Robert Funnell

Robert Funnell was born in 1889 in Brighton. He died on the 21st of March 1918 in France. at 29 years old. Robert was in the Royal Sussex Regiment 11th Battalion. His rank was acting Lance Corporal, service number was SD/3842.

Family and Home life

Robert’s father Robert Funnell was born in 1857 in Danehill, Sussex, the son of William and Mary Funnell and the seventh of nine children. He married Jemima Eager in 1879 at St Peter’s Church in Brighton.

In 1881 they lived at 9 Frederick Gardens with their daughter Jemima aged one and George Taylor, who was a ‘carriers carman’, lodged with them. Robert, also worked as a ‘carriers carman’.

In 1882 their daughter Emma Mahala was born, followed by Alice in 1886/88 and Robert Trainton in 1889. In 1891 the family lived at 6 Queens Street and Robert senior worked as a ‘carman’.

The 1901 census showed the family home was still in Queens Street, and two boarders also lived there, but daughter Jemima who had married Harry Barker in January 1901 lived in Trafalgar Street and her sister Alice was possibly working as a servant in London.

The 1911 census showed Robert was, like his father, working as a ‘carman’, and he and his parents had moved to 7 Foundry Street. Arthur Montgomery, a boot and shoe salesman boarded with them.  

Robert’s father died in 1916 aged 59 years. In 1918 his Mother lived at 28, Newtown Road, Hove.

Military Career

Robert enlisted with the Royal Sussex Regiment 11th Battalion, his service number is SD/3842. He was killed in action during the German Spring offensive sometime between 21 of March 1918 and 3rd of April 1918. He is commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial in France.

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

His effects were sent to his Mother in August 1919.


Victory Medal


Post War

Robert’s Mother died in Worthing in 1936.

Research Notes

Little information about Robert’s military career appears to have survived. From the 1911 census the Funnell name has been transcribed as Tunnell. Various branches of the Funnell Family have researched their history and much information can be found on the Funnell’s Wood website. 

Queen Street was demolished to make way for a coal shed, which was opened in 1905 as part of Brighton Railway Station. The Hall Genealogy Website states that a carman is a driver of (horse-drawn) vehicles for transporting goods. Carmen were often employed by railway companies for local deliveries and collections of goods and parcels.

Robert Funnell is listed on the Brighton Roll of Honour website in the following way:

Lance Corporal SD/3842, 11th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment (1st South Downs). 39th New Army Division. Killed in action during the German Spring offensive 3rd April 1918.

Aged 29. Born and enlisted in Brighton. Next of kin, Brighton. Listed in St. Peters Memorial Book under L/Cpls. Commemorated on The Pozieres Memorial MR. 27.

Sydney Barrow

Sydney Barrow was born, 13th October 1885 at Berwick, East Sussex. He died on the 11th October 1962 in Brighton. At the age of 77 years. His Regiment was the 2/1st Sussex Yeomanry and his rank was Acting Corporal, Service number: 171267.

 His profession pre-war was Brighton Borough Police Officer and his profession post-war was Bailiff at Brighton County Court.

He married in 1919 to Nellie Durden in Eastbourne.

Family life

Sydney Barrow was born 13th October 1885 in Berwick, East Sussex where his ancestors appear to have lived for several generations.

Home life

Sydney was the younger brother of Herbert who was born in 1884. Sydney and Herbert attended Berwick School.

The picture below shows the two boys with their parents Frederick and Ellen. Sydney is on the left.


By 1901 Sydney was working on a farm as a worker. He is still living in Berwick.

On 11th March 1908 Sydney became a Police Constable with the Brighton Borough Police Force. It is not known where he was living at the time but within the 1911 Census, three years later; it is revealed that he was living with his Uncle Benjamin John Woodall at 41 Kings Street, Brighton. Woodall had married Isabel Barrow. 

Military career

The Military records are very sketchy for Sydney Barrow, only two documents have been found. Upon the two WW1 Plaques within The Old Police Museum Cells at Brighton, Sydney appears to be with two units, The Sussex Yeomanry and The Northumberland Fusiliers.

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 and according to the “Silver Badge” records attested to join the Army the same day.

Other Police Officers that had applied for permission to join the Army that were released from the Police on the same date as Barrow are shown below:-

Herbert Boxall, Thomas Ford, Ernest Griggs, Henry Hayter, Charles Moorey and George Sutton.

The first record from the UK, WW1 Service Medal and Awards Rolls, 1914 -1920 shows that he qualified for the British War Medal along with the Victory Medal. He was Acting Corporal in the Sussex Yeomanry and his service number was SY 171267. The medal form which is dated 1920 also shows Sydney as a Lance Sergeant with the Northumberland Fusiliers, service number 237027.


