of George Comfort and his wife Mary.

The Mathieson Brighton Suburban Directory of 1870, shows that Lucy was working as a milliner and dressmaker at 22, Bloomsbury Place and the 1874 Post Office directory shows she was a milliner working at 101 St George’s Road. Dressmakers would have been in high demand at this time in fashionable Brighton.
It is possible that Lucy may have learnt her trade at school or her father may have paid for an apprenticeship. He had at the time of the 1871 census worked as a clerk, but by the time of Lucy’s marriage was an accountant and therefore possibly of some means.

Charles’ birth was registered in Brighton between October and December 1879. The 1881 census showed him to be living with his parents and half sister Edith, who had been born in Oxford in 1870, at 33 Great College Street Brighton. Thomas was working as a waiter in a hotel and Lucy as a dressmaker.

Charles’ half brother Frank, in 1881, at the age of 13 years was working as a servant at 7 Regency Square in Brighton. Frank in 1887 joined the Royal Artillery and served for 21 years. He married twice.

Thomas’ other children, from his first marriage, in 1881 were living with relatives, Mary Maria born in 1866, with her Uncle Richard and Aunt  Annie in Oxford and  Emily, born in 1867,  with her Aunt Fanny in Battersea, but it is not clear where Tom, who was born in 1864, was living.
Thomas Beesley died in 1890. The 1891 census records Lucy to be a widow living at 9 Eastern Road with Charles who is aged 11 years; Lucy was the head of the household and continued to work as a dressmaker. There was another family of four living at the same address.

Lucy died in 1892 aged 53 years and so Charles, aged 12 years was an orphan.

In 1901 Charles was single, 21 years old and a boarder of Maria Dudman, living at 12 George Street Gardens. He was working as a printer’s compositor.

A compositor was the person who inset each letter of a word into the frames for printing. It needed the ability to read in mirror image, which apparently comes easier to those who are naturally left handed.

On January 10th 1903 in Hurstpierpoint, Charles at the age of 23 years, married Adelaide Wren, who was born in East Grinstead. They had two children, Charles Edward born on 29/09/1903 and Rosie Doris born on 10/02/1909.

In 1911 the family were living at 17, Terminus Road, Brighton and Charles was still working as a compositor and letterpress printer at an aerated water company.
There were seventeen Mineral Water Manufacturers in business in Brighton in 1901.

Military Career 

Charles enlisted at Brighton with the Royal Sussex Regiment, 13th Battalion. His regimental number is SD/3289 suggesting he was one of Lowthers Lambs. There appears to be limited information about Charles’ military career. He was killed in action on 30/06/1916 and is buried at Cabaret- Rouge British Cemetery, having been exhumed from Edward Road No 4 (Factory Trench). He was identified by his disc. Many of the soldiers found with Charles were not identified and came from other regiments.

He was posthumously awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

His effects totalling £1 15s 6d was sent to his wife as was his war gratuity of £6.

Post War

Adelaide did not remarry. The 1939 register showed her to be living in Rochford, Essex with her daughter Rosie D McRobert, who had married Alec J McRobert in 1935. Adelaide died in Essex in 1945. Rosie died in 1975.

Adelaide’s son, Charles Edward Beesley, in 1939 lived in Ealing, Middlesex with his wife Elsie and son Michael who was born in June 1936. Charles died in 1991 and is buried in Greenford Park Cemetery.

Lance Corporal Charles Edward Ball

Charles Edward Ball was born in 1882 in Hastings Sussex. He died on the 3rd of September 1916 in Beamont Hemal, France at 29 years.  His Regiment was the Royal Sussex Regiment, 13th Battalion. His service number was SD/3521. His profession before the war was a barman.

Family Life:

1901 Census  shows that Charles’ mother Jane had re-married  to a Jerimiah Delay. The census therefore shows Jane’s children with the name Ball.

Military Career:

Lance Corporal Charles Ball fought at Ferm Rue De Bois where he earned a Military Medal for bravery.   He survived this battle and was sent to Beaumont Hemel where he died in action.

His wife was awarded the medal posthumously, the following was recorded in a local newspaper. (Ref GWF)

‘At Preston Barracks in Lewes Road Brighton 700 hundred people were present when Col Rodmell awarded to Lance Corporal Charles Ball’s widow with her small son Bernard present, a medal for bravery.

