Frederick James Martin

Family story contributed by Linda Davies

Frederick James Martin was born on the 12 of July 1881 in the beautiful and hilly village of Coldharbour, near Dorking, Surrey.  He grew up there, attended school and began his work life as a gardener’s assistant. He was the oldest son of James and Edith (nee Etheridge) Martin and had four brothers and one sister. He was named after his grandfather and father, James and his great-grandfather, Frederick. Gardening was the family trade and Frederick worked as a gardener at Broome Hall, Coldharbour. Sometime after 1901, he moved to Lindfield, Sussex. He met Jeanie Farquharson, a Scottish girl from Ballanter, Aberdeenshire. They married at St. Matthews Church, Redhill, Surrey on 10 April 1907. Their son, Harvey James Martin was born 6 March 1908 at Snowflakes, Walstead, Lindfield, Sussex and his father was working as a gardener. They were still there in 1911, living in the Walstead Cottages. Frederick was 33 when World War One started and most likely did not need to sign up, but chose to do so. Frederick enlisted as a private in the Royal Sussex Regiment (3019) and later was in the 8th Battalion, The Queen’s Own (Royal West Kent) Regiment where his regimental number was G/7345. His brother, Herbert John Martin was in the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment. While Frederick was away, his wife and son moved to Brancaster House, Brancaster, King’s Lynn, Norfolk.  He died on 4 August 1918 at age 37. He was awarded the Victory Medal and Star. Frederick is buried in the Cambrai East Military Cemetery France (Grave reference VII.A.8.) and is memorialized on the Coldharbour WW1 Memorial. Two of his cousins, Horace John Longhurst and William Sidney Longhurst, sons of Frederick’s aunt, Amelia Martin Longhurst, are remembered on the same memorial in Coldharbour.

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

Arthur Henry Dare

Research and text by Gary Simmons (grandson)

Arthur Henry Dare was born 8 September 1892.

Enlisted:  August 1914

Service number:  G37068

Regiment:  Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment.

11th (Service) Battalion, 41st Division, 123rd Infantry Brigade.

 

The following is a copy of Arthur’s hand-written pencil notes made during his time in the Great War.

 

Left Blight on September 8th 1917.

Joined 11th Battalion Queens, September 19th 1917.

Ypres   September 20th. Stretcher bearing

Returned to Miemac Camp1 September 23rd. Entrained to Hasle Brook2 & left there by motor to Uxham3 then to Rossendale4 & into the line. Yorkshire Camp5, Coxhide6, Neuport7. Quiet except for a few whizz bangs. Shelled at S. Corner8, no one hit. Marched to La Panne. Remained there till marched to Uxham3 on Sunday November 11th.

Entrained for Italy November 14th. Lovely journey Nice, Cannes, Monte Carlo disentrained on November 20th. Started march on 22nd finished on 29th. Slept in a church under shell fire relived Italians on 30th November near Nevesa9. Post on island.

Relived on the 8th December 1917 returned to fire support   X10 on 16th. Front line Xmas Eve

X Sent Killing Ingram11

(Received two Pels12) Plenty of snow. Whizz banged on open road (very nice)

Relived on January 3rd 1918 by R.F. (32nd Royal Fuailiers)

4 men wounded about December 28th.

Bells rung the Old year out & New in. Over in Jerrys line. St Andrea13

January 11th 2 days Nevesa9

2 days shelled at 2 in the morning.

Trench digging in the day good billet.  Photos saw of children. Relived on 16th by H.A.C 2nd Battalion band from _____   Riesie14.  then in support of French in the mountains. Behind Mount Grappea15.  Left for 137 F.A. Falzie16. return to Battalion then marched to Antivole17 Sports. Brought wrap of cover. Marched through Monte B18 to relive 23rd Division on February 16th. Relived in support by 23th Division on February 24th, marched away to Riesie14 and then to Padova19 (Italy). Entrained here on March 1st 1918 for France (Got drunk 30th April) special) Dulons20 March 6. Inernary 21 till March 21st entrained at Montacan22 to Ashby Le Grand 23. Proceeded to line Dig in artillery.