Victory Medal


British War Medal


Within the Silver War Badge Roll transcription held at ‘Find my past an entry is found which records Sydney as having enlisted on 19th May 1915. At some stage unknown he received a Gun Shot wound and was discharged from the Army due to injury on 13th December 1918 aged 33yrs as a Lance Sgt. Sydney was awarded a Silver War Badge number B/65986.

Post war

Sydney Barrow eventually returns to Brighton Borough Police Force on 9th October 1919. It is not known where he has been since his discharge. A picture below is undated. The 1939 Register is our next insight to Sydney’s life which finds him alive and well living at 187 Ditchling Road, Brighton.  Sydney married Nellie Durden at Eastbourne in 1919. The couple appear to have four children;

Kathleen Mary Barrow born 25th April 1920 Brighton.

Norah Phyllis Barrow born 19th December Brighton.

Audrey Ellen Barrow born 1924 Brighton.

Hilda A Barrow born 1927 Brighton.

Sydney is shown to be employed as a Bailiff at Brighton County Court

Sydney died in Brighton on 11th October 1962 aged 76 years at Brighton General Hospital. Probate register shows that he was still living at 187 Ditchling Road.

Nellie Barrow died on 7th August 1981 aged 90 years.

Research problems-

The only research problem was a lack of army service records. Copyright Researched and reported by Ian Borthwick 2017. Retired Sussex Police Officer AB579. Served between Nov 1976 to March 2007.

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.

Arthur John King

Arthur John King was born in 1895 in Brighton, and lived there with his family, and worked as a Rivet Lad at Brighton Station, Locomotive and Carriage Department. He enlisted as a private to the 6th (Cyclist) Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment (regimental no. 177) on 12 June 1912, at the age of 17. Arthur died, aged 21, in a bathing accident, at Littlestone on 15 July 1916. He was off duty.

Rudge-Whitworth Bicycles of the 2/6th (Cyclist) Battilion, Royal Sussex Regiment


Arthur was born in Brighton on 4 February 1895 to Samuel and Jane King who had 12 children in all, 5 of whom had died by 1911. Although Samuel was born in Brighton, he lived in Plymouth for some time, marrying a Devon girl, Jane Philp, in 1885 at the age of 29.
By the time of the 1891 census, still living in Plymouth, the couple had 2 sons and 2 daughters. Shortly afterwards, Samuel moved back to Brighton with his family and by 1901 had a further three children, including Arthur (1895) and his younger brother, Alfred Cornelius King (1899), who also served in WW1 and is also listed on the plaque.

Home life

In 1901, at the age of 6, Arthur was living with his family in Hollingbury Road in a property called St Malo and by 1911, they had moved to 22 New England Road.
Residence of Arthur John King 22 New England Road

22 New England Road (grey house, bottom left), Google Maps, Retrieved 5/16/2017

His father, Samuel, a hairdresser, had a salon at 70 Preston Road (now Preston Park Deli) which stayed in the family for over fifty years (c.1911-1969), passing from father to daughter (Ethel Maud King) around the 1940s.
Image result for preston park deli

Preston Park Deli

He had previously had a salon at 26 Market Street, at the southeast corner of Little East Street, a building which was demolished in 1960.
He lived with his parents and four siblings at 22 New England Road. Two of his siblings (Alfred and Emily) were still at school and two older sisters (Helen and Emily) were both dressmakers.

Railwaymen streaming down New England Road on their way to a hurried breakfast, in 1912. They started work at 6 am, and had a break for their breakfast between 8 and 8.30. Most of the men lived quite near to the Works, in such streets as Argyle Road, while others lived in Railway houses in adjoining roads.

Arthur had joined London, Brighton and South Coast Railway on 17 August 1910, aged 15, as a Rivet Lad at Brighton Station, Locomotive and Carriage Dept. At the age of 16, Arthur was described in the 1911 census as an apprentice boiler rivetter.  By the time he enlisted in 1912, aged 17, he was describing himself as a maker.
once the site of the locamotive works

“I’ve been documenting the demolition of the warehouses on New England Street, that were once part of the Locomotive Works. They were last occupied by Martha’s Barn, Cliffords and John’s Camping. Behind John’s Camping from the road (now demolished) leading to the Station Car park, 15/1/2004. New England House can be seen on the right; the Clarenden Centre to the left; and the viaduct in the distance.”
© Alan (Fred) Pipes

