Armistice centenary 2018 – Strike a Light attends memorial at Westminster Abbey

45284353_282863865696332_219482063005286400_nWe’re off to Westminster Abbey in London this Sunday 11th November for the special centenary commemorations of World War I along with the Royal Family, for our work with Strike a Light-Arts & Heritage on The Orange Lilies: Brighton & Hove in the Somme project from 2016 onwards.

We’re very honoured to have been invited and feel like we’re representing all the fantastic Great War focussed projects in Brighton and Hove on a national level.

Thanks to all our project partners – Brighton and Hove Libraries and Information Service, Fabrica Gallery and Gateways to the First World War, as well as our indispensible volunteers and participants who were involved in bringing this research to life during this time and helping remember the lives of the Royal Sussex Regiment during WWI.

 

Albury Charles Turner

Albury Charles Turner was born on the 24th August 1884 in Coventry, Warwickshire. Albury was presumed dead on the 30th of June 1916 in the Battle of Boar’s Head in France at the age of 32. Albury was with the 13th Royal Sussex Regiment, his rank was Private and his service number was SD/2804.

Family Life

Albury was the grandson of Josiah Turner (b 1826 in Southwark – d 17 June 1886 in Coventry leaving an estate of £190 15s 0d) and Sarah Ann Lister Lee (b 28 January 1829 in Leeds, Yorkshire d 11 October 1893 at Binley, Coventry, leaving an estate of £184 15s 5d). Josiah and Sarah married in South Australia on 6 March 1851.   

Josiah was a manufacturer of sewing machines, an inventor and entrepreneur. He held several patents for the improvement of mechanisms of sewing machines and bicycles. Albury’s father, Charles Thomas Turner, was the eldest of Josiah’s four surviving children and he was born in Kensington (South Australia) in on 3 December 1851 and died in Coventry on 8 March 1908, leaving an estate of £1654 6s 6d.

In Brighton, between April and June 1880, Charles Turner married Albury’s mother, Maria Georgina Bagg (born 20 September 1851 in Bloomsbury, London, died 4 March 1929 in Hove, leaving an estate of £5622 11s 1d).  

Albury’s maternal grandfather, William George Thomas Bagg (b 1804 d 20 December 1869 leaving an estate of between £1000 and £2000), was described as an “artist” on Maria’s baptismal certificate, but he was also a talented engraver and his work was sought after for the production of plates for books on anatomy and botany. He is mentioned in a letter from Charles Darwin to his publisher, John Murray in 1861.

Charles and Maria lived in Coventry where Charles eventually became a director of J and J Cash Ltd (described in the 1891 census as a frilling manufacturer making ribbons, tapes and woven pictures. They had eight children: Jessie Vaughan (b 1881), Horace Lister (b 1882), Albury Charles (b 1884), Leonard Frederick (b 1885), Kathleen Ada (b 1886), twins Stanley Josiah and Elsie Maria Georgina (b 1890) and Dorothy Dale (b 1893).

After Charles’s death in 1908 Maria returned to Brighton, perhaps to be near her widowed sister, Selina Morris, and some of her children came with her.  In the 1911 census Maria, Leonard, Kathleen, Elsie and Dorothy are all living at 7 Sudeley Terrace.  By the time Albury is killed the family has moved to 9 Hove Park Villas.

Albury’s eldest sister, Jessie, had married Harry Nichols, a railway clerk, in 1903 and was living in Birmingham.  Horace went to South Norwalk, Connecticut, USA, and lived there for several years.  In the USA census of 1910 there is a Horace Turner living in South Norwalk, Ct, and working as a book-keeper in a lace shop and the census states that he has been resident since 1903.  The Ellis Island records show that Horace Lister Turner was certainly in America from 1908 until 1911 and his destination in these records is South Norwalk.   Albury remained in Coventry and worked as a surveyor, a profession also followed by his mother’s brother, another William Bagg. Stanley emigrated to Australia but came back with the ANZAC forces and in 1917 he married a girl in Coventry, which is where he spent the rest of his life.  

