Henry George Bundy

My grandfather Henry George Bundy and his brother William John Bundy were born to John Frederick Bundy and his wife Sarah. John was a coalman’s carman and Sarah was a housewife. John had died by the time of the 1911 Census, leaving Sarah a widow. In the 1911 census Henry (born 1890) is listed as a engine cleaner, and William (born 1887) as a labourer.

I have not many records on my Grand-uncle William, but I do on my Grandfather Henry. He was conscripted on the 26 June 1916, joining the 11th Battalion of the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment on 16 January 1917. His brother William was in the same battalion. Four days later on the 20 January 1917, William was killed, near Ypres.

The story in the family is that William died for a cup of tea. He told my grandfather Henry that he  wanted a cup of tea from the canteen down the trench. Henry warned him to duck down at a corner of the trench, as there was a German sniper targeting it. He forgot and was shot in the neck by the sniper.

My grandfather remained in the battalion until 7 June 1917, the first day of the Battle of Messines (when the German front line was destroyed by nineteen giant underground mines). He was shot in the right hand.

Messines Map small

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Henry ended up being shipped home to England on the 10 June 1917 in the Belgium troopship HS Pieter de Coninck. He was treated at a Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) hospital at Hoylake, Cheshire. Either The Châlet, Hoylake or the annexe, New Bunnee, Hoylake. The Chalet still stands today.


The Chalet Hoylake

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He was sent to EC Shoreham camp for convalescing (including massage) and retraining to return to the front lines, 27 August to 7 December 1917.

After that, reclassified as British Army Medical Category B2, on 1 April 1918 Henry was transferred to the Labour Corps, joining the 694 Agricultural Company which was based in Guildford. It had been set up to help with the 1918 harvest, after the disastrous harvest of 1917. There he worked as a farm labourer (which was what he was doing just before he was called up).

Between 6 November 1918 and 26 November 1918, Henry was sent to Kingston military hospital with the dreaded Spanish Flu, which killed more people than the war itself. He was lucky: despite coming in with a temperature of 102 degrees, he recovered.

On 8 March 1919, Henry was posted to Royal Army Service Corps, 425 Company. This was formed in May 1915 as a First Army Auxiliary Horse Transport Company. This was a unit responsible for miscellaneous transport services, under command of an Army or other formation HQ in the field. On the 12 August 1919, he was posted to the Mechanical Transport Depot at Shortlands, Kent.

On the 20 December, Henry was demobbed to Class Z Reserve. The Class Z Reserve was a Reserve contingent of the British Army consisting of previously-enlisted soldiers, now discharged. The Z Reserve was authorised by an Army Order of 3 December 1918. When expected problems with violations of the Armistice with Germany did not happen, the Z Reserve was abolished on 31 March 1920.

Henry was awarded a gratuity on the 20 April 1920 of £65 (worth £2,881 now). This was for his damaged hand.

My family have long owned a book called The Story of Seventy Momentous Years: the Life and Times of King George V 1865-1936 (ed. H. Wheeler, Odhams Press, 1936). On page 98 is a picture of my grandfather standing in a captured German trench (see image above).

He is the man in the centre holding a rifle. The man on the left, pointing to the sign, was killed three days after this picture was taken.

After the war, Henry became a driver for Guildford Council at the pumping station in Ladymead. He died in 1953. Here he is with my mother at her wedding in 1947.

Grandad and Mum small

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His brother William has been incorrectly named twice: once as W. Bendy on the local parish memorial, and as Bunday (right service number, of course) in the Book of Remembrance at The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment War Memorial in Holy Trinity Church, Guildford.


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.


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/

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



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






Micmac. Canadian camp located
Rosendale, near sand dunes.
Yorkshire camp listed as Oost-Dunkerle.
S. Corner?
St. Andrea. (Battalion War Diary)
Monte Grappa.
Monte B?
Padova.  (Battalion War Diary)
Mondicourt. (Battalion War Diary)
Achiet-Le-Grand (Battalion War Diary)
Possible; Cheshires, Royal Welsh Fusiliers.
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.

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.


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.

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.

George Penfold

Family story contributed by Henry Pelham

George’s birth was registered in the September-December quarter of 1879, and he was baptised at St John’s Church, Redhill on 18 January 1880.  He lived at 30 Somerset Road, Meadvale, with his parents for the whole of his life.  In the 1901 and 1911 Censuses he is listed as working as a bricklayer, the same as his father.  He played football for Meadvale Rovers and also for the cricket team; but, otherwise, little is known of his life, except that he was remembered with great affection by Maurice and Van Marchant, the sons of his older sister Annie, who lived a few doors down.