Vic stand to then front line to relieve Chestines. R.W.F. 24 March 22nd dig in.  March 23rd surrounded and Captured about 6 o’ clock. Carried wounded about 7 or 8 kilometres. Work all night. Sunday 24th, march nearly all day to small camp nothing to eat. Slept in stable next day piece of Bread and some Horseflesh soup. (went down good) arrived Denain25 Monday25th, Entrained on 26 for Munster II. Good Friday 29th. First PC with add, sent on April 1st.

Left Munster II April 18th for Wallrope26   Munster III

Started work on Coke on 19th.

May 5th Day off (Chatts27)

May 6th started work in Mine

July 16th Frenchman Died. 1st _ _ _ 2028

July 20th Prisoners 20 arr ill

July 21st 2 Photos sent also July 14th.

July21st   Frenchman Died 2nd Buried July 24th

Nov 9th 1918 Republic

Nov 24 Left Wallrope26 for Munster III

Dec 1st Rotterdam

Dec 4th Landed at Hull

 

 

 

 

Legend.

Micmac. Canadian camp located
Hazebrouck
Uxem
Rosendale, near sand dunes.
Yorkshire camp listed as Oost-Dunkerle.
Coxyde.
Nieport.
S. Corner?
Nervesa.
X?
X?
Pels?
St. Andrea. (Battalion War Diary)
Riese
Monte Grappa.
Falzie?
Altivole
Monte B?
Padova.  (Battalion War Diary)
Doullens.
Ivergny.
Mondicourt. (Battalion War Diary)
Achiet-Le-Grand (Battalion War Diary)
Possible; Cheshires, Royal Welsh Fusiliers.
Dulmen
Wallrope?
Body lice commonly know to the British soldier as Chatts, which may be derived from chattel. Almost every man who served in the Great War had lice as a constant companion.
1 to 20.
Endnotes.

Battalion War Diaries.
History of the Queen’s Royal (West Surrey) Regiment in the Great War. Colonel H. C. Wylly, C.B. Chapter XXV page 267.
The British Army in Italy 1917-1918, John Wilks & Eileen Wilks. Chapter 3 page 50, Chapter 4 pages 55,56,61,66.
Battle Ground Europe Touring the Italian Front 1917-1919, Francis Mackay. Pages 16,74,86.
Map of the Main Prison Camps in Germany & Austria, Mrs. Pope-Hennessy. Map & Page 9.
International Committee of the Red Cross, Attestation confirmation of capture & POW camp.
Note, Items shown under Legend heading still in red are unconfirmed to date.

 

Conscription and Exemption in Lingfield and Dormansland

Research and text courtesy of the RH7 History Group

With the continuing, and rising, demand for men to join the Army, conscription was introduced in 1916, initially for single men and later for married men. Men who were due to be called up for military service were able to appeal against their conscription: they or their employers could appeal to a local Military Service tribunal in their town or district. These appeals could be made on the grounds of work of national importance, business or domestic hardship, medical unfitness or conscientious objection. A very large number of men appealed: by the end of June 1916, 748,587 men had appealed to tribunals.

A socialist Conscientious Objector: an early Lingfield case was reported on 20 May 1916 under this heading.
” An application was made by Lionel Bertram Temple (26), an insurance agent who lives in Old Town Lingfield. He based his objection on religious and moral grounds, and also stated he suffered in health.”

Replying to questions he said he cold not assist in either combatant or non-combatant services. He belonged to the World Order of Socialists. He took the pledge of the “World Fraternity” when he joined three years ago. A member of the Tribunal: “The German Socialists don’t adhere to the pledge”. The Tribunal refused exemption, ordering the applicant for non-combatant service.

An interesting case, to modern eyes, was reported on 18 November. Mr W.A. Fisher, the postmaster, appealed for his clerk, A.J. terry. The local Tribunal asked whether a woman could take on the work. The postmaster said that Christmas time being near the pressures of work made it essential he should have a trained man. The exemption was granted until 31 December. We do not know whether the key word was ‘trained’ or ‘man’ – anyway the Tribunal accepted the case.