Leonard, Kathleen and Elsie all remained in Brighton.  They did not marry and continued to live together. When Kathleen died in 1974 she was still living at 101 Edburton Avenue which had been the family home for at least forty years.   Dorothy also stayed in Brighton and married John W. Collinge in 1917. In 1920 she had a son whom she christened Albury and who went to Canada in 1951. She had a second son, Charles, in 1927.

Military career

Albury enlisted in Brighton into the 13th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment. The battalion crossed to Le Havre from Southampton on 5/6 March 1916. Albury’s regimental number is consecutive to that of Clement Trill (SD 2803 – another Brighton man, who was wounded at the Battle of Boar’s Head and died the following day of his wounds).  

It is presumed that Albury was killed during the fighting at Boar’s Head.  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”.

In essence, the bombardment, which had been arranged to quell the Germans and drive them from their trenches, failed and the smoke from the bombardment drifted into the attackers, so men lost their sense of direction. Some ended up advancing at an angle across No Man’s Land, exposing their vulnerable flanks to the Germans. Many were mowed down in waves. A ditch existed in front of the British trenches, and carrying parties with small bridges had gone forward to assist in the crossing of it. These men had been amongst the first to fall and very few of the bridges were in place. Most had to scramble in and out of the ditch, as machine-gun fire swept the area. When they reached the German front line most of the wire was intact, and very few of the 13th ever made it into the German trenches. By the close of operations very few survivors had made their way back to the British frontline.
Albury’s date of death was presumed 30 June 1916 – Battle of Boar’s Head.

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His body was exhumed from a large trench grave marked with a cross and a German cross.  The grave contained 84 unidentified British soldiers and 7 unidentified British officers.  The Graves Registration Unit then identified some of the men in the grave by their dog tags, their uniform, their badges of rank or their personal effects. Albury Turner was identified by his clothing and his identity disc.  

25 July 1923 he is recorded as having been reburied at Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez.  His headstone carries a cross, his name, age, date of death and regimental badge.

Turner re-burial document copy

Probate was granted to his mother in May 1917 and his total effects amounted to £114 2s 11d

Turner Albury Charles soldiers  effects copy.jpeg

He is commemorated in the City of Coventry Roll of the Fallen:  the Great War 1914-1918, also in the Hove Library War Memorial.

 

George Thomas Simmons

 George Thomas Simmons was born on the 24th March 1888 in East Grinstead, Sussex. He died in 1962 at the age of 73 in East Grinstead, Sussex. His regiment was the The Royal Sussex Regiment and his rank was private with the service number: GS 6824.

Family life

There are at least three generations of George Simmons. Our particular George Thomas Simmons was born on 24th March 1888. It would appear that the Simmons family have lived in the area of East Grinstead for several generations. George’s father is a Plumber. His parents George and Eliza were married in 1887 in East Grinstead, Sussex. George was the first child born. He was baptised on 10th June 1888 at East Grinstead.

The 1891 Census of England and Wales finds the family living at 68 Glen Vue, East Grinstead. George is a 3 living with his parents George and Eliza. Another child has been born; Jessie Emily was born on 22nd April 1889 and is now 2.

Home life

The 1901 Census finds George as a 13 years old. No occupation is shown for George or his sister Jessie who is now 11, they are probably at school. The family are all still at the same address of 68 Glen Vue, East Grinstead.

On 18th May 1907 George is 19 and employed at East Grinstead Railway Station as a Porter according to the UK Rail Employment Records 1833 – 1956. The 1911 Census for England and Wales finds George as a boarder at 5 Goodwood Road, New Cross, London. George is now 23 years old and is a Railway Guard.  It is interesting to note at this stage that one of the daughters living at the same house where George is boarding, Lillian Young, later becomes his wife. On 20th May 1912 George became a Police Constable with the Brighton Borough Police Force. It is not known where he was living.

On 27th May 1913 George married Lillian Young at East Grinstead Parish Church. Lillian is the daughter of Mrs Young who boarded out rooms to George.

Military career

George Thomas Simmons appears on both WW1 Plaques within The Old Police Cells Museum at Brighton Town Hall. 

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Police Cell Plaque

George Simmons 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 day and attested to join the Army. He stated his age was 27 years and 1 month, a Police Constable living at 59 Sandgate Road, Brighton.