Military career

Arthur was enlisted as a private to the 6th (Cyclist) Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment (regimental no. 177) on 12 June 1912 and was mobilized after training on 5 August 1914.
His medical inspection report on enlistment described him as 5 feet 4 inches tall, with a chest measurement of 34 inches. He was appointed (unpaid) to the rank of Lance Corporal on 30 September 1915, to (paid) acting Lance Corporal on 30 December 1915, and promoted to Acting Corporal on 14 February 1916. His total service, till his death on 15 July 1916, was 4 years and 35 days.
The 6th (Cyclist) Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment was formed in 1912 and was one of 14 cyclist battalions at the start of WW1. They were part of the Territorial Force (TF), the volunteer reserve component of the army in existence from 1908-1920. The TF was seen as a home defence force, the cyclist battalions being employed largely on UK coastal defences. At the end of WW1, the TF was reformed and renamed the Territorial Army.
Like others in his battalion, Arthur did not see any service overseas, and at the time of his death, he was NCO in charge of the Lookout Station at Littlestone, Kent.
Arthur died, aged 21, in a bathing accident at Littlestone on 15 July 1916. Off duty, he went with Lance Corporal Frank Wooller in bathing costume and overcoat to the Littlestone front, near the lifeboat boathouse. According to witnesses, he was possibly not a good swimmer and probably fell off the landing stage in
to the water. An inquest recorded a verdict of accidental drowning.

Watch House Littlestone

Arthur John King is buried at Brighton City (Bear Rd) Cemetery, grave reference ZGV.55. He is also listed in the St Peters Memorial Book under Corporals and on St Johns Church Memorial, Preston Park. At the time of his death, his parents were living
at 24 Herbert Road, Brighton.

Albert Sambucci – A Brighton Italian fighting with the British

 Alberto Sambucci was born in Brighton in 1892 to parents, Philiomena and Loreto, who had emigrated from Italy. “He was married and had a son, Loreto, who was only two when his dad was killed. He also had a baby daughter, Philomena, who was born after his departure for France so he never saw her.”
Written account by Alberto’s grand daughter as published on: ‘The Wartime Memories Project – The Great War’
In 1891 the Sambucci family was living in 4 rooms at 16 Spa Street, Brighton. Spa Street was demolished in the late 1890s under a slum clearance scheme, and replaced by Tillstone Street, which runs from Park Hill at the bottom of Queen’s Park to Eastern Road. Sometime before 1901, the family moved to Ivory Court in Ivory Place, where Albert spent much of his life. Like other immigrants of Italian descent in Brighton, the Sambuccis set up an ice cream business.
At the time of the 1911 Census, the Sambucci family were living in 4 Ivory Court (listed as having 3 rooms). Albert was aged 19 and living with his two younger sisters, Clara (aged 13) and Nellie (aged 9). His mother is recorded has being head of the family and the father’s name is crossed through. This could indicate that he had died or was no longer living with the family, or in another house nearby, as other Sabuccis are listed on the same census on the same street (Ivory Court). There is also a Loreto Sambucci recorded as living in Lewes during the 1911 census too.

In 1911 the census form was completed by the residents of a property and later checked by an enumerator. Interestingly the form for 4 Ivory Court was completed and signed by Albert’s elder brother, Joseph Sambucci, who didn’t live there.  Joseph’s postal address beneath his signature isn’t clear. It looks like he wrote 2 Ivory Court and changed the “2” to a “4”. However, he was actually living close by at No 1. Ivory Court.  Why did Joseph fill in the form? Perhaps his parents weren’t literate or maybe their command of English wasn’t good enough and they required their eldest son to complete the form for them.

However, another strange feature of the 1911 census form is that Loreto’s name was crossed out in red by the enumerator and he was not included in the totals at the bottom of the form. This suggests that he wasn’t actually living on the premises and that maybe he had been included by mistake. Florrie was listed – again in red ink – as head of the family.

In fact the reason why Joseph completed the Census form for his mother and the explanation for Loreto’s absence is rather a startling one and can be found in London Daily News of March 25th 1911. The paper reported that Loreto had been charged with being drunk while in possession of a loaded revolver and he was sentenced to one month imprisonment. As the deadline for the Census return was 2nd April 1911, he would have been in prison when the Census was taken, which is why the enumerator would have crossed out his name.

Albert Sambucci birth
A previous census recorded Albert has having two older sibilings. His brother Joseph in 1911 Joseph ( aged 24) was living at 1 Ivory Court with his wife Blanche ( aged 22) and baby daughter Margareta (3 months).
His sister Mary (or maria) is not listed and must have had alternative lodgings. She married John Wilcox in 1921 and also lived at Ivory Place with her own family in the 1920’s.