The official record states:-  ‘The attack became rather disorganised in the darkness and smoke. Lance Corporal Charles Ball got together a party of men  and pushed on with them and gained a footing in the German trench. He held this ground until every man was a casualty. This was  in July 1916. Lance Corporal Bell  survived this battle was killed in action three months later.’

Brother Robert was present wearing a blue uniform, as a wounded soldier. He was also in the Royal Sussex Regiment 13th Battalion.  He was the second son of  Jane Delay  who by this time had died. He was also brother to Carrie Morris who resided in Manitoba Canada. (Neither Carrie or Robert were mentioned in the 1901 Census.)

Lance Corporal Bell is recorded on The Sussex Roll of Honour and is buried at Beaumont Hamel Military Cemetery


I was unable to find a military record for Charles Ball and assume this was destroyed in a fire with many others. It was also impossible to trace his Regiment to  The Battle of Beaumont Hemel as the record for the regiment ceased in 1916. Therefore it is not known how Charles Ball died.

Arthur Henry Avis

 Arthur Henry Avis, was born on the 9th May 1889 in Rottingdean, Brighton, Sussex.


Family life

The Avis family appear to have lived in Rottingdean for several generations. Arthur’s parents are both from Rottingdean and despite a few years in London where they were both servants they returned to Rottingdean with young children.

1889 saw the birth of Arthur Henry Avis but unfortunately his father died the same year.

Home life

Arthur was the youngest of four children. He had 2 brothers and a sister. The children were brought up by their mother living on her own. At the age of 11 Arthur was a milk boy along with his 13 yr old brother according to the 1901 Census. By the age of 21 he was a Gardener living as a boarder in The Lodge, St Mary’s Hall, Brighton (1911 Census).

On 5th October 1914 Arthur became a Police Constable with the Brighton Borough Police Force.

Military career

Arthur Avis appears on both WW1 Plaques within The Old Police Museum Cells at Brighton Town Hall. They are shown to be with The Royal Sussex Regiment.
The exact location of where these memorials were originally hung is at this moment lost in time. It is known however that both were recovered from the Old Wellington Road Police Station by author and historian, Retired Police Constable David Rowland and safely deposited in store within the basement of Brighton Police Station, John Street.

Arthur Henry Avis received permission to join the Army from the then Chief Constable Mr William Gentle on 12th May 1915. He left the Police on the same and day attested to join the Army on 12th May 1915. He stated his age was 26yrs, a Police Constable living at Garden Cottage, Rottingdean.

Other Police Officers that had applied for permission to join the Army are shown below.

All are released on the same day as Avis;=.

Edward Eade, Edmund N Funnell, Christopher Gaston, Clifford Gaston, William Daniels, William J Berry, Frederick Stephenson, George Simmons, Samuel V Kitchener and Ernest Lynn.

Arhur Avis has a service number of GS/6822 which is consistent with joining The Royal Sussex Regiment between 2nd May 1915 and 1st June 1915. The “GS” signifies those that joined up for General Service but was not always prefixed on their records. He showed his next of kin as his mother Susan giving the address as Garden Cottage, Rottingdean.

Arthur was initially sent for training with the 10th Battalion on 25th May 1915 at Colchester where he also received training in Stretcher bearing and First Aid on 8th September 1915. Several other recruits were from Brighton Borough Police.

He was at Shoreham between 13th September and 29th October 1915.

On 29th October 1915 he went to Weymouth 8th Battalion Depot for Pioneer training.

The 8th Battalion was formed as a new army unit under the recruitment drive launched soon after the outbreak of the war by the Secretary of State Lord Kitchener and although initially formed as an Infantry unit it was converted to a Pioneer Battalion. The 8th played a less active fighting part in the war; its main role was to be one of support, involving hard physical work. That said the 8th Battalion were still fully trained soldiers and they were required to carry all the same equipment as a normal soldier and be prepared to fight.

On 19th November 1915 Arthur joined the British Expeditionary Force and disembarked at Etaples. The Battalion formed part of the 18th Eastern Division.

The war diary of the 8th Battalion contains a mass of detail concerning map references, geographical positions and an amazing amount of technical information on all aspects of the pioneering work carried out, but sadly contains very little information of the non-pioneering activities of the Battalion.

It is known that Arthur would have caught up with his Battalion in or around Albert, just North of the River Somme. The Battalion was committed to general work on defences, which included trenches, dugouts, shelters and billets and remained in the area for December and into 1916 enduring heavy snow at the end of February.