Other Police Officers that had applied for permission to join the Army and released on the same day are shown below:- Arthur H Avis, Edward Eade, Edmund N Funnell, Christopher Gaston, Clifford Gaston, William Daniels, William J Berry, Frederick Stephenson, Samuel V Kitchener and Ernest Lynn.

George Simmons has a service number of GS/6824 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.

George was initially sent for training with the 10th Battalion on 21st May 1915 at Colchester the same day as Sydney MillenOn 8th September George passed a course of instruction in stretcher bearing and first aid. Catt, Avis, Cheesman, Clinch, Lynn, Lintott and Millen were also on this course.

Whilst all of George’s Police colleagues were being posted, mostly to the British Expeditionary Force in France, for some reason he remains in Colchester with the 10th Battalion. According to his war record George is posted to The Royal Engineers on 7th March 1916. His new Service number is 128008RE. He is a Pioneer. He went to France for training. On 20th June 1917 George receives a gunshot wound to his left arm. He was sent home and taken to the University Hospital, Gower Street, London. He is posted on 8th July 1916 to the Royal Engineers 3rd Pioneers Company in England.

On 13th March 1917 George is posted and embarks for the British Expeditionary Force in France with the Royal Engineers Special Brigade. The First World War witnessed the first use of Chemical Weapons in armed conflict. Chlorine Gas was first used on the Western Front by the Germans against French units in the Ypres Salient in 1915.

Special units of the Royal Engineers were established to use chemical weapons. They were wholly a wartime innovation – prior to 1915 the British Army had no capability for using Gas. In retaliation for the use of Chlorine by the Germans at Ypres, retaliatory measures were authorised by Lord Kitchener.

The British Army first used Gas in the preliminary stages of the Battle of Loos in September 1915. Although it had a very limited effect at Loos, the decision was taken to formalise the special Engineer units. A Special Brigade was formed, containing 4 Battalions, each of four companies. These would handle gases discharged from cylinders. Four other special companies were also formed to fire gas shells from Stokes Mortars, and four special sections to use flamethrowers. The total establishment of the whole Brigade was 208 officers and 5,306 men.

George was only in France for a few months when he was transferred back to England on 3rd July 1917. On 20th April 1918 George was promoted to unpaid Lance Corporal, He is with B Company 110 Royal Engineers Special Brigade. 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).

On 23rd July 1917 George was temporarily transferred to the Military Foot Police for the duration of the war. He remains a Lance Corporal and his new service number is P15921. On 17th August George is posted to Italy where he remained until 23rd March 1919. George report for disposal and was demobilized on 22nd April 1919. George was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal.

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Victory Medal

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British War Medal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post war

George rejoins Brighton Police on 10th April 1919 along with another returning Police Officer Alfred Hobden. It has not been possible to prove with any certainty that George and Lillian had any children. The 1939 Register reveals that George is a Widower. It has not been possible to establish a date of his wife Lilian’s death at present. George is living with his sister Jessie at 17 Sackville Gardens, East Grinstead. The record states that he is a Sewerage Pumping Station Attendant. George died in 1962, at least 22 years after his wife. His death is registered in Uckfield but he probably died in East Grinstead.

Jessie Emily Simmonds, George’s sister died the year after in 1973.

Research problems

Lack of information between rejoining Brighton Police in 1919 to his Death in 1973.

Copyright Researched and reported by Ian Borthwick 2017, retired Sussex Police Officer AB579, served between Nov 1976 to March 2007.

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.
Casualties
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 William Henry Hackett

George William Henry Hackett was born on the 4th of September 1881 in Horsham, Sussex. He died in 1933 in Horsham at the age of 52.  His regiment was the Sussex Yeomanry / MFP. His rank was sergeant, with the service number: 3432/ P7579. 

Family life

George William Henry Hackett was born on 4th September 1881. His birth was registered in Horsham during the 3rd quarter. Within his Army records George’s birth date is shown as 4/8/1880 at Brighton. It is unknown why this should be a different date other than an error. George is 33 at attestation.