In 1911 Joseph Sambucci (24) is living at 1 Ivory Court with his wife Blanche (22) and baby daughter Margareta (3 months) Joseph was born in Brighton & Blanche came from Middlesborough. They had been married for 2 years with the one child in 1911.  Joseph is listed as an employer & his business is Ice Cream Manufacturer – run from home. Blanche is a boarding house waitress.

Ivory Court was off Ivory Place, which runs parallel to Grand Parade between Morley Street and Richmond Parade. This area of Brighton was a slum area and the courts often contained the worst housing in the town.

Ivory Place

Ivory Place, 1935, Copyright The Royal Pavilion and Museums Brighton & Hove

Ivory Court was on Ivory Place, which runs parallel to Grand Parade between Morley Street and Richmond Parade. This area of Brighton was a slum area and the courts often contained the worst housing in the town.
The Sambucci family seems to have occupied several of the tenements in Ivory Court. No. 4, where Albert lived, only had 3 rooms, which, although not unusual at the time, may have made it a bit crowded. In 1911 Joseph was listed at living at No. 1 Ivory Court and Albert’s father, Loreto was listed in the 1901 Census and a 1902 street directory as variously living at number 2 and no 4 Ivory Court, so it is possible that, over time, the family rented several of the tenements in the court and spread themselves across the properties.
“Nobody moved into the area, because nobody moved out. Neighbours used to sit on the step and talk to passers by. This is why people didn’t want to move; the community was there. They married people who lived almost next door. The community feeling went when we were moved out to Whitehawk.” Carlton Hill Tea Party held at the Lewis Cohen Urban Studies Centre at Brighton Polytechnic May 25th 1984

Albert’s Marriage

In 1912 Albert married Virginia Panetta, from Lewes. Virginia was born in about 1895 in Italy but was now resident in the UK. She lived at 3 Malling Street with her Mother Maria Panetta, who was 40 years old in 1911 and head of the family. Virgina had a sister Emilia, who was 13 in 1911 and a brother Eugenie, who was 7; both of them went to school. Also living at the house was 61 year old Benedette Panetta, who is described as a general servant and domestic worker.

Interestingly Emilia was born in Dundee and Eugenie in Broughty Ferry (a suburb in Dundee), so the Panetta family must have moved down from Scotland in the previous 6-7 years. On the 1911 Census Maria and Virginia’s occupations were shown as “assisting in business”. Maria was also described as “employer” and the 1911 Kelly’s Sussex Street Directory lists her as a confectioner.

When Virginia married Albert she was 17 years old and he was 19 or 20. From Albert’s War Record it looks like they set up house at 3 Ivory Buildings, round the corner from his home in Ivory Court.

The Sambucci Family – Ice Cream Vendors

On the 1901 census Loreto Sambucci is recorded as being an ice cream vendor. On the 1911 census the family business continues to be listed as an Ice Cream Business. Albert and his mother Philiomena are listed as assisting in the business and Albert’s older brother Joseph as being an employer and ice cream manufacturer, and was possibly head of the business as a result of his fathers absence. The ice cream business is recorded as being run from home and the ice cream sold on the beach front.

“The penny capitalists

The opportunities offered by the holiday industry also encouraged a proliferation of small and miniature businesses, the ‘penny capitalism’ that flourishes in this kind of setting.
There was endless contemporary comment, in tones ranging from affection to exasperation, on the impossibility of promenading on the sea front or spending time on the beach without being serenaded by street singers or ‘German’ brass bands, snapped by itinerant photographers, accosted by organ-grinders with monkeys, invited to partake of fruit, sweets, gingerbread, shellfish or ice cream, or urged to offer a copper or two to a puppet or performing animal show. Boatmen, music-hall shows, lodgings and cheap restaurants touted for custom, and it was sometimes physically difficult to find a way through the importunate throng.”

The introduction of the ice cream machine

In the 19th century, ice cream manufacture was simplified with the introduction of the ice cream machine in 1843 in both England and America. This consisted of a wooden bucket that was filled withice and salt and had a handle which rotated. The central metal container, containing the ice cream was surrounded the salt and ice mixture. This churning produced ice cream with an even, smooth texture.
Previously it was made in a pewter pot kept in a bucket of ice and salt and had to be regularly hand stirred and scraped from the side of the pewter pots with a ‘spaddle’ which is a sort of miniature spade on a long handle.
The key factor in the manufacture of ice cream was ice. Where was it to come from? In the early 19th century importation of ice started from Norway, Canada and America, this made ice cream readily available to the general public in the UK. Ice was shipped into London and other major ports and taken in canal barges down the canals, to be stored in ice houses, from where it was sold to ice cream makers.
This burgeoning ice cream industry, run mainly by Italians, started the influx of workers from southern Italy and the Ticino area of Switzerland to England.In London they lived in the most appalling conditions in and around the Holborn area. The huge ice house pits built near Kings Cross by Carlo Gatti in the 1850s, where he stored the ice he shipped to England from Norway, are still there and have recently been opened to the public at The London Canal Museum.