The impact of the loss of men of working age began to be reflected in the nature of the applications made to Tribunal:
William Miram, butcher, High Street, Lingfield, applied for Albert Boorer (37) slaughterman. He stated there was no other slaughterman in the neighbourhood. Exemption was granted until 11 August. In many cases the Tribunal simply put off the date at which the individual would have to join the forces. Albert Boorer eventually joined the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment and went to France in 1917. Albert returned to Lingfield after the war and managed his own butcher’s shop in the High Street.

Another Boorer, William Edward (aged 32) applied in May 1916 for exemption on the grounds 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 evidently survived as after the war William and his brother Fred were partners in an ironmongers business on the site of the present Lingfield Garage.

Albert Stanford, building contractor, applied as he had two contracts to finish. His son aged 18 had join the Forces. He usually employed 15, 16 or 20 men but now had only six.

On 20 May 1916 there was a report of an application for exemption from Mrs Avice Skinner, High Street, Dormansland on behalf of Frank Skinner (37) and Gordon Mayo (30) shoeing and general smiths. It was stated that they were now turning out 100 [horse]shoes a week under an Army contract as well as doing repair work for farmers. They had four men but now only one other besides Mayo and Skinner. Exemption was granted.

Against this background of mass conscription and exemptions, there was public concern about those who, rightly or wrongly, were perceived as evading war service. The following report of a military round up at the Racecourse on 3 March 1917 reflects this.

‘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 to Oxted police station.’

 

Sources:

East Grinstead Observer archives

Alfred Mahon and HMS Bulwark

Research and text courtesy of The RH7 History Group

Alfred Mahon was born in 1883 in Chelsea, London. In 1911 his father, also called Alfred, was living in Ivy House, The Platt, Dormansland. Alfred (junior) joined the Royal Marines in 1901 at the age of 15 and then re-enlisted in 1904.  He was in the Royal Marines Band.  During 1914 he saw service in the North Sea and along the Belgian coast.  At sea, bandsmen worked in the Transmitting Stations, i.e. the control systems of the ship’s gunnery.  [The details on Alfred’s service record list his trade and service as ‘Musician’.]  The apparatus was in the bowels of the ship, escape was very difficult and casualty numbers were high.  Alfred, however, did not die from enemy action but was a victim of [an explosion].

Winston Churchill spoke in the [House of Commons] on 26 November 1914: ‘ I regret to say I have some bad news…the Bulwark battleship which was lying in Sheerness this morning blew up at 7.35 o’clock’.

A serving sailor at the outbreak of war he was posted to the HMS Bulwark.  He did valuable service in the North Sea and was engaged in the bombardment of enemy positions on the Belgian coats.  He lost his life when the Bulwark was blown up and sank off Sheerness on 26 November 1914, and was entitled to the 1914-15 Star, the General and Victory medals.  These medals were sent to his widow.  His body was not recovered for burial.

The Bulwark was moored in Kethole Reach on the Medway almost opposite Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey.  Most of her crew had been on leave and had returned at about 7am so there was a full complement in board.  Everything was normal, everyone going about their usual duties; some were having breakfast.  Alfred was on deck with the band, which was practising.  Observers later reported that suddenly there was a roar, a rumble, a massive sheet of flame.  The ship rose out of the water and sank back, and it was engulfed in a huge thick cloud of smoke; there were further explosions and when all had cleared the Bulwark had disappeared. Only 14 men survived, and two later died. Boats were sent out from the other ships, including the Formidable with Frederick Gaunt of Vicarage Road, Lingfield, on board.  Just over a month later, Frederick would also lose his life when the Formidable was torpedoed in the Channel on 1 January 1915.

