Sergeant John Gamble Waller

This story is the result of an investigation of documents held by Surrey History Centre. The file (SHC ref. CC7/4/4, nos. 1-50) contains correspondence and insurance claims on behalf of Surrey County Council Education Department employees who had been killed in action during the Great War. The cases date from 1915 to 1918.

Name:                                       John Gamble Waller

Occupation:                             Haslemere School

Birth Place:                              Manchester (Longsight), Lancashire

Residence:                               Haslemere

Date of Death:                         Killed in Action 11 September 1916

Age:                                           29 years (born 1 December 1886)

Location:                                  Nasiriyah, Mesopotamia

Rank:                                        Sergeant

Regiment:                                1/5th Battalion, Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment

Regimental Number:            T/1519

John was the son of Herbert and Marian Waller of Brinkley, Southwell, Nottinghamshire.  They had eight children of whom seven survived. The 1911 census shows them living with John and two brothers and two sisters. Incredibly, in the census all family members were described as teachers apart from Marian.

On the 12 February 1917, Herbert wrote a letter to the Surrey Education Committee giving details of the family: Herbert B. (38 years old), Flora E. (36), Eva M. (34), Lily (31) was married and farming in Australia, Arthur F. (25) and training to become a teacher at St John’s College, Battersea, and Sid H. (24) a soldier, possibly commissioned.

By the beginning of the war, John had moved to Surrey, and was living at Lomond Villa, West Street, Haslemere. At the time of his death he had been teaching at Haslemere Council School for two years.

The Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser of Saturday, 14 November 1914 listed all Surrey County Council staff that had joined the forces by that date. It lists John as having pre-war service in the ‘5th West Surrey Territorial’, a part-time soldier.

He was ‘mobilised’ (called up) in Bramley, Surrey, on 5 August 1914, joining the 1/5th Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment, which was a Territorial Force (T.F.) battalion – part-time soldiers.

It had been formed in 1908 out of the old 2nd Volunteer Battalion formed following a reorganisation of the army. As it was a Territorial unit and therefore established for ‘Home Service’ only, soldiers, including John, had to volunteer for overseas service.

In October 1914, the 1/5th Queen’s embarked at Southampton on board the SS Alaunia for India, arriving in Bombay on the 2 December 1914.  It appears the battalion was then dispersed around India carrying out garrison duty until October 1915 when it was warned to be prepared for a move. On 2 December 1915, it sailed from Bombay, and then Basra, Mesopotamia (Iraq) arriving on 7 December.

Here the battalion joined ‘Tigris Force’, comprising regiments newly arrived from Gallipoli and India. In a Territorial Forces Record Officer letter dated 20 September 1916 within John’s Surrey Education Committee file, it describes him as being a member of Expeditionary Force ‘D’ Persian Gulf. This was an army group established in 1914 and responsible for protecting the oil wells in southern Mesopotamia (Iraq).

Tigris Force’s role was to relieve 8,000 British and Indian troops trapped in Kut, 100 miles south of Baghdad. In trying to reach the besieged men, the 1/5th Queen’s supported the relief column, fighting several engagements as it went. The relief failed, and Kut surrendered in April 1916.

The battalion was then based in Nasiriyah, and spent the summer fighting disease and the heat more than the enemy. On 11 September 1916, the Battalion was part of a column that sought to engage a significant number of ‘Arabs’ or ‘Turkish Irregulars’ around the village of As Sahilan.

John was a member of ‘D’ Company which initially supported the 90th Punjabis in the attack. The ‘Arabs’ withdrew, and the village was captured although at the cost of casualties to the battalion, including ‘D’ Company. After engineers had destroyed buildings in the village, the British started to withdraw, but confusion led to a delay and the ‘Arabs’ had time to return. The ‘Arabs’ continued to contest the British withdrawal, and it was not until after two hours of difficult fighting that the Battalion was finally clear.

The Surrey Advertiser of Saturday, 21 October 1916 was the first to report the incident under the banner ‘Mesopotamia Fighting – Casualties to Surrey Territorials’:

‘It was reported last month that on Sept. 11th a British force from Nasiriyah attacked a body of Turkish irregulars who had molested patrols and defeated them. The engagement cost us some casualties, which West Surrey Territorials shared.’

A week later the Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser of Saturday, 28 October 1916, in ‘Surrey & The War, Surrey Territorials in Mesopotamia’, confirmed the casualties:

‘It now appears that in the successful attack by a British force in September, on a body of Turkish Irregulars who had molested our patrols, the West Surrey Territorials took part, and sustained some casualties. Two officers and eight non-commissioned officers and men were killed… the list included 1519 Sergt. J. Waller’.

On 17 September, Captain F.E. Bray wrote to John’s father:

‘You will have heard your son was killed in action on the 11th, and knowing him as I did, I can understand how heavy a blow it must have been to you.

I was near him when he was killed, just as we had begun to work back after covering the party destroying the village which was our objective. I went up to him at once, but he was killed instantaneously by a bullet through his head.

It is just about 4 years since I first knew him, when he was transferred to my company on going to Haslemere, and during the whole time I have never known him to do other than the right thing, and it has always been a pleasure to me to help him get the quick promotion he deserved. But he was much more than merely a good N.C.O. Everyone, officers and men who had anything to do with him, liked him for himself, and I know that I feel I have lost a friend more than a subordinate.’

The officer commanding the 1/5th, Lieutenant Colonel W.L. Hodges also wrote:

‘Last Monday we had to attack an arab [sic] village and destroy it. Your son was right in the thick of the fighting and early on in the action he was struck by a bullet and killed instantaneously. His death is a great loss to us as he was one of our best Sergeants and a type of man will can ill afford to lose. I trust that the thought that he gave his life for his country may be consolation to you in your loss’.

A comrade, Sergeant G.E. Smith, wrote on the 15th

‘I am writing on behalf of the Sergts. Of “D” Company. 1/5th Queens and on my own behalf to offer you our deepest sympathy in the loss sustained in the death of your son Sergt. G. Waller [sic], who, as you have probably already been informed, was killed after an attack on the village of XXX.

He was shot through the head and died almost instantly.

May I suggest that at least you have the consolation (perhaps a poor one in such cases) that he died for his Country and trying to do what he could to further its interests.

Personally my sorrow is of the deepest, for he was in my platoon and I was near him at the time, so that I can testify to his ability, efficiency, and cheerfulness as a soldier and also his staunchness as a mate.’

Another comrade Lance Sergeant Stafford (No. 138) wrote on the 11 September:

‘You will doubtless have heard… of poor Jack’s death in action which occurred this morning, but I feel that I must write to offer you my sincerest sympathy in your sad bereavement. While in India Jack was my closet friend, altho’ the exigencies of the service have not allowed of such close and intimate companionship just lately he was still my best chum. I was not with him when the bullet hit him and cannot give you details of his death but I can assure you he died in the thick of the fighting, and that he died instantaneously.

Last September we spent the holidays together and twas only yesterday that we were recalling some of the splendid times we had… I can only say that I have suffered the loss of the best pal a chap could have had, and both cases the wrenches are very great.’