A photograph taken on Brighton’s seafront near the  Free Shelter Hall around 1910 showing a woman holding a child and offering “pure ices” and ice cream from a barrow. On the sides of the barrow are painted the words “Pure Ices” and “Hokey Pokey” ice cream.

Carlo Gatti and the Italian Ice Cream Trade in 19th Century London

Carlo Gatti is credited with being one of the first to offer ice cream for sale in the streets of London. Carlo Gatti employed his fellow countrymen to take his ice cream around London streets in insulated barrows. They offered small sample of the ice cream wrapped in waxed paper by calling out “Ecco un poco“, which roughly means “Try a little“. The Italian phrase “ecco un poco” sounded something like “hokey pokey” to London ears and the ice cream vendors became known as “Hokey Pokey” men. The ice cream itself gained the nickname “Hokey Pokey“. A photograph taken near the Free Shelter Hallon Brighton’s seafront around 1910 shows a woman holding a child and offering ice cream from a barrow.  On the sides of the barrow are painted the words “Pure Ices” and “Hokey Pokey” ice cream.

Before the introduction of edible cones in the late 1880s, ice cream was served from the barrow in a small glass cup called a “penny lick”. The purchaser of the ice cream would lick the ice cream from the glass and return it to the vendor. The glass would be wiped clean with a piece of cloth and then filled with ice cream for the next customer.  Customers who did not want to eat the ice cream standing at the barrow could take the ice cream away after having it wrapped in waxed paper.

Carlo Gatti and Battista Bolla invited their relatives and other Swiss-Italians to join their thriving catering businesses in London. Hundreds of Swiss-Italians emigrated from Ticinoto London in the second half of the nineteenth century. Ticino had a growing population but only a small amount of good farming land.  Unemployment was high and during the series of poor harvests between 1847 and 1854, a large number of Ticinesi left their nativeSwitzerland for other European countries and North America. [The local council in Ticino actually paid a lump sum (equal to six months’ wages) to working men in order to encourage them to leave Ticino].

The prospect of finding paid work in the Swiss-Italian cafes an restaurants that were springing up in London, encouraged a further exodus of emigrants from Ticino in the latter half of the nineteenth century. By the late 1870s and early 1880s, Swiss-Italians who had found work as waiters, barmen, pastry cooks and confectioners in London migrated to expanding seaside towns such as Brighton.

Alberto in France

Albert Sambucci enlisted in the Royal Sussex 11th Battalion for a three year term, or until the end of the war, in September 1914 in Hove, East Sussex. In records, he is listed as both L/Cpl Albert Sambucci  and also as Private Sambucci in TheyservedWiki & the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) with either of these enlistment numbers:  SD/3144 or 3444.  Most sources agree SD3444 in the Royal Sussex Regiment – 11th Battalion.
He died in June 1916 at the age of 23 in the run up to The Battle of Boar’s Head at Richebourg, and The Somme, it is not know how he died. He is buried in Cambrin Churchyard Extension  (Grave/Memorial Reference N.42)
Burial place of Sambucci

“His letters speak of the cold and lice-ridden blankets. He also mentioned being made a bomber and trench raids. He said on one occasion it took him 2.5 hours to cover 120 yards from no mans land back to his trench. His last letter written just two days before his death said he was in the pink and hopeful of some leave. On the day that he was killed the Battalion diary states that three other ranks were killed when Sap15 was blown in, then an hour later two other ranks were shot by sniper fire, so we do not know the circumstances of his last moments.”

Written account by Alberto’s grand daughter as published on: ‘The Wartime Memories Project – The Great War’

A Bit About Cambrin Churchyard

At one time, the village of Cambrin housed brigade headquarters but until the end of the FirstWorld War, it was only about 800 metres from the front line trenches. The village contains two cemeteries used for Commonwealth burials; the churchyard extension, taken over from French troops in May 1915, and the Military Cemetery “behind the Mayor’s House.” The churchyard extension was used for front line burials until February 1917 when it was closed,but there are three graves of 1918 in the back rows.
The extension is remarkable for the very large numbers of graves grouped by battalion, the most striking being the 79 graves of the 2nd Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and 15 of the 1st Cameronians (Row C), the 35 of the 2nd Royal Welch Fusiliers and 115 of the 1st Middlesex (Row H), all dating from 25 September 1915, the first day of the Battle of Loos.
Cambrin Churchyard Extension contains 1,211 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, 8 being unidentified. There are also 98 French, 3 German
and 1 Belgian burials here. The cemetery was designed by Charles Holden.