Windlesham schoolmaster who died at Jutland

Frank Vincent Wise served in the Royal Naval Reserve and was killed on 31st May 1916, when his ship, the H.M.S. Invincible was sunk at the Battle of Jutland. The story of his naval service is told in the following entry by Brian O’Connell:

https://www.surreyinthegreatwar.org.uk/story/signalman-frank-vincent-wise/

The only child of James Augustus and Katherine Wise, Frank’s parents moved from Henley, where they married, to Virginia Water in Surrey. It appears from census records that James was employed as an under-butler in the household of Constance de Morella and lived in her home whilst his family lived in 4 Christchurch Cottage, Virginia Water. James died in 1912, aged 50.

At the time of the 1911 census, Frank was attending Teacher Training College in London and was living at 26 Kitto Road, St Paul’s, Deptford. In 1915, when he joined up on 20th August, he was living with his mother, Katherine, at Glenisla, Updown Hill and his occupation was schoolmaster. He was described in the records as having brown hair, grey eyes and a fresh complexion. Pertinent perhaps for his service, the form noted that he ‘can swim’.

Writing in the Windlesham Roll of Honour, the Rev A.J. Hutton says of him:

‘Frank V. Wise was assistant Master at Windlesham Council School when war broke out. In August 1915, he joined the Royal Naval Defence and went into training at the Chrystal (sic) Palace where he specialized in signalling. 

On finishing his training, he was posted to H.M.S. Lion but was shortly afterwards transferred to H.M.S. Invincible where he combined the duties of Signaller with those of Teacher. He succeeded so well as a Teacher that he was to have been appointed to a Nautical School at Plymouth in July 1916; But on May 31st 1916 he went down with his ship the Invincible in the Battle of Jutland.’ 

The suggestion about his potential transfer is confirmed in his naval records:

held rating of signalman at time of death; question of transfer to schoolmaster to take effect on 15th July- under consideration’.

The records suggest he served on H.M.S. Pembroke rather that H.M.S. Lion.

In 1913 and 1915, Kelly’s Directory confirms Mrs Wise living in Glenisla, Pine Grove, Updown Hill, Windlesham; however there is no entry for her from 1918 onwards suggesting she may have moved away around the time of Frank’s death. CWGC report her address as Birkrigg, Chesterfield Road, Ashford, Middlesex.

Bibliography

Hutton A.J., date unknown, Windlesham Roll of Honour SHC Ref: Z_682_1 50A

Kelly’s Directory 1913, 1915, 1918, 1919

National Archive ADM 337/38/91 & ADM 339/1/42226

The Knight Family

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

Written by Janet Bateson and Sue Quelch

Sergeant William Knight was born in Altar Cottages Crowhurst in 1888.  William was the third child, second son, of William and Mary Jane Knight.  In 1906, when he was aged 18, William enlisted as a Regular soldier in the 2nd Battalion, Highland Light Infantry (H.L.I.) at a recruiting office in East Grinstead.

On 9 August 1914 the Battalion was inspected by […] the King and Queen.  Early on 13 August they left Aldershot and embarked the same day at Southampton, part of the British Expeditionary Force,  They landed at Boulogne on 14 August.  The battalion was engaged in various actions on the Western Front: the Battle of Mons and the subsequent retreat, the Battle of the Marne and the Battle of the Aisne, where Sergeant Knight was killed.

William Knight was [Lingfield’s] first local casualty; he was killed in action at Veneuil on 20 September 1914, aged 27.  He has no known grave, but his name is engraved on the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres.  William’s younger brother, Private Alfred Charles Knight, enlisted in 10th Battalion, the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment.  He died on 6 August 1917, aged 23 in the Third Battle of Ypres (today, generally known as Passchendaele).  He has no known grave; his name is engraved on the Menin Gate Memorial (Ypres).  The battle was launched on 31 July and continued until the fall of the village of Passchendaele on 6 November.

William and Alfred’s cousin, Fred Knight, survived the war.  He lived at 20 Saxbys Lane, Lingfield.  Fred enlisted in the Army Service Corps (ASC), the unit responsible for keeping the British Army supplied with provisions; it did not receive the Royal prefix until late 1918).  Corporal Fred Knight survived the war and remained with the ASC until 1921.  His last posting was in Norwich where he met a local girl.  They married and made their family home in Norwich.  Fred died in March 1967.