March 1917 saw the beginning of the preparation for the “Big Push” planned for the 1st July 1916. The 18th had started to dig “Russian Saps” from the divisional front line, beneath “No Man’s Land” The Russian Saps were shallow underground tunnels through which men could pass to the attack unseen by the enemy. Arthur would not have seen the completion of the Saps.

In 1916 Army Council instruction No. 1733 was issued with regards to The Military Police. The instruction is long and tedious but in short explains that the system of Policing such large numbers of Soldiers at home and abroad required trained Police Officers. As a result it would appear that soldiers who were Police Officers prior to the war were being transferred to either the MMP (Mounted Military Police) or MFP (Military Foot Police).

The General Duties of a Military Police Officer include:

(1) The detection of crime, and the arrest of offenders.

(2) The maintenance of order under all circumstances.

(3) The surveillance and control of all civilians and followers within the area occupied by their formations.

(4) Assisting in maintaining march discipline of troops and transport and in regulating traffic.

(5) The collection of stragglers.

(6) The custody of prisoners of war until their transfer to railhead or to a P.O.W. working company.

(7) The protection of the local inhabitants against acts of violence on the part of soldiers or followers.

In addition there were numerous special duties they were expected to see to, amongst which were :—

Taking measures to prevent troops getting into contact with undesirable characters—prostitutes, enemy agents, provocateurs, etc. Ill-treatment of animals. Civilians found within the lines without passes or identity cards. Plundering, marauding and looting. Ill-treatment of inhabitants. Soldiers and civilians trafficking in rations or Government property. Unauthorized cameras and photography. Collecting and returning of horses. Careless talk and the apprehension of anyone giving military information. Arrest of suspicious individuals. The shooting of dogs found unattended near the forward lines, and search of the bodies for messages, etc. Seizure of carrier pigeons. Surveillance for means of communication with the enemy.

On 23rd April 1917 Arthur was temporarily transferred to the Military Foot Police for the duration of the war. He is promoted to Lance Corporal and his new service number is P10428.

On 9th May 1917 he joined up with the 1st Army at Pernes in France until 6th July 1918 when he was transferred to the 5th Army “in the field”. He was still serving with the 5th Army on 15th May 1919. On 6th July 1919 Arthur was sent to Boulogne for transfer to England for demobilization via Wimereux, France.

On 8th July Arthur is at the Crystal palace dispersal unit along with the Gaston twins where he is granted 28 days furlough. (Leave)On 4th August 1919 Arthur is transferred to Class Z army reserve. His address is 67 Bates Road, Brighton.

Arthur would have been awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal and most likely the 1914-1915 Star although the army records do not show this. A medal card cannot be found.


Victory Medal


British War Medal

Post war

Arthur rejoins Brighton Police on 14th August 1919, having served the Colours for 4yrs and 3 monthsAt the age of 36 in 1925, Arthur married a probable divorcee (not a widow) Ethel Frances Maud Nickolls nee Finbow. Ethel already had two children from her previous marriage to Christopher George Nickolls. Harry Joshua Charles Frederick Nickolls aged 15 years and Bernard James Nickolls aged 11yrs. On 31st August 1926 Ethel gave birth to a daughter Gwendoline.

The 1939 Register shows Arthur, still a Police Officer, living at 13 Gerrard Street Brighton with his wife Ethel and their daughter Gwendoline.

Arthur died in Brighton in 1946 aged 57 and Ethel died 17 years later in 1946 aged 75.

Research problems- The only research problem was a lack of Medal Card. Copyright Researched and reported by Ian Borthwick 2017, Retired Sussex Police Officer AB579, Served between Nov 1976 to March 2007.

Private Clement Trill – Royal Sussex Regiment

Clement Trill, was a Private in the 13th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment (SD 2803). He fought at the Battle of the Boars Head at  Richebourg L’Avoué, on the 30th of June 1916 and died the next day on the 1st July 1916 of his injuries at the age of 29 years. Trill is buried at Merville Communal Cemetery, France.

Clement Trill’s Brother, Lance Corporal Charles Tower Trill, was in the 7th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment. He too was killed in action during an attack on German positions at Ovillers on the Somme on 7th July 1916, aged 21 years. Lance Corporal Charles Tower Trill is Buried Ovillers Military Cemetery, France.


Clement Trill was born in 1888 to Henry James Trill (born 1856 and died 1911) and Elizabeth Bardwell (died 1921). Henry and Elizabeth married in 1880 and lived in Brighton. They had seven children: Fredrick (b. 1881), Edith Maud (b. 1882), Dennis (b. 1884), Clement (b.1888) and Gertrude Eva (b. 1891), Florence (b. 1893) and Charles (b. 1902). In 1901 The family are recorded to be living in Chancellors Park in Keymer, Sussex.