Performance of a new score + screening of 1916 film ‘The Battle of the Somme’ – Hastings

20161108_110128.jpgHastings Sinfonia is proud to be part of Somme100 FILM, an international project bringing together 100 live orchestral performances of the IWM film The Battle of the Somme to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle.

The original restored 1916 film, by Geoffrey Malins and John McDowell, with our live performance of Laura Rossi’s new score, lasts approximately 74 minutes. It is not recommended for children under 12.

We are delighted that our performance will be introduced by two special guest speakers: Dr Toby Haggith from The Imperial War Museums, and the composer Laura Rossi.

For more information about the project go to

Venue and booking: St. Mary in the Castle, Hastings, England

Lewes History Group talk on the Southdowns Battalions in WWI: Monday 8 May 2017

Chris Kempshall: Lowther’s Lambs and the Boar’s Head

The nature and events of the Battle of the Somme have seen it become a byword for loss and tragedy in regards to the First World War.
However, the planning and implementation of the assault, then the biggest effort the British army had ever undertaken, began in the counties and towns of Britain in 1914. The disastrous first day of the Somme also overshadowed other tragedies in the lead up to zero hour.
Dr Chris Kempshall will discuss the route men from Lewes and East Sussex took from joining the Royal Sussex Regiment as ‘Lowther’s Lambs’ to the moment they went over the top on the 30th June 1916 at the Boar’s Head.
He will place the events leading up to the Battle of the Somme in both local and international context. Through this he will show how, to try and ensure success on the first day of the Somme, many soldiers gave their lives on ‘The Day that Sussex Died’.

Lowther's Lambs
Image courtesy of the East Sussex WW1 Project
All are welcome from 7.00pm for free refreshments and updates on the Group’s activities. The talk will begin promptly at 7:30pm and will finish by 9.00pm.
There is an entry fee for these meetings, payable at the door, of £2 for members, and £3 for non-members.
Venue: The King’s Church building on Brooks Road, Lewes, BN7 2BY. (Between Tesco car park and Homebase)
See the Meetings page for a list of  forthcoming monthly talks organised by the Lewes History Group.

Patrick Francis Langton – A Hove Private Remembered

20161108_110128.jpgPatrick Francis Langton , born in 1897 in Teddington Surrey, was a bricklayer living at 6 Hove Street in Hove, East Sussex, before becoming a Private in the  Royal Sussex  12th Battalion  39th Division (service number SD/2370).

He died at The Battle of Boar’s Head at Ferme Du Bois France,  the deadliest battle for the Royal Sussex Battalion, on the 30th of June 1916, also known as ‘the day that Sussex died’. Patrick Francis was 19.

George St HoveFAMILY  LIFE

At the time of the 1911 census, Patrick Francis’ parents, John Langton (50 years old), a Cycle Engineer, and his Mother Ada E. Langtono (37 years old) are recorded to have been married for 14 years with three children.

Patrick Francis was the eldest at 13 years of age at the time of the census, followed by his sister Madge at 11 years and brother Fredrick at 9 years.

The family is recorded to have worshiped at All Saints Church Hove Sussex (parish records not available). Patrick Francis is not recorded to have married.

All Saint Church, Hove circa 1910

All Saints Church, Hove, circa 1910


Private Langton was posthumously awarded The Victory Medal and The  British War Medal. He enlisted in the British Army on 15 March 1915 in Hove Sussex.

Soldiers at one of the many camps accross sussex

Soldiers at a Sussex Camp

On 1st November 1915 the 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. (War Records)

Royal Sussex Regement in Training

Sussex Regiment in Training


The following extracts depict the events of The Battle of Boar’s Head that lead to Patrick Francis’ death.

The  12th battalion war diary reads:

‘On 29th June 1916 ‘Two companies marched for Richburg and Vielle Chapelle and joined the  rest of battalion in  the front line  at Ferme Due Bois.  (The Battle of Boar’s Head)  Artillery bombarded enemy trenches from 2pm to 5pm. 12th Battalion attacked enemy front and support  lines and succeeded in entering same. 

The support  line was occupied for about half hour and the front line for four hours. The withdrawal was necessitated by the supply of bombs and ammunition giving out  by heavy enemy barrage on our front line and communication trenches preventing reinforcement being sent forward.’

12th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment

12th Bn Royal Sussex Regiment (image credited to Paul Reed)

Operation orders were  attached to  the diary. The battalion was relieved by the 14th Hants at 10am and marched to Les Lobes after resting at Richburg.