Finally, A P.H. Crozier, a chaplain with the I.E.F. wrote a quite different type of letter on 18 September:

‘May I convey my deep sympathy with you in your sad bereavement. Your son was amongst those who were to voluntary services (sic). He was killed in action on Sept. 11. He died an Englishman’s death worthy of the traditions of the Regiment to which he belonged he is deeply mourned by those who knew him. He is with a goodly number of men who have laid down their lives in their Country’s cause, and as such he is honoured’.

After his death, John’s family pursued an insurance claim with Surrey County Council, which had taken out an insurance policy on behalf of John.  As part of the process, the Council carried out an investigation into the circumstances of the family. In one letter his family is described as ‘all in good positions’ and in no financial need. His father, however, wrote to the council in January 1917 stating that they had raised eight children on limited means, and it had been ‘no easy matter to struggle through’.

The family was eventually awarded £85 12 shillings and sixpence.

John is buried in the Basra War Cemetery, Iraq, and remembered on memorials at the following locations:

He is entitled to the 1914/15 Star, British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Sources

Surrey History Centre CC7/4/4 File 18

Colonel H.C. Wylly, History of The Queen’s Royal (West Surrey) Regiment in The Great War, (1925)

The History of the Hampshire Territorial Force Association and War Records of Units, 1914-1919

Commonwealth War Graves Commission – https://www.cwgc.org/

Ancestry website – https://www.ancestry.co.uk/

The Impact of WW1 on the Lingfield and Dormansland Area in 1916

Research and text contributed by the RH7 History Group

During the period of WW1 radio was in its infancy and newspapers were one of the main means of reporting news and also communicating official information and instructions.  Both the Surrey Mirror and The East Grinstead Observer continued to be published weekly during the war.  The main theatres of the war and national events were covered but from the point view of the impact of the war on the local area the two publications are a rich source of information.  Reports of events in the RH7 area are usually brief, however the ‘snippets’ which were found give an insight into the life ‘on the home front’.

Conscription Starts
1916 was a bleak year for most families, with the shortage of food and news of local men wounded or killed in the Battle of the Somme coming in weekly.  The beginning of the year saw the introduction of military conscription for men between the ages of 18 and 41.  Conscription impacted greatly on daily life in the local area and in April there was a call up of married men.  Throughout the year the local paper reports weekly cases of appeals for exemption from conscription – either by employers on behalf of their workers or by the men themselves.  Some examples follow:

The Lingfield Drainage Committee reported that the Lingfield Sewage Works Manager had been called up for service.  The Committee recommended the appointment of a temporary manager.  Frederick Head aged 24 had been employed there since ‘a lad’.  He was in charge of the pumping station with nine miles of sewers and land which is cultivated.  It would take a long time to train someone else and he already has three brothers serving.  He was exempted for one more month.

At the beginning of May William Edward Boorer aged 32, plumber and gas fitter of Plaistow Street applied for exemption on the grounds that he was the only one who could look after his business.  He was granted exemption until the end of June but eventually joined the Royal Flying Corps. (The business obviously managed to keep going somehow as after the war William and his brother Fred were partners in a successful ironmongers business on the site of the present Lingfield Garage.)

In July William Miram, butcher, applied for Albert Boorer, aged 37, slaughterman, on the grounds that there was no other slaughterman in the neighbourhood.  Exemption was granted until 11 August.  Albert Boorer eventually joined the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment and went to France in 1917.  His company lost nearly half its strength in its first engagement.  Albert returned to Lingfield after the war and managed his own butcher’s shop in Lingfield High Street.

An application was made by Mrs Skinner, High Street, Dormansland on behalf of Frank Skinner (37) and Gordon May (30) showing and general smiths on the grounds that they were now turning out 100 shoes a week under an Army contract as well as doing repair work for farmers.  Exemption was granted.

Albert George Lawrence, carter of Blockfield Farm, Dormansland, applied for exemption as he was in certified employment.  His employer was 74, farming 214 acres (52 acres arable); he had a son who was ‘delicate’ and looked after the sheep but could not do heavy work.  If the carter went into the army the land would go out cultivation.  Exemption was agreed as long as he stayed in the same employment.

Bert Andrew Gibson, 32, of Clinton Terrace, Dormansland, had previously been sent for an army medical and passed fit.  His employer, Mr Malden, had a large poultry farm in Lingfield and had applied for exemption on the grounds that Gibson was an expert at fattening chickens.  Gibson conducted the ‘Cramming Process’ of chicken fattening – a specialist way of fattening chickens.  Exemption was granted for 3 months.

Preparing for Invasion
In March, the Surrey Mirror reported:
INSTRUCTIONS IN CASE OF INVASION
A placard will be posted in each parish stating:
Careful plans have been made
If a state of emergency is declared stay quietly at home.
Many roads will be closed to all traffic.
If you wish to move you will be given assembly points
Conveyances will be provided for aged, infirm and young children.
All others go on foot.
Take only necessary clothing, boots, blankets and money
It may be necessary to destroy certain property
All movements will be directed by the Police.
Lingfield residents will be directed to Blindley Heath.

Food and other Shortages
Food shortages became a serious issue.  By April 1916 Britain had only six weeks of grain left and four days’ supply of sugar.  ‘Standard’ bread was introduced containing soya and potato as well as wheat and was an unappetising dirty grey colour.  There was an appeal to Surrey farmers to produce as much food as possible.  Farmers were to be paid £1 for employing women ‘Whatever you may think about employing women you must do it.  When women tackle a job they generally do it whether it is managing a husband or milking a cow.’

The government exhorted the public not to waste food and published handy recipes for housewives.  The Surrey Mirror published simple ‘one-course’ dinners under the heading ‘War Time Cookery’, such as Savoury Batter and Gravy; Meat and Vegetable Pudding with Potato.  The paper advises its readers that 3/4lb of bread should be served with each dinner.  Some other suggestions:

  • Use butchers steak trimmings (2d) in a pie
  • Bake your own bread (the shortage of labour meant that bakers could not maintain supply)
  • Use a hay box instead of fuel
  • A ‘northern recipe’ – snow pancakes – contained no egg but a handful of snow instead.  The snow contains air which expands with the head giving a very light pancake,

There were problems for the middle classes – ‘The average servant cannot or will not make vegetable dishes interesting and palatable.  John Bull cannot be expected to become a complete vegetarian nor is it desirable that that he should.’  The public were encouraged to grow their own food where possible.  By the end of the year food prices had increased and coal was in very short supply.  It had even become illegal to throw rice at weddings!  The Surrey Mirror urged people not to be ashamed of wearing old clothes and both papers included patterns for ladies clothes which would not take too much material.

Due to the shortage of paper wood pulp would no longer be imported.  No more free copies of newspapers were issued to libraries.  Newspapers had to be ordered in advance from the newsagent.  On 24 March the local paper reported ‘drastic’ changes in the hours during which Post Office business could be transacted in East Grinstead and the surrounding district.  The hours of public business at the East Grinstead Head Post Office and sub-offices, including Lingfield, would now be 9am to 12.30pm and from 2pm to 7pm.  There would now be only two deliveries per day instead of three (those were the days!).