George appears in the 1891 Census as a 9 year old. He is living at the family home at 9 Railway Cottages, Worth, Three Bridges along with his parents and siblings.

Home life

George is the second child of George and Ellen Hackett. His father was a Yardsman for the Railway. George Hackett Senior and Mary Jessie Harvey married within the Horsham registration area in 1904. George has one elder sister, Annie and four younger brothers Albert, Charles, Alfred and Frederick. George William Henry Hackett cannot be found within the 1901 Census. It may be that he is fighting in the Boer War with the Cape Mounted Rifles.

According to The Army Attestation document of George Hackett he stated that he has previously served with the Cape Mounted Rifles. The Cape Mounted Rifles, previously the “Frontier Armed and Mounted Police” were fully militarised in 1878 as a unit of the Colonial Forces. They were used in the 2nd Boer War of 1899 – 1902. During peacetime the “CMR” served as a Police Force.

On 12th August 1903 George joined Brighton Borough Police. The picture below was taken before the war.

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In 1904 George married Mary Jessie Harvey in the registration district of Horsham. Mary gave birth to twins John Henry and George William on 6th September 1905 and later in 1910 Charles Sydney is born.

The 1911 census shows the family living at 48 Spring Gardens, Brighton. George is a Police Constable with the Borough force. It would appear the Mary had given birth to four children. One did not survive. There is no further information available.

Military career

As already stated, George declared that he had previous military experience with the Cape Mounted Rifles. There is no other information available with this regards and no records can be found. George, whilst being employed by Brighton Police as a Police Sergeant was “loaned” by the police to The Royal Sussex Regiment as a Drill Instructor in 1914. The Chief Constable reported to the Brighton Borough Police Watch Committee that from 19/4/1914 four Drill Instructors Hackett, Hibbs, Pearson, and Read had been loaned to the War Office.  The Chief Constable, William Gentle recommended that due to George Hackett and other Officers being taken for War duties that he, along with others be replaced as members of the Fire Brigade.

On 11th December 1915 George attested to join the Army and was immediately posted to the Army Reserve, where he continued to be a Drill Instructor with the Royal Sussex Regiment. On 5th April 1916 The Chief Constable again reported to the Brighton Borough Police Watch Committee that Sgt Robson, PC Vigar, Pc Hackett, and PC Reid had applied for permission to rejoin the Army. They have previously been employed as Drill Instructors at Chichester. Permission was granted.

On 7th April 1916 George was mobilised and posted to The Sussex Yeomanry with the 8th Cycles Regiment. His service number was 3432. It is believed that George had attested under the “Derby” scheme which was devised to encourage men to voluntarily register their name on the principle that once registered they would be called up for service only when necessary. As an added incentive married men were advised that they would only be called up once the supply of single men was exhausted.

George was classed as a group B Soldier due to his age and marital status which did not allow him to go abroad to fight. He remained on home territory for the duration of the war.

On 21st June 1916 George was promoted to Sergeant and remained with the Sussex Yeomanry until, like most other Police Officers from civilian life he was transferred to the Military Foot Police, where he served firstly as a Lance Corporal and promoted to Sergeant at number 8 area in Kent. His new service number was P7579. Herbert Robson also from Brighton Police was with him at demob. Robson was P7580.

On 2nd March 1919 George was at the Crystal Palace dispersal unit where on 29th March 1919 he was posted to group Z reserves and demobilised. On 19th March 1919 The Chief Constable of Brighton Police reported to the Brighton Police Watch Committee that Hector Bradley and George Hackett had been demobilized and returned to Police duties on 13th March 1919.

Two of George’s brother saw action. Albert was killed in action on 12th October 1916 whilst serving with 17th Battalion Manchester Regiment. Alfred was injured and awarded a Silver Badge.

Post war

It is known that George returned to the Brighton Borough Police after the war.

George William Henry Hackett died aged 52yrs in 1933 in the registration district of Horsham. The 1939 Register finds Mary Jessie Hackett as a widow. Mary is living at 46 Ellen Street, Hove. Mary survived her husband until 1947. She died in Hove.

Research problems

The Army records were complicated and the chronology was difficult to ascertain.