Battle of Boars Head

Lieunant Frank Walter Moyel wrote on the ICRC INDEX CARD for Private Langton: ‘At 3am on June 30th June 1916 some minutes before the attack. The bay Private Langton occupied with [text illegible] was blown in with bombs and heavy artillery – this I  saw myself, as I was  in the next bay. We had to go forward. I did not see him after.’

The concentration report attached to Private 4975 Earnest Leonard Mepham  states: ‘The British uncovered a mass grave containing 84 Unknown British Soldiers and 5 Unknown British Officers who all died on 30th June 1916′

An unnamed soldier of  12TH Battlalion from Eastbourne  gave an eye witness report:

We paraded  to go over the top the next morning. We said the Lord’s Prayer with our chaplain who addressed a few words to us and gave us a blessing. All night we  were hard at work cutting the barbed wire in front and carrying out bridges to put over a big ditch in front of our parapet. 

The time we went over,   guns started a terrible bombardment of the enemy’s trenches..  As soon as this  started the enemy sent up a string of red  lights  as a signal to his own  guns. I got a fragment of shell on the elbow about five minutes before our men went over… They blew our trenches right in, in several  places’


Patrick is Commemorated alongside the other Hove Residents who Fell during The Great War on The Hove War Memorial, the Hove Library Great War Memorial, and the All Saints Church Memorial plaque, the same church his family is recorded to have frequented.


P. F. Langton All Saints Church Hove Memorial

WW1 Memorial Plaque from All Saints Church, Hove, East Sussex

Patrick Francis is also commemorated on The Loos Memorial:

‘Private Langton SD 2370 12TH Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment. 39th Division. Killed in action on the RUE De Bois 30th June 1916 son of John and Ada Langton of 6 Hove Street Hove. Born Teddington and enlisted in Hove.’



Every Man Remembered  writes:

‘Patrick was one of the many casualties in the unsuccessful attack by the 116th. Brigade on The Boar’s Head, near the Rue De Bois at Richebourg. It was a hastily planned action designed to distract the Germans from the main Somme Offensive on 1st. July 1916. A staggering total of 135 of Patrick’s Comrades from the Battalion also Fell on this day’.

In more recent times the following post on the ‘Great War Forum’ in January  2016  records the discovery of Patrick Frances’ ‘death penny’:

‘A very surprising discovery for me at the Ankara Antika Pazari today.  I discovered a ‘death penny’ for Private Patrick Frances Langton. CD 2370. This is the first example I have ever seen here. The only  information from the dealer was that he picked it up some years go on sale in Ankara. I don’t collect these, but I found that could not simply walk by and accept the idea of it just sitting there, and so I bought it…’

This research was completed by Veronica Wright of The Orange Lilies project.















Issac Rayner – Portslade to Peronne


Issac Rayner in Portslade as a young man

The Orange Lilies project aims to highlight the city’s experience of living through The Somme. Through the project, we are gathering and contextualising material and information for city residents, school teachers, researchers and those interested in WWI.

It comprise interviews, newspaper reports & other printed items, photographs, objects and documents held at public libraries, museums and the The Keep archive. Part of the project entails finding relatives and family members with photos and memories of people from the city who served during the Somme, or lived in Brighton and Hove at the time of the batyle between 30th June 1916 and 18th November 1916.

June is a lovely Hove based lady in her early 90s involved with an older people’s group called Memories Past, who married into the Rayner family in the 1940s. Meeting June Rayner not so long ago, we got talking about her husband who was in Burma in World War II, and then his father a Portslade born man called Issac Rayner who served in the Battle of the Somme in 1916 with the Royal Sussex Regiment.

img_3799Issac was born in the 1890s and lived in 35 South Street, Portslade village, part of Brighton and Hove in a house that no longer exists. The photo (to the left and right), whilst not dated, was taken in Portland Road (the road joining Portslade to Hove) by H.W Tubb, a well known photographer at the time with an established business in the area.

Henry William Tubb’s home in Portland Road also served as his studio and business premises. Henry Tubb was keen to point out in his advertisements that his Portland Road Studio was located opposite Portslade Railway Station.

Henry Tubb set up a photographic studio in Portland Road, Hove, around 1899. Describing himself as an “Artist Photographer”, Henry Tubb took studio portraits at his Portland Road Studio, but he was also an “outdoor photographer”, offering to bring his camera along  to “Garden Parties, Wedding groups, etc., appointment”. Henry Tubb was also keen to advertise his expertise in making photographic enlargements.