Warnings for the Public
The War Office announced that many carrier pigeons were being shot.  ‘Many of these birds are used for naval or military purposes.  Anyone found shooting these pigeons will be prosecuted.  If you can’t tell the difference between a wood pigeon and a homing pigeon then don’t shoot at all.  All injured birds are to be handed in to the military authorities.’

Support for the Troops
Advertisements appeared for ‘Trench Comforts’ the illustration showed a cigarette and a pipe of tobacco.  Smokers were urged to donate a special parcel of cigarettes for 1 shilling.  These could be sent post free to a regiment (but not an individual).

In February a plan was announced to supply small holdings for men who had fought in the Great War.  The numbers of wounded men returning from the front had increased to the extent that the East Grinstead Observer offered adverts free of charge on behalf of disabled sailors and soldiers seeking employment.

What about the Children?
Food and fuel shortages affected the children.  Lingfield school was closed until the middle of January because of cases of diphtheria breaking out in the village.  This was followed in February by cases of whooping cough and scarlet fever.  In May there was an epidemic of chicken pox at Lingfield school, with over 50% of the children absent.

In spite of illness, the children were able to assist the war effort.  For the month of September 30 children from Lingfield school were away hop picking.  In October, school children collected horse chestnuts.  This is in response to the Government’s appeal for school-children to collect conkers for the war effort.  Horse chestnuts could be used to produce acetone, a vital component in the manufacture of cordite, used in the munitions industry.  ‘With a county 7/6d (37.5p) a hundredweight the children have soon collected more conkers than there are trains to transport them’.

Empire Day was always an important day in the schools’ calendar, never more so than during the war years.  The Lingfield school headmistress wrote in the log book: ‘it is unusually important that Empire Day shall be celebrated this year.’  A Dormansland school Roll of Honour inscribed with names of Old Boys who had volunteered for service with the forces was presented, framed, ready for hanging in the school.  Several children were personally affected by the sentiments of the ceremony with fathers and brothers serving with the Allied Expeditionary Force, some having been killed or injured.

 

For information on the Lingfield and Dormansland covering the rest of the war years click the following links:

1914

1915

1917

1918

 

The Impact of WW1 on the Lingfield and Dormansland Area in 1914

Research and text contributed by the RH7 History Group

During the period of WW1 radio was in its infancy and newspapers were one of the main means of reporting news and also communicating official information and instructions.  Both the Surrey Mirror and The East Grinstead Observer continued to be published weekly during the war.  The main theatres of the war and national events were covered but from the point view of the impact of the war on the local area the two publications are a rich source of information.  Reports of events in the RH7 area are usually brief, however the ‘snippets’ which were found give an insight into the life ‘on the home front’.


Preparations for War
In the months before August no mention of war was found in the local papers, although contingencies were quietly being put in place.  On 25 July The East Grinstead Observer reported on a Red Cross Field Day held at Imberhorne Farm.  A rest station was prepared ‘near an imaginary battle’ and Territorials in battle kit acted as ‘eounded’, while stretcher bearers administered first-aid and dressed wounds.

The declaration of war on 4 August 1914 initially did not have a great impact on daily life.  The Surrey Mirror edition on the same day carried a cautious report on Britain’s involvement in war.  By the 11 August edition on the same day reported that all doubts were now removed and ‘we know that practically the whole of Europe is in the grip of war…the Fleet is ready and the army mobilising.’

Once war was declared, however, it did not take long for things to step up a gear and for the public to get behind the war effort.  Territorials guarded lines of communication.  Important sections of practically every railway line in the country were guarded, especially lines between Southampton, Aldershot, Chatham and London over which troops might have to be conveyed.

Locally Boy Scouts were posted to guard the viaduct bridge over Cooks Pond, Dormans Park.

Advertisements appeared in the papers for Army pensioners to act as Recruiters and by September the British Red Cross was asking for bandages, instructing people to boil the calico before tearing, leaving no selvedges; the length and width were to be marked with ink and fastened with safety pins.

The Lingfield Emergency Committee was formed.  ‘All the chief residents, farmers, tradesmen and many members of the working class were invited to serve’.  The committee would deal with recruiting, relief, food supply and other urgent matters.  There were appeals for aid for wives and families of soldiers and it was recorded that Lingfield Church gave £25 to the Prince of Wales Fund.  On 25 November the Dormansland school log reported that the children would give an entertainment in aid of the National Relief Fund; this took place in December and raised £13 2s. 11.5d.

Spy Mania
In October 1914, the Surrey Mirror reported that ‘a suspicious foreigner’ was found wandering in a field at Lingfield.  Karl Horvath, aged 18, was unable to give a good account of himself and was remanded; there was no report of what happened to him subsequently.

Alarming stories began to circulate in the local papers.  The Surrey Mirror reported that on Sunday 9 August a troop train near South Godstone was fired at and several windows smashed, although no-one was injured.  From the train four men were seen in a field on the east side of the line.  Three shots were fired at which the men then jumped into a motor car and drove away.  The train was pulled up and Territorials stationed at Redhill, together with police and motor scouts scoured the surrounding country.  ‘Residents in the neighbourhood joined warmly in the chase, one gentleman lending powerful motor car and also guns for six men to go with it.  But it was all in vain and those who man the attack got clean away.’  The next day an attempt was made to fire at Territorials on guard at the L.B. & S.C. Railway loop line at Holmthorpe just outside Redhill .  Sentries fired a round or two and called out the guard.  Two men were seen running away from the embarkment and a search was made but no-one was found.

At about the same time come reports of a troop train being fired upon at Edenbridge.  A rifle bullet was found in the woodwork of a carriage.  The police description of the suspect was circulated as someone ‘tall and dark with a sallow complexion and dark moustache’.  It is not clear what these reports meant but there has been some suggestion that these stories were a deliberate invention with the intention of keeping troops and Territorials on their toes.

Enlisting
Long lists of men who had enlisted were printed.  On 5 September 1914 the East Grinstead Observer reported an appeal from the vicar of East Grinstead for men to join up.  He expressed his hope that the rugby club would join up and cancel games as ‘this was no time for young able-bodied men to be playing or watching games’.  The scoutmaster for the 1st Lingfield and Dormansland troop. Captain Henry Lloyd Martin enlisted; he was later to be killed at the Battle of the Somme.  The scouts from Lingfield and Dormansland competed against the Oxted and Limpsfield scouts in a shooting match.  Several of the scouts taking part went on to enlist: assistant scountmaster Henry Cox became a gunner in the Royal Artillery; Arthur Potter and Albert Friend joined the Royal West Kent Regiment and George Skinner joined the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment.