Clement Trill married Violet Davies (born 1898). They had one son named Clement R. Trill who was born in Dartford in 1916. In 1939 Clement R. is recorded to be living with his mother Violet at 19B Madeira Place and his profession is stated as an electrician and plant maintenance person at Allen West.

Military career:

Clement enlisted in Brighton into the 13th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment. The battalion crossed to Le Havre from Southampton on 5/6 March 1916. Clement’s regimental number is consecutive to that of Albury TURNER (SD 2804 – who was born in Coventry but whose family had returned to Brighton.  Albury Turner was presumed to have died at the Battle of Boar’s Head).

Clement was wounded at the Battle of Boar’s Head and died the following day of his wounds. The attack was frustrated by heavy machine gun fire from the Germans on to the left flank of the advance, and the fact that the smoke which was supposed to obscure the advance from the enemy’s sight drifted across no-man’s-land and made it virtually impossible for the men to see where they should be going and this caused confusion.  

The war diary for the battalion merely notes that casualties were “very heavy” and no estimate is given of how many men were killed or injured.  However, it was later reckoned that 360 men died and over 1100 were injured or missing hence “The Day Sussex Died”.

On the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Comprehensive Report it shows that Clement’s headstone gives his age, his regiment, date of death and the inscription “In ever loving memory from his wife and little son.”

He is commemorated on the Newick war memorial.

Post war:

Violet gave birth to their son, Clement, in the July to September quarter of 1916.  Violet does not appear to have remarried and died in Hove in 1956.  Clement Jr. married Daisy Edwards in 1940 and did not serve in the Second World War as he seems to have been in a reserved occupation whilst working at Allen West in Brighton.  In the 1939 record Clement is living at 19B Madeira Place and he is described as an “electrician and plant maintenance person”.

The other Trill boys:

Sadly Clement’s youngest brother, Charles died just six days after him and is buried in Ovillers Military Cemetery.

Frederick Henry Trill also served and was apart of the Rhine Army. He married Florence Paul in 1972. Frederick died in Camden Town in 1957 and Florence died the following year.

Dennis Bardwell Trill also served with the Royal Sussex Regiment (G5757). He died in Brighton in 1958.


The Orange Lilies

The Orange Lilies project runs until July 2017, and we have free events and activities taking place throughout the rest of the project.

We have been uploading memories and research to our project website which we’d love you to view.

Visit and view our textiles banner about the impact of the Somme on the city, and a selection of films made by young people about the centenary of the battle in an exhibition of our work at Jubilee Library in the Youth area from now until 4th July.

Visit our project site for further information

Funded by The Heritage Lottery Fund


Arthur Edgar Virgo

Arthur Edgar Virgo was born in Portslade in 1885,  his parents had been married for two years and had a daughter called Minne. Arthur’s fathers side came from a long line of Portslade residents dating back to around the late 18th century.

At the time of the 1891 census the family were living at 9 Elm Road. Today, it is listed as a three bedroom house however with the seven occupants at the time Arthur was living there it would have been cramped. Minnie was joined by brothers: Arthur and Lewis. They were joined by their widowed grand mother Charlotte and her son Edgar.

Arthur enlisted as a Private in Eastbourne  with the Royal Sussex Regiment- 12th Battalion. He died on the Rue de Bois on the 30th of June 1916. It is unclear if he was killed in action or died from his wounds. In the UK Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects  there is a handwritten entry in the ‘When and Where died’ sections states death presumed. This suggests his body and remains are unknown. 


Loos Memorial- Pas de Calais France.

Arthur is commemorated at Loos memorial (Panel reference 69-73 Stone number 72) and at the Church of St Nicholas in Portslade.

Our exhibition is open to the public!

20170525_102209.jpgWe’ve just set up the textiles part of our BFEST 2017 Youth Arts exhibition at Jubilee Library in Brighton, exploring Brighton and Hove during the Somme, and made with young people, and artist Rosie James. It’s looking great!
We will also be showing the short films made with young people for The Orange Lilies project, and they should be operation from tomorrow.
The BFST festival last for a week and offers free activities across the city created by, with and for young people.
It starts with the launch on Saturday 27th May at The Level so come down and see the exhibition. It’s on until 4th July.