Copyright Researched and reported by, Ian Borthwick 2017, Retired Sussex Police Officer AB579, Served between Nov 1976 to March 2007.

Charles Gunn

Charles Gunn was born in 1897 in Brighton. Charles died in 1916 during the attack on Beaucourt Ridge at nineteen years old. Charles enlisted in Newhaven and his regimental number was SD/3774.  Before the war Charles was a page boy at Whites Club in London.

Family and Home life 

Charles Gunn was born in 1887, and came from a long line of men who worked in the Brighton fishing trade. His father Nathaniel Gunn, who was born in 1860, was a fishmonger. His grandfather, Nathaniel, who was born in 1832, was also a fisherman. His great grandfather, George, who was born in about 1808, was again a fisherman. It is possible, if not probable, that Charles was descended from Stephen Gunn who had married Martha Killick in 1758 at St Nicholas’ Church, Brighton. Martha Gunn, about whom much has been written, was the famous Brighton ‘dipper’ and favourite of George 1V.
Charles’s parents Nathaniel and Abigail (known as Abby) Aldridge were married in St Paul’s Church, West Street on September 12th 1880. They were both 22. Their daughter, Catherine Abby, was born in 1883 and died in Cranbrook in Kent in 1895. She was buried in Hawkhurst, Kent on September 26th 1895. Nathaniel and Abby’s daughter, Rosie, was born on March 6th 1895 and therefore was about six months old when her sister died. Nathaniel died on July 8th 1896 and his effects totalled £35 12s. At the time of his death, the family lived at 4 Crown Street.
Charles was born during the 1st quarter of 1897. The 1901 census records Abby, Rosie and Charles to be lodging with Johanna O’Leary and her daughters, at 63 Spa Street, and Abby to be working as a laundress.
The 1911 census records Abby as living in The Workhouse, 250 Elm Grove, and working as an ironer.
Charles on the 1911 census, at the age of 14 years, is recorded as working as a page boy and living at 26, St James Street, London. This was the address of White’s Club.

MILITARY CAREER:
Charles’ enlisted with the Royal Sussex Regiment, 11th Battalion, (1st South Downs) in Newhaven. His regimental number is SD/3774. He was killed in action during the attack on Beaucourt Ridge on the River Ancre on 3rd September 1916. He is buried in Aire Communal Cemetery. He is listed in the Memorial Book at St Peter’s Church, Brighton. Charles was posthumously awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal.
His effects and war gratuity totaling £11 8s 11d was sent to his Mother in June 1919.

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Aire Communal Cemetery

Post War
Charles’ sister Rosa (Rosie) married Walter J Rowley in June 1919.
The 1939 Register shows that Rosa was living at 77 Barcombe Road, Brighton with six other people, including her Mother. Abby died in 1943.

Research Notes
There are many branches of the Gunn family in the Brighton area. During the nineteenth and twentieth century many were involved in the fishing industry.
There was a tendency for the oldest son to be named after his father and so many Gunn boys were called either George or Nathaniel. This makes tracing back some family lines, particularly prior to the 1841 census, extremely difficult. It is interesting that Charles’ parents did not follow this pattern; there does not appear to have been another son born before Charles.
I cannot find any trace of Charles’ grandfather Nathaniel on the 1851 census. His grandmother Catherine (Watts) who had married Nathaniel in December 1850 was living at 4 Kent Street with baby, Nancy.
The site of Kent Street is now occupied by the Odeon Cinema Complex.
Charles’ Mother christened Abigail, but mostly referred to as Abby.
There appears to be little surviving information about Charles’ military career.
Spa Street was named after the German Spa, but was originally called Nottingham Street, and was replaced by Tillstone Street in 1898.

White’s is the oldest gentlemen’s club in London, founded in 1693, and continues to this day to be exclusively for gentlemen, although brief exceptions were made in 1991 and 2016, for visits by The Queen.

Thomas Ford

Family life

Thomas Ford was born on 1st February 1886 in Ringmer, East Sussex. His birth is registered at LewesThomas appears in the 1891 Census as a 5 year old. He is living at the family home in Bishops Lane, Ringmer, East Sussex along with his parents and siblings.