Patriotism
Patriotic verses written by readers were published each week in the Surrey Mirror; these started off by being very jingoistic:
Still shall she rule the waves
Crushing usurping power…
but within weeks become much more sombre:
O God of our fathers hear our prayer
In this dark hour of strife…

National Loans meetings were held in Lingfield and Blindley Heath.  In Lingfield the meeting was chaired by Mr Gow of Batnor Hall; the Lingfield Band played patriotic airs and three cheers were given for ‘our soldiers in the trenches’.  At the Blindley Heath meeting the cry was ‘every man of military age and medically fit who has not joined the Colours must ask himself the question – why do I not enlist?’

Life goes on as Usual
On Saturday 1 August the annual church parade at Lingfield took place.  Taking part were the Fire Brigade, Friendly Societies with banners and sashes; the Lingfield and Dormansland Boy Scouts; the Copthorne Prize Band, the Dormansland Institute Band and Lingfield Band.  In September the Lingfield Harvest Festival went ahead as usual.  At Christmas Aladdin was playing at the Croydon Hippodrome.  Aladdin, played by Miss Lillie Lassae, encouraged the audience to help her with “Sister Susie’s Sewing Shirts for Soldiers” and “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary”.

In October, Lingfield Park Racecourse announced that the first autumn meeting would be held as usual.  It was felt that if it was stopped it would mean hardship for those employed.  Also if ‘the interest of owners is allowed to wane there would be serious blow to horse-breeding and the supply of animals to the army would be severely affected.  There should be no false sentiment about the propriety of holding the races’.  It was announced that all serving officers of army and navy were welcome to the course and enclosure free of charge.  Wives and daughters of members away serving in the forces would be allowed to use the member’s badge.

Food
There were official warnings against the hoarding of food but it seems that these appeals were generally ignored by the general public.  At the outbreak of war panic buying broke out and shops such as Sainsbury’s issued notices to the effect that its regular customers would be kept supplied.  The requisitioning of delivery horses by the army also affected distribution to Sainsbury’s branches and customers were asked to carry smaller parcels home themselves.

Demon Drink
By September it was recommended that due to the large numbers of troops billeted in East Grinstead the sale of intoxicating liquor was to be restricted.  The sale of alcohol was therefore suspended between 9pm and 9am.  The Government had grave concerns about the amount the public were drinking and was especially worried about the amount of beer munitions workers were drinking.  There followed new national regulations allowing the watering of beer.  This becomes known as ‘Government Ale’.  A line from a popular music hall song of the time went:
…But the worst thing that ever happened in this war
Is Lloyd George’s Beer.

The British Red Cross issued a warning to chauffeurs in charge of convalescent soldiers out for an airing in private motors who had been seen stopping off at public houses and treating the men to a drink.  It was requested that anyone seeing cases of this kind should report it to any Red Cross Convalescent Home in the neighbourhood.

Fuel
During the autumn and winter of 1914 supplies of fuel and light were curtailed, street lamps dimmed and no lines of light were permitted.

Events in Belgium
After the German invasion of Belgium many of the population were displaced.  By December the Surrey Mirror had started a weekly column in French for the benefit of the local influx of Belgian refugees.  Accommodation was offered in many places; locally The Colony (now Young Epilepsy) in St Piers Lane offered places for 36 refugees.

 

For information on the Lingfield and Dormansland covering the rest of the war years click the following links:

1915

1916

1917

1918

 

The Impact of WW1 on the Lingfield and Dormansland Area in 1915

Research and text contributed by the RH7 History Group

During the period of WW1 radio was in its infancy and newspapers were one of the main means of reporting news and also communicating official information and instructions.  Both the Surrey Mirror and The East Grinstead Observer continued to be published weekly during the war.  The main theatres of the war and national events were covered but from the point view of the impact of the war on the local area the two publications are a rich source of information.  Reports of events in the RH7 area are usually brief, however the ‘snippets’ which were found give an insight into the life ‘on the home front’.

 

Enlisting and Training
Lectures were held in Lingfield and Felbridge as to ‘why every available man is needed to defend his country’.  Lantern slides illustrated the lecture and the position of the armies was explained.  All the proceeds went to the Belgian Relief Fund.  Once a week Lingfield’s Volunteer Training Corps enthusiastically carried out training and shooting practice.  A Major training exercise was carried out at the end of May at Ford Manor attended by companies from Purley, Caterham, Oxted and Limpsfield, as well as Lingfield.  All in all about 500 men took part.

The Lingfield church organist, Mr C. Maude left in May to join the Royal Army Medical Corps

Patriotism
In July Mr Cobham gave an address on the National War Loan at a public open air meeting to a ‘large and appreciative audience’ numbering about 300.  Men, munitions and money were all dealt with in a rousing patriotic speech.  Once again the Lingfield Band played a selection of patriotic airs.  At the end Mr Cobham called for ‘three cheers for our men in the trenches’ to which there was a vigorous response.  Many patriotic concerts were held in Lingfield and Dormansland and proved to be very popular.  At a concert held in aid of the Women’s Emergency Committee at the Victoria Memorial Institute was so crowded that many people could not obtain seats.

More Spy Mania/Anti German Feeling?
In March the Surrey Mirror reported the case of Ludvig Paul Selbach, the tenant of Tower House, Godstone Road.  As he lived in London he offered the house as a hospital to the British Red Cross.  Mr Selbach was born in Germany, then lived in America but had never taken citizenship.  He had German documents and he appeared at London Police Court charged with being an alien.  His defence claimed he was of good character, had lived in England for 37 years and had donated £50 to The Prince of Wales Fund and that his failure to register was a lapse of judgement.  In spite of this he was given 6 months hard labour.  (History does not relate if the hospital was established; no evidence has come to light to suggest that it was).

Precautions during the War
In January, the public authorities were ordered to ensure that all lights other than those not visible from the outside of any house or navigational lights were extinguished between 5pm and 7.30am.  The Surrey Mirror commented ‘…the streets of our towns and villages have never presented a more gloomy and depressing appearance.’  The Christmas 1915 edition of the parish magazine reported that owing to the regulations in force for obscuring light in buildings at night, (presumably against Zeppelin attacks) it was necessary to darken the church windows in order that the evening services could be continued.  ‘The cost of doing this has been considerable’, the magazine records, ‘and material used amounts to £18 1s. 4d.  Many of the congregation have generously donated towards the expense but there is still a further sum required.’  At Baldwins Hill, owing to the great darkness at night caused by the new lighting orders, no extra Advent services were to be held.

Food and Drink
The duty was doubled on spirits.  With the need to reduce imports the Government greatly encouraged the home production of foodstuffs.  Farmers were given guaranteed prices for crops and exhorted to grow more wheat, potatoes and sugar beet.  However, with the enlistment of so many agricultural labourers there was a massive harvest shortage.  The biggest headache was the gathering in of the harvest.

Another worry for farmers was the danger from incendiary bombs in Zeppelin raids.  In July, the Surrey Mirror issued a warning a warning from the Central Chamber of Agriculture for the period from 20 July to the end of August when there is a considerable danger in Eastern and Southern counties from fields of corn being set on fire by incendiary bombs.  The advice given to farmers was not terribly helpful: they were advised to team up in pairs and keep watch in case of any outbreak of fire.  An advert in the Surrey Mirror described a ‘contrivance’ which would warn of a Zeppelin raid.  It was said to work on the basis of a reduction of gas pressure would automatically ring a bell (there were no reports of its use or effectiveness).