The Warriner Brothers

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

Written by Janet Bateson and Sue Quelch

Albert and George Warriner were the sons of Emily and Charles Warriner of Old Town, Lingfield.

Sergeant Albert Warriner a married man living at Blindley Heath, enlisted in the 9th Battalion, the Royal Sussex Regiment on 12 September 1914.  He died of wounds at Baileul on 17 June 1916.  He was 35.  The local paper reported that he had been gassed and severely wounded by shrapnel.  It appears that he was greatly respected by his men and his local community.

George Warriner lived at home with his widowed mother in Old Town.  He served in the Royal Navy as a Stoker 1st Class on HMS Lancaster.  This ship was part of the 4th Cruiser Squadron initially protecting convoys in the West Indies before she was sent to join up with the Grand Fleet at Scapa Flow, in 1915.  Just before the Battle of Jutland, the Lancaster was transferred to the Pacific Ocean in April 1916, patrolling North and South America and the Falklands until 1919.  It would appear that the ship was badly hit by the Spanish ‘Flu epidemic in December 1918, when up to 300 men on board fell ill out of a ship’s complement of 680.  As well as the usual medals awarded to servicemen who served in the war, George was also issued with the Silver War Medal which was issued to men discharged due to sickness or injuries sustained in the conflict.  It is quite possible that George was on of the men affected by the influenza outbreak, although [there is] no record of this.  Unlike his older brother, George survived the war, returning to Lingfield in 1919.

 

The Joseph Brothers

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

Written by Janet Bateson and Sue Quelch

The Joseph Brothers were the three sons of the Pastor of Dormansland Baptist Church, and lived at The Manse, Clinton Hill.  All three were killed on the Western Front.

Private Sidney Herbert Joseph enlisted in 8th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment on 12 September 1915.  He was killed in action on 5 May 1917, aged 28.  He has no known grave; his name is inscribed on the Arras Memorial.

Lance Corporal Albert Edward Joseph enlisted in the 9th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment at East Grinstead.  He was killed in action on 27 March 1918. He had no known grave but his name is inscribed on the Pozieres Memorial.  The Pozieres Memorial relates to the period of crisis in March and April 1918 when the Allied Fifth Army was driven back by overwhelming numbers across the former Somme battlefields before the Advance to Victory, which began on 8 August 1918.

Private Archibald Joseph also enlisted with the 9th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment at East Grinstead.  He died of wounds on 17 June 1916, aged 21, and is buried in Bailleul Community Cemetery Extension.

The Coomber Brothers

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

Written by Janet Bateson and Sue Quelch

Herbert, Richard Charles and Robert Sargent Coomber were the three youngest sons of 14 children of Edmund and Fanny Coomber.  Edmund and Fanny had seven daughters and seven sons.  In 1901 they owned Cernes Farm, Robert was a cowman on the farm.  The three youngest brothers were baptised on the same day at St John’s Church, Dormansland.  They all enlisted as regular soldiers and left England with the British Expeditionary Force in 1914.  They were all killed on the Western Front.

Private Henry Coomber enlisted as a Regular soldier in 1st Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment).  He died of wounds on 7 September 1917, age 38, and was buried in Bethune Town Cemetery.

Corporal Robert Sargent Coomber enlisted as a Regular soldier in 2nd Battalion, the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment) at Tonbridge in 1908.  He left England with the British Expeditionary Force on 4 October.  He was killed in action on 31 October 1914, aged 26.  He has no known grave; his name is inscribed on the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres.  Dormansland village memorial incorrectly records his rank as ‘Sergeant’, probably in error as his second forename was Sargent.

Private Richard Charles Coomber enlisted as a Regular soldier in the 1st Battalion, the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment in East Grinstead.  He too left England with the British Expeditionary Force on 4 October.  He died from wounds on 27 October 1914, aged 21, four days before the death of his brother Richard.  Richard is buried in Ypres Town Cemetery Extension.