Home life

Thomas appears to be the second child of John and Eliza Ford. His father was a Bricklayer. John Ford and Eliza Stoner married in the Lewes registration area in 1882. Thomas has one elder sister, Eliza, an elder brother John and a younger brother Joseph.

The 1901 Census finds the family complete. They are all living in the same house in Bishops Lane, Ringmer, East Sussex. John, the father is now a Foreman Bricklayer. There are now 8 children. Tom has 3 more sisters Edith, Harriet and Ellen along with one more brother Ernest. Thomas is a Bricklayers Labourer.

The 1911 census shows that the family has started to fly the nest. Only 3 children John, Ernest and Ellen remain at home.

Thomas is living with his sister Eliza and her husband at 123 Gloucester Road, Brighton. Thomas Joined Brighton Borough Police on 16th November 1910 with George Hemsley and George Chisnall. Thomas is now 25 years of age.

On 11th August 1917 Thomas Ford married Grace Lintott. Thomas is shown on the wedding certificate as 31 years of age, a bachelor, Police Officer (Sussex Yeomanry).

Grace Lintott is the younger sister of PC Richard Lintott MM. Grace is 23 years old, a spinster living at Fisher Lane, Chiddingfold.

Military career

Thomas Ford appears on both WW1 Plaques within The Old Police Museum Cells at Brighton. He is shown to be with The Sussex Yeomanry as well as the Warwickshire Regiment.

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Police Cell Plaque

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Sussex Yeomanry Cap Badge

Sydney Barrow received permission from Chief Constable William Gentle to join the Army from the then Chief Constable Mr. William Gentle on 19th May 1915. He left the Police on the same day as Herbert Boxall, Sidney Barrow, Ernest Griggs, Henry Hayter, Charles Moorey and George Sutton.

No information of any certainty has been forthcoming with regards to Thomas’ military career apart from his wedding certificate which shows him as a Police Officer (Sussex Yeomanry) in 1917.

The Chief Constable William Gentle reported to the Brighton Police Watch Committee that Thomas Ford had reported back for Police duties on 13th February 1919 along with Charles Moorey and George Hibbs.

No information with regards to The Royal Warwickshire Regiment or any awards he may have received have been found.

Post war

It is known that Thomas Ford was a member of the Brighton Borough Police after the war.

The question that is to remain unanswered at present is “What happened to Thomas Ford during the war years? Did he go to war? Or “Did he remain with Brighton Police and at home with the Sussex Yeomanry? There is no trace of him within the Military Police. 

The 1939 Register is our next insight to Thomas and Grace. They are both living at 17 Dale Crescent, Brighton. Thomas’ date of birth is shown as 1st February 1886. He is a retired Police Officer. Grace is born on 4th August 1894. There is no trace of any children being born.

Thomas Ford died aged 70 years on 30th June 1956 at the Brighton General Hospital, Brighton. Probate as seen below was awarded to his Widow.
Grace survived her husband by another 17 years. She died on 5th October 1973 in Surrey.

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Research problems 

The frustration of not having any Army records.

William Clinch

Family life

William Clinch was born on 24th March 1895 in Pagham, West Sussex. His birth is registered at Westhampnett, West Sussex. Westhampnett was the registration area for the Bognor Regis area until 1835 when it was consumed by the Chichester Registration District. William was baptised on 21st April 1895 in Pagham.

William is found in the 1901 Census as a six year old boy living with his parents and his siblings at Bognor Road, Pagham. His Grandmother Fanny Madgwick is also at the house at the time of the Census.

Home life

William appears to be the third child of his father William and mother Eleanor (Ellen) Clinch. His father was an Agricultural Labourer and his mother was a Laundress. William senior, and Eleanor Matilda Madgwick married in 1892. The marriage is registered in Westhampnett.

William has two elder sisters, Nellie and Lillie, and two younger brothers and sister Henry, Leonard, and Edith.