Apart from the shortage of labour, the East Sussex branch of the National Farmers Union were alarmed that the military authorities were proposing the commandeering of hay (presumably for the horses used by the army).  They claimed that all the hay in the county would be required for the farmers’ own stock and there was no surplus.  Both the Redhill Fat Stock Show and the Oxted Agricultural Show were abandoned.

Fuel
By early 1915, the coal shortage had taken hold.  As the price of coal rose steadily each month, local newspapers filled their pages with fuel-saving hints, ranging from the dismal to the positively dangerous.  The following appeared in a column entitled ‘Helpful Hints for Cooks and Mistresses’:

“For saving coal damp some waste paper and wrap some coal in it.  Put it to the back of the grate.  With a shovel full of slack on it and a few bits of good coal in front the sitting room fire will burn gently for many hours without replenishing.”

“…Put a shovel of slack, which has been held under the tap for a few seconds at the back of the grate.  Two or three such shovelfuls will keep the fire going for hours.”

“Coal dust from the cellar mixed with sawdust and slightly moisturised with paraffin, if rolled into lumps the size of oranges, can be used for banking and keeping in the fire.”

“Take a pound of resin, melt it and add two ounces of tallow.  Add sawdust to thicken and spread the mixture on a board which has already been well sprinkled with sawdust to prevent sticking.  Cover closely with fir cones and when dry remove from the board and break into small pieces for use.”

Local Gas Companies urged their customers to use more gas instead of solid fuel which was needed for munitions factories; besides which the greater use of gas was good for business!

Support for the Troops
The Surrey Mirror began a ‘Tobacco Fund’ to supply cigarettes and tobacco for soldiers and sailors at the Front.  This turned out to be extraordinarily successful.  By April an appeal was launched for comforts for wounded soldiers with the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) at Rouen.  A letter appeared in the Surrey Mirror from P.G. Martin with the 1st Battalion, the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment serving with the BEF in France.  He appealed to readers to send out mouth organs to the Front as ‘…on the march it cheers us up and makes things lively on the way to the trenches.’

The National Egg Collection for the Wounded started in 1915.  Initially its aim was to collect nationally 20,000 eggs per week for the wounded.  However, it became so successful that it achieved an average of one million eggs a month.  Ten thousand eggs  per day were shipped out to hospitals in France.  There were local depots for collecting the eggs which were sent to the central depot at Harrods where approximately 55,000 eggs came in every day.  The  eggs were packed in bags of sawdust and sent to French and English hospitals.  All broken eggs were sent to wounded soldiers in St George’s Hospital.

The local papers promoted this scheme, regularly giving updates.  The Surrey Mirror edition of 23 March 1915 reported on the enormous part children were playing in the work of collecting eggs.  The Lingfield school log book reports that ‘160 eggs collected by the children have been sent to Bermondsey Military Hospital’.  The Dormansland children brought eggs every week and in February after a special appeal 100 eggs were contributed.  By June the Surrey Mirror reported that 3,000 eggs has been collected in 12 weeks from people living in Merstham, Chaldon and Bletchingley.

The Lingfield Women’s Service League held a Red Cross street collection raising £16.  The league also formed a local branch of The Vegetable Products Association and sent fruit and vegetables to the Fleet every fortnight.  Eggs and flowers were sent weekly to hospitals.

To celebrate Empire Day on 31 May the children of Dormansland school brought pennies towards ‘our soldiers and sailors on active service’.  Later in the year 17s. 1was given to provide Christmas presents for the troops.

On 31 July the East Grinstead Observer reported that Church parade took place at Lingfield in aid of hospitals.  The procession was headed by the Lingfield and Dormansland boy scouts followed by the Lingfield Band in front of which walked Mr Konig accompanied by the vicar.  These were followed by the local lodge of Oddfellows, Dormansland Institute Band, and Fire Brigades from Lingfield, Dormansland, Godstone, Blindley Heath, Oxted and Edenbridge.

Appeals for the Public to help with the War Effort
In May, the War Office issued an appeal for respirators ‘against the asphyxiating gases being used by the enemy’.  The public were urged to make these up to the following instructions:
A face piece (to cover mouth and nostrils) formed of an oblong pad of bleached absorbent cotton wool about 5 1/4 inches x 3 inches covered with three layers of bleached cotton gauze and fitted with a band to fit round the head and keep the pad in position.
A piece of double stockinette 9 1/2 inches long by 3 1/2 inches wide in the centre, gradually diminishing in width to 2 1/2 inches at each end with a piece of thick plaited worsted about 5 inches long attached at each end, so as to form a loop to pass over the ear.
Respirators were to be sent in packages of not less that 100 to the Royal Army Clothing Department, Pimlico.  It is not recorded how effective these home-made gas masks were.

By June, the East Grinstead branch of the Women’s Suffrage Society proposed to start making sandbags for the trenches and appealed for volunteers to help.  By July 1915 the Government asked for volunteer recruits for the munitions industry.

Daily Life
In spite of the restrictions daily life carried on as best as it could.  The parish magazine reported on the first Parochial Sale of Work which by all events was successful.  As well as stalls there was a cake-weighing competition, a Baby Show (with a prize of 5 shillings) and a Gentlemen’s Hat Trimming competition.  The Cinema Royal at Redhill was showing recent war pictures from France, Russia and Italy as well as Keystone comics.  Because expeditions were not allowed the Lingfield Mothers Group were entertained by Mrs Stanger at her residence, Calemore.

The Lingfield Debating Society proved to be a popular weekly event.  Some of the themes discussed were: ‘How to Save the Empire’; How to Abolish Taxation; The Alarming Rise of Sobriety (this last theme sounds like a tongue-in-cheek reference to restrictions on the sale of alcohol).  In September, Lingfield shopkeepers agreed to reduce their opening hours by closing their establishments at 7pm each evening, except Saturdays when it would be 9pm.  The Lingfield Racecourse re-opened in November under much more restricted rules, having been closed since May.

For information on the Lingfield and Dormansland covering the rest of the war years click the following links:

1914

1916

1917

1918

The Impact of WW1 on the Lingfield and Dormansland Area in 1918

Research and text contributed by the RH7 History Group

During the period of WW1 radio was in its infancy and newspapers were one of the main means of reporting news and also communicating official information and instructions.  Both the Surrey Mirror and The East Grinstead Observer continued to be published weekly during the war.  The main theatres of the war and national events were covered but from the point view of the impact of the war on the local area the two publications are a rich source of information.  Reports of events in the RH7 area are usually brief, however the ‘snippets’ which were found give an insight into the life ‘on the home front’.