Tubb’s advertisements proclaimed “Photographs in all Styles – Enlargements of all Description” and the publicity on the reverse of his cabinet and carte-de-visite portraits, under the heading “ENLARGEMENTS TO ALL STYLES”, assured his customers that “the negative of this photograph is preserved from which enlargements or further copies can always be obtained.”  To supplement his photography business, Henry Tubb also made picture frames at his Portland Road premises. (Taken from


An advertisement for H. W. Tubb’s Portland Road Studio which appeared in the Hove Gazette on 16th September 1899.


[ABOVE] The trade plate of photographer H. W. Tubb of Portland Road, Hove, taken from the reverse of a carte-de-visite portrait (c1900)

Issacissac-rayner-with-moustache-wwi (also known as Ike) joined up with the Royal Sussex Regiment at a date unknown during the Somme and became a machine  gunner in the trenches there.  He suffered inordinately in this time and was buried alive whilst tunnelling, being rescued by army colleagues digging him out. Once recovered from this ordeal, he was sent back to the front, where he was then gassed.

From the British Legion website ‘the Battle of the Somme also saw several different weapons being used including mines, poisonous gas and machine guns. Some of the larger machine guns needed 12 men to operate them. The best known innovation of 1916 was the tank, first used in battle at Flers on 15 September 1916. Armoured, tracked vehicles were designed to cross trenches, crush barbed wire and give direct fire support’.

Issac Rayner remained in the army until at least the end of 1919. We can’t be sure, but from the photos seen of him in colonial army wear, posed with other Royal Sussex Regimental soldiers also in shorts, and another portrait shot of Issac with a pith helmet, it seems possible that he was part of a Battalion transferred to India in 1917. Pith Helmets were widely used by the British Army in the Middle East, India and Africa to protect delicate British complexions from the fierce sun.


Issac Rayner

In this postcard sent home to his parents, dated 1st August 1919, Issac is pictured second row from the top, third from the left, clearly identified by his large moustache, something he hadn’t had before enlisting or later when he returned home.

The back of the card reads ‘To mother and Dad, from your affectionate and loving son. I.Rayner xxx Sent to Mrs Rayner, 35 South Street, Portslade, Sussex , England




Issac Rayner 1st Aug 1919

We don’t know anything further of his time with the Royal Sussex Regiment, only that he did survive the war and his injuries. Many soldiers who survived being gassed in the tranches died very young, so Ike was fortunate in this aspect.

6-crown-road-issac-raynerflorence-jane-packer-married-to-issac-rayner-6-crown-rd-garden-portsladeReturning to Portslade, Issac met and married Florence Jane Packer in the early 1920s who at the time lived at 6 Crown Road (see right), Portslade, pictured here in the back garden of the house at a date unknown.

It isn’t known if they knew each other before the war, however Florence was also from a local Portslade family and had grown up in the house in Crown Road along with her parents (see right – Great Grandad Packer) and siblings. florence-packers-father-issacs-fil

Returning to Portslade, Issac lived until 77,  dying at the home inherited by him and Florence from the Packer side of the family at Crown Road, Portslade on  14th November 1962.

Florence it is believed was a strict woman, who wasn’t given to smiling too often. She did lose two of her young nephews (Michael and Donald Packer) in WWII. Both sailors, as were many in the Packer family during the second world war. The two men were on separate naval ships which were torpedoed by German boats, so this may be connected. She died much before her husband Issac but it is unsure when.

Issac and Florence had two sons, Cyril born in 1922, followed by the younger son Dennis, who was born on 6th of September 1926, and a (possibly illegitimate) niece brought up as a daughter of the Rayner family, named Iris.

The photograph below was taken by Stacy Ward, a portrait photographer who took over the business and premises from HW Tubb (and premises moved to 39 Station Road) who earlier took Issac Rayner’s photo in the mid 1900s.


Iris Rayner, Keith her husband and baby Graham in 1942


Photo taken by Stacy Ward Portraits, Station Road, Portslade on 13th Sept 1942

The children all married local Portslade people. Issac and Florence lived in the house at Crown Road (near Fishersgate) until the 1960s.

Dennis was posted to India during World War II age only 19. Below is a snap of him as a private in Poona (now Pune) south of Mumbai, India.


Dennis Rayner in Poona, India age 19 in 1945


Dennis Rayner with friend in the 1940s


Back of photo of Dennis in India

June met and married Dennis Rayner (Issac’s younger son) in the 1940s and they had four sons who all still live in the area. Here she is as a young girl with toy pram, and later, aged around 15 in a portrait photographic shot around the time of meeting Dennis Rayner.



June and Dennis were married a long time until Dennis sadly passed away.


Here you can see Dennis with two friends at his retirement party in 1991.