The 1911 census found William, who is now 16, as a Gardener. He is still living with his parents although the family has moved to Old Barrack Lane, Aldwick, Pagham, West Sussex. His parents have now been married 19 years. The elder girls have left the family home and six other additions have been made. His new brothers and sisters are Frederick Enos, Bertie Edwin, Alfred Ernest, Millicent Elsie, Albert Edward and Violet Matilda. The grandmother is still at the premises. William Senior is a Farm Labourer.

On 16th October 1914 William became a Police Constable with the Brighton Borough Police Force. It is not known where he was living at the time. 

Military career

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

William applied to the then Chief Constable of Brighton Borough Police William Gentle for permission to join the Army. With others, Jack Cheesman, Sydney Millen, Richard Lintott, Sidney Waylan, and Frederick White permission was granted to leave on 11th May 1815.

William Clinch attested on 11th May 1915 at Brighton, Sussex along with Jack Cheesman, Richard Lintott, Sid Millen and George Catt for the Royal Sussex Regiment. William declared his age to be 20 years and one month. He declared his father William Clinch of Hall House, Barrack Road, Aldwick, West Sussex to be his next of kin.

William Clinch stated his home address was 10 Terminus Street, Brighton.

On 21st May, along with PC Avis and PC Catt and PC Cheesman he was posted to 10th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment for training at Colchester until 13th September 1915. He was allocated service number GS/6815. His record shows the number prefixed with the letters “GS”, which was used to signify that the soldier was conscripted for “General Service”.

On 8th September William passed a course of instruction in stretcher bearing and first aid. Catt, Avis, Cheesman and Millen were also on this course. After initial training William was posted to Shoreham Depot between 13th September 1915 along with Catt, Cheesman and Avis.

On 23rd September 1915 he was posted to France to join the 9th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment. On 28th September he was promoted to a Lance Corporal. On the same day he embarked for France at Folkestone.

The 9th “Service” Battalion was raised at Chichester in 1914. At the time the 9th Battalion was already in France and had been so since 1st September and had moved up to the battle trenches at Vermelles on 25th September. The 9th had joined up with other battalions to become part of the 24th Division. William would have joined up with the 24th.

The 24th Division was a completely untried unit and although it is unclear exactly what day William would have caught up with the Division he was probably thrown into “the thick of it” at Vermelles where they were ordered to advance on “Fosse 8”, a large and conspicuous mining slag heap. The Fosse was to be held at all costs despite several German attacks from heavy artillery and machine gun fire and a lack of food and water. The 9th Battalion held on until withdrawn to Sailly-Labourse during the night of 27th.

The following months found the 9th Battalion at Proven near Ypres after several days of marching, trains and lorry journeys. The rains were constant and the trenches were flooded. The Battalion was busy filling in excess of 200 sandbags daily, a total of 5000 were required to stem the flooding. The men were exhausted and were receiving little respite from the trenches and training.

The whole of December was spent in Houlle, some 35 miles west from the fighting zone. Intensive training continued. Christmas and the New Year were spent safely in that quiet area of France.

January 1916 found William still with the 9th Battalion in France.  It was at this stage that George Catt had joined the Battalion when they 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.

The Battalion 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. 

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.

During the first week of October three men died from wounds while the Battalion held the line in front of Souchez, north-west of Arras prior to returning to trenches in Loos.

On 27th October 1916 The London Gazette published the following in a special supplement: “His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to award the Military Medal for bravery in the field to the undermentioned non-commissioned Officers and men:-

Page 10477 6814 Cpl.J Cheesman R. Suss. R.

Page 10477 6815 L./C. W. Clinch R. Suss. R.

Page 10481 6812 Cpl. R. Lintott R. Suss. R.

The Sussex Daily News on 1st November 1916 published the following

Honours for Brighton Policemen, in the list of NCO’s and men of the Royal Sussex Regiment awarded the Military Medal which appeared in Saturdays Sussex Daily News, the names of Corporal R Lintott, Corporal J Cheesman, and Lance Corporal W Clinch were included. It is interesting to learn that these gallant men were all in the Brighton Police Force.

It can now be proved that the Trio of Cheesman, Clinch and Lintott were together at the time of an amazing act of bravery between the three of them, which earnt them the Military Medal each.