 

Trials of Daily Life
In February 1918 the Daily Mail bemoaned the fact that ‘servants of any kind are becoming unobtainable and therefore the daily task of the housewife are becoming more difficult.  They have to spend hours going from shop to shop, waiting their turn to be served and then not being able to obtain the food they required’.  Where, the paper asked, the National Kitchens that had been promised?  Labour shortages are a constant problem and women continue to take over from their menfolk.

Fuel
Fuel continued to be in short supply.  During the war years Lingfield Primary School experienced shortages of coal for its fires, whereby only two classrooms in the school heating.  By 16 January attendance at Lingfield was low as mothers were not sending their children to sit in cold classrooms and by 10 February so many children were suffering from colds that the school closed.  It remained for another week.

Illness
Lingfield School, which had been closed since 22 October due to an epidemic of influenza, re-opened on 13 November.  During this time the influenza had affected teachers and children alike.  Two boys died and one teacher was gravely ill.

Lingfield Mixed School Log Book (SHC ref 3361)

Food
By April, meat, butter, cheese and margarine were added to the list of rationed food.  The National Egg Collection scheme, providing eggs for the troops, has been so successful that there was now a national egg shortage at home.  Towards the end of the year, the Government allowed a special allotment of sugar for jam making to those who grew their own fruit.  In the Lingfield area alone there were 3,000 applications which had to be dealt with.  The East Grinstead Observer described this as an ‘arduous piece of work’.  Schoolchildren were recruited to pick blackberries for the jam industry and the Education Authority agreed to any holiday necessary for the children to do their part.  The children were given a half holiday in September 1918 that the older children went BlackBerrying on Dry Hill and Smithers farm.  The total return pick was 389lbs (half a tonne).

Some Light Relief
‘A Special Matinee Concert’ was advertised, to be held at the Whitehall Theatre, East Grinstead the September of 1918 in aide of the British Red Cross.  Many ‘celebrated London Artistes’ agreed to perform, including Mrs Lillie Langtry.

Troops – high morale for some
Private S.H. Turner of Newchapel wrote very cheerful letters.  ‘We have just finished giving Johnny Turk one of the greatest hidings he ever had.  We have been in action for three days…there is no danger at all compared to that in France; we are all as happy as sandboys’.  One suspects that this sentiment was not felt by many troops.

Help for the Troops
The East Grinstead Observer reported that by December the East Grinstead district contributed 121,127 eggs for the National Egg Collection Scheme since March 1915.  Nationally over seven million eggs had been sent to UK hospitals and over 25 million eggs to hospitals abroad,  The Lingfield Parish magazine reported that the village headed the list of all Surrey village, raising £167.5s. over the past 11 months for the Surrey Prisoners of War (POW) Fund. 1,000 parcels were sent every five days to POWs (mainly the Queen’s).

Example of a parcel:
1 tin corned beef            1/2lb cocoa        1 tin dripping          1 tin milk
20 cigarettes                  8oz soap              1 tin Irish Stew       1/2lb sugar
1 tin sardines                 1lb biscuits

The Armistice 11 November
In the Surrey Mirror of 15 November there was a muted report of the armistice which had taken place a few days before no banner headlines or pictures.  The paper continued to record the names of those killed in action.  The log for The Colony school simply recorded on 12 November gave a long report about a torchlight procession in Lingfield.  It was headed by the Fire Brigade and followed by the Boy Scouts.  After patriotic speeches the celebration ended with the burning of an effigy of that ‘Blighter Kaiser Bill’ ad three cheers for the King.  A torchlight procession also took place in Reigate.

‘All over by Christmas’ was the initial response to the war but after four years life for everyone had changed forever.

 

For information on the Lingfield and Dormansland covering the rest of the war years click the following links:

1914

1915

1916

1917

The Impact of WW1 on the Lingfield and Dormansland Area in 1917

Research and text contributed by the RH7 History Group

During the period of WW1 radio was in its infancy and newspapers were one of the main means of reporting news and also communicating official information and instructions.  Both the Surrey Mirror and The East Grinstead Observer continued to be published weekly during the war.  The main theatres of the war and national events were covered but from the point view of the impact of the war on the local area the two publications are a rich source of information.  Reports of events in the RH7 area are usually brief, however the ‘snippets’ which were found give an insight into the life ‘on the home front’.

 

Food
Food problems were now serious.  The Surrey War Agricultural Committee was set up in January 1917.  Examples of many of the proposals put forward by the committee being put into action were found in the local press.  People were urged not to panic and to cultivate vacant land.

Ploughing up pasture to grow potatoes and wheat meant less pasture for cattle (milk and meat).  ‘We must not deny our children milk’.  It was reported that ‘unless the price of feeding stuffs can be brought down it will be necessary to contemplate a large reduction in the live-stock of the county.  Home-produced fertilizer was produced – sulphate of ammonia mixed with basic slag.  There is a record in the Colony archives of this being ordered from Stanford’s in Lingfield.

Help was given in the purchase of seed potatoes.  In March, Crowhurst Parish Council reported that they had received a letter from the County Agricultural Committee asking what quantity of seed potatoes would be required by parishioners.  A guaranteed price for wheat was introduced.  The County War Agricultural Committee reported that to maintain food supplies more tractors must be used.  However farmers were very conservative and sceptical.  Demonstrators were arranged to show how much quicker ploughing would be if tractors were used and training was provided.  Local farmer Mr Young stated that he heard that ladies could drive tractors.  By March, 16hp Mogul tractors were being important from the USA but the purchase of new or second-hand tractors from this country was advocated to reduce the need for important machines.  However, the Chairman of the Agriculture Committee commented: ‘I understand that the Ford works in USA will be able to turn out tractors at £50…this will revolutionise agriculture…it will knock the English workers off their trade.’

With so many men away, many women started o work on the land.  A separate Women’s War Agriculture Committee was established to ‘get down to each parish’ to organise work for women.  It was decided that the best system was for women working on the land to work in gangs.  There should be a gang leader who would assemble the team and keep the time sheets.  The Home Defence Army was to help during the spring sowing season, also German prisoners, Interned Aliens and Conscientious Objectors.  To add to the difficulties there were reports of swine fever at Newchapel and potato disease at Baldwins Hill ‘which has wrought much havoc’.

Because of the sugar shortage those able to grow their own fruit were allowed sugar in order to preserve their crop.  The local papers printed weekly Hints for Allotment Holders to encourage people to grow their own fruit and vegetables.  Lingfield Drainage Committee received a request from Mr W. Watts to rent a piece of land at the sewage works.  This was agreed at a rent 10/- (50p).  The land had to be used for food production and subletting was not allowed.

The shooting season for pheasants was extended to 1 March.  Rabbits were to be ‘dealt with’ in February, March and April.  Appeals were made to local hunts to keep the numbers of foxes as low as possible.

In response to the massive amount of shipping lost to German U-Boats the Government authorised the organisation of a National Kitchen, where healthy and nourishing food was cooked and served to the masses now that most men had been called up to the Front and women had taken their places in the workforce.  Food shortages became a serious problem and initially food prices were fixed, eg the price of a quarter loaf was fixed at 9d; butchers were limited to 2 1/2d profit per pound.  Finally, the Government introduced food rationing, starting with sugar.  This was in place by the end of November.  The situation was not helped by adverse weather conditions – an abnormal, long and snow-bound winter; a belated and hurried ploughing season followed by a drought in May and then a wet and stormy August.

Patriotism
There were several War Aims Meetings in Surrey villages.  Their purpose was to explain the government war aims.  The Lingfield meeting was held on 26 November in the Victoria Institute.  An example of a resolution passed at these meetings: ‘This meeting heartily approves of the nation’s inflexible determination to continue the struggle until the evil forced which originated the conflict are destroyed and to maintain the ideals of liberty and justice which are the common and sacred cause of the allies.’

Troops
Throughout the year news of many deaths and injuries continue to be reported in the papers – too many to be listed here.  Apart from the dreaded bad news families must have been eager for any information.  The troops were restricted in what they could say and the other censor was very rigorous.  A set of postcards sent home by Stanley Jenner to his mother, and passed down to his daughter, are a good example of such correspondence.  Although there was no real news the letters must have been a comfort that as long as the cards kept coming, families knew that their loved one was still alive.

On 3 March the local paper reported on a military round up at the Racecourse: ‘On Saturday last the Military made a raid on the Lingfield racecourse at the conclusion of the day’s racing.’  Likely looking men were held up and requested to produce papers proving their exemption from military service.  A cinematograph operator who attempted to get a picture of the event had to be protected by the police and narrowly escaped a rough handling by some members of the crowd.  Five men were eventually taken.

Labour Shortage
A letter to the Surrey Mirror asking ‘what about the children of women who work?  Will the older children miss school to look after their younger brothers and sisters?  I call upon all women up to 60 for this work of national importance,  It is time to consider the citizens of the future.’

There were many reports of women taking over their husband’s work.  For example, in July the licence of the Royal Oak, Dormansland, was transferred from Albert Leigh (who was serving with the Colours) to his wife, Beatrice Annie Leigh.

Daily Life
In the midst of so much bad news the Observer reported on two weddings which took place in Ligfield church, on 27 October.  Frances Nita Fuller married Ernest William Frost.  He was a Canadian soldier and was on leave.  Nora Sybil Wallers married Percy William White, ‘one of our brave fellows who was wounded at Gallipoli and has now been discharged.’

Miss Norah Burton, chauffeur of Red Cottage, Station Road, Dormansland, was summoned for not drawing her bedroom blinds at night.  She wrote that she got into bed, leaving a candle burning by her bedside.  She was fined £1.

A Drama in Dormansland
‘On August Bank Holiday, Mr Winston Churchill, Minister of Munitions, and his wife left their residence, Lullenden, in their motor, proceeding to London.  On reaching The Crossway, the residence of Mr Davey Walker, another motorist approached from the blind turning and struck Mr Churchill’s car full broadside with such violent force that the vehicle was thrown on its side.  Mr and Mrs Churchill were badly shaken but as soon as they could obtain another car they resumed their journey.

For information on the Lingfield and Dormansland covering the rest of the war years click the following links:

1914

1915

1916

1918

Lingfield and Dormansland Scouts in the Great War

Research and text contributed by the RH7 History Groups

On 2 August 1914 the Sussex Association of Boy Scouts called for 1,000 Boy Scouts to guard the telegraph lines and culverts, to run messages between the police and military forces, and look out for spies, ‘a duty which their local knowledge and natural inquisitive makes them perfectly fit to render’.  So the Boy Scouts were mobilised as an active National Force, and were ordered to wear their uniform…

The Lingfield scouts were at Summer Camp at Rye Harbour when war broke out and the Troop offered their services to the Chief Constable of Sussex for patrolling watch duties and signalling before a hurried return home after they were relieved by the 25th City of London Cyclists Regiment.  Writing in 1939, one of the scouts, Jim Huggett, recalled standing on the quay at Rye Harbour “waiting for a spy to pop up”.  He pondered whether it would be more effective to hit him with a scout pole or poke him in the stomach.  Fortunately he wasn’t called upon to make a decision. Jim Huggett enlisted in the Army Service Corps in 1915 and was awarded the Military Medal.  He eventually took over the troop after the war.

Once home Lingfield scouts were enlisted to guard the Railway Viaduct over Crooks Pond at Dormans Park night and day.  Writing in 1935 Arthur Potter remember being on watch by himself at the Viaduct in the early hours and being scared by a rustling in the bracken when a large rat popped out and ran across the road.  He was more than glad when his two hour shift ended.  After being relieved by the National Guard the scouts were then sent to guard the Dry Hill Reservoirs during the day – the night duty being undertaken by the Ford Manor employers and the East Surrey Water Company.

In November 1914 the scouts from Lingfield and Dormansland competed against the Oxted and Limpsfield scouts in shooting match.  Several of the scouts taking part went on to enlist: assistant scoutmaster Harry Cox went on to be a gunner in the Royal Artillery and became a prisoner of war; Arthur Potter and Albert Friend joined the Royal West Kent Regiment and George Skinner joined the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment.

By 18 December 1914, 19 Lingfield scouts (past and present) had joined up.  By the end of the war, the majority of senior scouts had joined the Allied forces; most scouts had joined the Army and six had joined the Navy: Fred Baker, Nelson Cox, Fred and Hugh Vincent.  Later in 1914 several more of the boys joined up, including four lads who, after being refused at Lingfield for being underage, went to Edenbridge where they were not known and enlisted in the Royal West Kent Regiment.  All of the boys were 17 but said they were 19. It is fairly certain that three of the boys were Ernest Faulkner, Albert Friend and Norman Funnell.  The name of the fourth boy as not yet been discovered.

The scoutmaster for the 1st Lingfield and Dormansland troop.  Captain Henry Lloyd Martin was later to be killed at the Battle of the Somme on 28 September 1916.  Talking to the boys before he left for the Front he told them “it will be after the war, when our moral strength and courage will be needed”.  On 29 July 1915, before sailing for Bolougne, he wrote a poignant letter to the scouts to be read out in the event of his death.  He appears to have been held in high esteem by the boys.

Ernest Faulkner, one of the boys who enlisted when he was underage, transferred to the Machine Gun Corps and was discharged in 1917 with severe shell shock, suffering from headaches, sleeplessness, tremor and fear of noise.  He was just 19 years old.

Two brothers, Ernest and Jack Caush enlisted on the same day, 10 November 1914, at Guildford in the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment along with five others from Dormansland. Jack was only 17 but said he was 19.  Both boys were to died on the Somme aged 20 and 17 respectively.

Another scout, Edward Bysh, of 6 Ormuz Cottages, Newchapel Road, Lingfield, travelled to Guildford and enlisted in the 7th Battalion, Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment on 25 August 1914 along with five other local young men (Alick Stoner, Frank Woolgar, Frederick Longley, Victor Galloway and Victor’s brother Charles, who was only 15 but gave his age as 19).