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Military Medal

November and December were quiet months considering the history of the rest of the year. The Battalion remained around the Loos area either in the front line or in reserve and enjoyed a Christmas dinner. The beginning of 1917 found William on leave in the United Kingdom between 15th January to 25th January. February was also relatively quiet. The Battalion was at Hesdigneul, where they had “moved out” to rest.

March found the 9th Battalion back in the thick of it, returning to the line in the area of Arras where an enemy attack was thwarted. The German bombardment caused several casualties.

April came in with a blast of cold weather, snow blizzards and fighting. In full action on 12th and 13th the British attacked the German positions in Bois-en-Hache. At the cost of 60 Battalion casualties, through a snow blizzard, the enemy’s first and second lines were taken. The ground had been churned up through shelling activity and snow into a sea of mud. The Battalion finally was given a well-earned rest falling back to Estree Blanche for a week of reorganisation which ended with a forced march to Houchin where during May they rested, trained and integrated new men.

June 1917 saw one of the most successful British attacks of the war at the Battle of Messines Ridge. The 9th were fully involved on the 7th despite gas attacks and shelling. The battalion suffered 134 wounded with 3 men missing. This action was the prelude to the 3rd Battle of Ypres.

On 13th June 1917 William along with others was transferred as a Corporal to the Military Foot Police under Army Council Instruction No. 1733. 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 :—

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

William was temporarily transferred to the Military Foot Police for the duration of the war.

On 12th December 1917 he joined up with the 2nd Army at the Adjutant-Generals Office in Rouen, probably for training. William is still a Lance Corporal. He remains until 8th December 1917 where he joins the 3rd Army in the field. The same date that Jack Cheesman also joins the 3rd Army.

William is on leave in the UK during February 1918. He is still with the 3rd Army on 1st June 1918. On 11th January 1919 William is sent on leave to the UK until 7th February and although not stated probably returns to the 3rd Army.

William was medically examined on 25th 1919 where he signs that he has no disabilities. William is transferred to Class Z reserves at Aldershot on 29th August 1919 having arrived at the dispersal unit Crystal Palace on 2nd August 1919. His address on demobilisation is 2 North View, Chichester Road, Bognor Regis. He notifies the Army that although the Bognor Regis address is his home address he permanently lives at 2 Quebec Street, Brighton. 

William was awarded the Military Medal along with the 1914-1915 Star, The British War Medal and Victory Medal. The medals below are not the actual medals issued to Clinch.

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1914- 1915 Star

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Victory Medal

British War Medal

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British War Medal

Post warIt is known that William rejoined the Brighton Borough Police after returning from the War. The Chief Constable of Brighton Borough Police, William Gentle reported to the Brighton Watch Committee that the William Clinch had reported for duty on 28th August 1919.

At some stage William Clinch is promoted to Sergeant and becomes a Detective Sergeant. He is a Detective Sergeant in July 1931 where he is mentioned in the Kent and Sussex Courier as a Brighton Detective Sergeant investigating a Golf Club burglary.

He was a Detective Sergeant until his promotion to Uniform Inspector on 21st May 1937 as reported below by the Brighton Post on 26th May 1937.

The 1939 Register is our next insight to William and finds him living at 129 Overhill Drive, Brighton. William is shown as being born on 24th March 1895. He is shown as a Police Inspector. William is living with wife 45 year old Cecilia Croke who he had married in 1922 at Brighton.

Also living at Overhill Drive was his son William K Clinch born 1923 along with a daughter Maureen E Clinch born 1932.

No death certificate for either William or his wife can be found. It may be that they emigrated but no records can be found with regards to their possible travel.

Copyright Researched and reported by

Ian Borthwick 2017 Retired Sussex Police Officer AB579, Served between Nov 1976 to March 2007.

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.

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1914- 1915 Star

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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.

 

 

 

The Orange Lilies film shorts

shot_1493220388754.jpgJust to let you know about the new four short films we’ve created with young people from Brighton & Hove about life in the city in WWI supported by film maker Tracey Gue for The Orange Lilies – Brighton & Hove in the Somme project.

They’re a talented bunch!

You can see them online on You Tube, link here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEhJKbkBIHqf4dJQ7mnptzYi_qqn3yp2O

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