Alick Stoner of Dormansland and Edward Bysh were both killed on the same day at the Somme on 18 November 1916.  Both are buried at Stump Road cemetery, near Albert in France. Edward and Frank Woolgar may have known each other as they have consecutive service numbers.  Frank had been working at Ford Manor, but was working at Goodwood when he volunteered.  Frank was killed on 8 May 1916, aged 26.  Victor Galloway died on the third day of the battle of the Somme, 3 July 1916, aged 20.  Frederick Longley of Goldhards Farm, Newchaple, survived the war.

On 14 April 1917, the East Grinstead Observer reported: “Mrs Bysh of Ormuz Cottages, Newchapel Road, has learned that her son Edward who was serving in the [Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment] was killed as long ago as November 16 in last year.  James Martin, [Honourable Secretary], Lingfield Recruiting at the Mutual Help Committee writes to Mrs Bysh: May I personally add how deeply I sympathise with you…My dear son and he were greatly attached.  They were both not only fellow Scouts but they arrived afterwards in the same battalion in which they both lost their lives”. James Martin’s son, Henry Lloyd Martin, was the scoutmaster of the 1st Lingfield and Dormansland Scouts, of which Edward Bysh was a member.

In early Spring of 1915 Lingfield Scouts went on camp to Pett Level on the south coast to help the Coastguards and Coast Watchers looking for enemy aircraft and submarines.  They were there for three months before many more left the troop to join up.

Out of over 60 scouts who joined up some were not to return:
Jack Caush – missing September 1915, aged 17
Henry Lloyd Martin, Scoutmaster – killed 28 September 1916, Somme, aged 36
Ernest Caush – killed October 1916, Somme, aged  21
Edward Bysh – killed 18 November 1916, Somme aged 20
Fred Faulkner – died of sickness whilst on active service, July 1918, aged 19

 

Sources:

Ian Blackford, 1st Lingfield and Dormansland Scouts

Boy Scouts Newsletters, Our Vinculum dated 1935 and 1939

Surrey Mirror archives

East Grinstead  Observer archives

Edward Heron-Allen’s Journal of the Great War

Dorothy Oakley

Research and text contributed by the RH7 History Group

Dorothy Oakley is the only woman [so far] found in [the RH7] villages who [is known] to have done war work, in her case, nursing. There are possibly others but unfortunately women’s records in many cases were not kept or were later subjected to a ‘sweeping clear out’ such as that in the 1930s.

She was born in Kensington in 1871. Her father was a Land Agent. In 1911 she was living by ‘private means’ in Glebe Cottage, Vicarage Road, Lingfield. She was unmarried.

In 1914 she became a member of the Lingfield Emergency Committee and the Chairman of the Hospital and Convalescence Sub-Committee. In January 1915 she announced her resignation as she was about to leave to nurse in Serbia as a VAD. When the Emergency Committee was wound down in 1919 there was acknowledgement of Dorothy’s war service in the Balkans.

In 1958 she lived at The Laurels, Dormansland, and died in The Larches Nursing Home, East Grinstead. She is buried in the Lower Churchyard of the parish church of St Peter and St Paul.

 

Brothers in Arms

Courtesy of the RH7 History Group, as part of their First World War exhibitions from 2014-2018

Written by Janet Bateson and Sue Quelch

Men who worked together frequently enlisted together in Kitchen’s Army.  Brothers and cousins, old school friends, and neighbours in the same high street found the journey to the recruiting centre was exciting when they had their Pals without them.  There are several examples in the Lingfield area.  A sad fact of war is that some families lost their entire male household, many lost their main breadwinner.

Seven young men from Dormansland set off in the early morning of 10 November 1914 to take a train from South Godstone to Guildford to enlist in the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment {QRWS) for the duration of the war.  They must have stood in line in a queue as their service numbers are consecutive:

No. 3490 Raymond Everest, age 19 years 5 months
3491 Frederick Henry Allen, age 19 years 6 months
3492 Edwin John Simmons, age 19 years 8 months
3493 Rochford James Whitehurst, age 19 years  9 months
3494 Walter Diplock, age 19 years 6 months
3495 Ernest Edward Caush gave his age as 20 to help his brother’s enlistment, actual age 19 years 6 months
3496 John Alfred Caush (Jack), brother of Ernest, gave his age as 19 years 6 months – actual age 17 years 5 months

They were close friends from school days.  They possibly worked on the Ford Manor estate, all were gardeners or farm labourers.  Frederick Allen and the Caush brothers were Boy Scouts.  Four of the friends were killed, two on the same day.  Of the three who survived one received a gunshot wound to the chest.

Raymond Everest was killed on 25 September 1915, the first day of the Battle of Loos.
Frederick Allen served in France, was transferred from [QRWS] to the 29th [Battalion], Middlesex Regiment, [and transferred[ again to the Labour Corps after his recovery from a gunshot wound to his chest.  In 1919 he received a pension for 20% disablement, 5/6d. per week, conditional to be reviewed in 39 weeks.
Edwin Simmons was killed on 21 August 1916 in the Battle of the Somme.
Rochford Whitehurst served in France, was promoted to Lance Corporal and transferred to the Gloucestershire Regiment.  He survived the war.
Walter Diplock served in France, was transferred to the Labour Corps.  He survived the war.
Ernest Caush was killed on 13 August 1916 in the Battle of the Somme.
John (Jack) Caush was killed on 25 September 1915, the first day of the Battle of Loos (the same day as his friend Raymond Everest).  He has no known grave; his name is inscribed on the Loos Memorial.

A Family’s Grief

Contributed by Brian Gudgeon

In Sidlow, near Reigate, and there is a grave stone featuring a very moving epitaph of a family’s loss during the Great War. Not only did they lose a young son but also two more who died fighting in France.

Can you imagine the pain of losing three sons in the space of 11 months? The last two within four weeks of each other. What must they have gone through? As if that wasn’t enough, the 1911 census says they had five children and two had already died, meaning that by the end of the war the parents had lost all of their children.

The gravestone reads: The sons of John and Louisa Huggett – Thomas Noah Huggett who died May 6, 1917 in his 12th year. Also of Harry Huggett killed in action somewhere in France, June 14, 1916, aged 20 years. Also of John Huggett killed in action somewhere in France, April 9, 1917, aged 27 years.

Research of the miniature records reveals that Harry was a private in the 2nd Battalion, Grenadier Guards, and is buried at the White House Cemetery, St Jean-Les-Ypres.  He was the husband of Louisa Huggett of Dovers Green, Reigate.

John was a Private in the 8th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment), and is buried in Faubourg D’Amiens Cemetery, Arras.

Their father, John, was 45 years old in 1911, and was a blacksmith, living at Dovers Green, Reigate. He was born in East Grinstead in 1866 and married Louisa Blunden, five years his senior, in 1886. Despite their horrific family losses, they survived; John died in 1947 at the age of 82, and Louisa in 1948 aged 87. The two other children that died have not been identified as there are no other names in the 1891 and 1901 censuses. The missing two must have been born and died between the marriage in 1886 and the 1891 census or between 1891 and 1901, and/or between 1901 and 1911.