George enlisted at Guildford, joining the 2nd Battalion, Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment (QRWS) with the service number G/4059.  It is not known precisely when he joined, but, given that one of his medals is the 1914 Star, it seems likely that his Army service began not long after war started.

On 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, the 2nd Battalion, QRWS advanced towards Mametz Wood and Flatiron Copse; early that evening they advanced on High Wood.  It was during this attack that George was killed.  His body was never found, and his name is among those listed on the Thiepval Memorial.

Private Joseph Timothy Morley

Information contributed by Henry and Jean Pelham (courtesy of Brian Gudgeon)

Joseph was born in 1891, the eldest son and second (out of seven) child of Joseph and Harriet Louisa Morley.  The family lived in Hollis Row, Earlswood, before moving to The Bungalow, Mason’s Bridge Road Earlswood.  His father had built the bungalow in the early 1900s, was a Chimney Sweep in the early 1900s, and was a chimney sweep by trade.

Joseph had enlisted in the latter part of 1915 and sent to France early in 1916.  He was wounded and sent to England to recover in Red Cross hospital, at Sittingbourne. It was from here he sent a letter to his sister Jessie saying that zeppelins were over Sheerness! He said he was peeling potatoes and getting about generally, though his legs ached, and wouldn’t mind staying there for the duration!

He rejoined the 7th Battalion, the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment on 2 August 1916 and returned to France the following day. He was posted missing, presumed killed in action, on 28 September 1916, just six weeks from when he returned to France.

The Regiment to War diaries reveal that, on 27 September, the battalion was attached to the 53rd Infantry Brigade for operations:

orders were received and issued for the attack on Schwaben Redoubt and all preparations for same made.

28 September-battalion attacked at 1pm, gaining and holding southern side.

29 September-battalion holding ground gained with continuous fighting at close quarters. At night, battalion was relieved by eighth Battalion, East Surrey Regiment, and proceeded to North Bluff, near Authuille.  Casualties to fighting of 28 and 29 September one officer killed and 10 wounded; other ranks killed 44, missing believed killed one, wounded 251, wounded and missing one, missing 87. Total 384. His body was never found and his name is on the Thiepval Memorial.


William Charles Layton, Redhill boy given military funeral

Written by Moira Nairn

William Charles Layton was born on 28th May 1898, the first son and third child of Charles Robert Layton and Clara Layton née Clarke. Both parents had been born in South London but, by 1901, had settled with their family in 24 Fengates Road, Redhill where Charles worked as an upholsterer and picture framer. Sadly, in the same year of William’s birth, his sister, Mary Elizabeth, died. A fourth child, Frederick Charles Layton, was born in 1907.

William Charles joined the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment) at the age of 16, joining up on 18th May 1915. After training, he was quartered in the borough where he was working as an orderly.

Newspaper report on William Charles Layton's funeral

Newspaper report on William Charles Layton’s funeral

He took ill suddenly and died of peritonitis on 3rd March 1916. A gun carriage carried his coffin to Reigate cemetery where the Last Post was played and a firing party was deployed. His burial on 8th March was reported in a local paper.


‘The 2/5th Battalion on the Queen’s West Surrey Regiment, who are quartered in the Borough, have lost a very promising and popular soldier in the person of Pte W.C. Layton, who died after a very short illness on the Reigate and Redhill Hospital on Friday morning and was buried on Wednesday at the Reigate Cemetery with military honours. Pte Layton, the son of Mr C. R. Layton, 24 Fengates-rd., was a keen soldier. He enlisted in the 2/5th Queen’s on the 18th of May 1915, at the age of sixteen, and, with the military training he received at Windsor and other places developed and looked older than he really was. Since the battalion had been in the Borough he has been engaged as a clerk in the orderly room. He was suddenly taken ill last week and removed to the hospital, where he died in the early hours of Friday morning in the presence of his father and mother.

A large number of people witnessed the funeral, which was of an impressive character. The coffin, draped with the Union Jack, was taken on a gun carriage drawn by six horses to Shrewsbury Hall, the Plymouth Brethern Mission, where deceased attended regularly prior to joining the Army. Mr Joseph Burt and Mr F. Kent conducted a service, and kindly and sympathetic reference was made to the dead solider.

After the service the cortege proceeded to Reigate Cemetery, headed by a firing party under Sergt. Tovey. The band of the Battalion attended, and played suitable music en route. The mourning coaches were followed by the “B” Company of the Battalion, to which Pte Layton was attached. Lte.-Col. St. B. Sladen, the Acting Adjutant, Lieut. Chase, and Regtl.-Sergt.-Major Childs were also present.

The mourners included Mr and Mrs C.R. Layton (father and mother), Miss Cissie Layton and Master Fred Layton (sister and brother) and his aunts and cousins. The Battalion Chaplain conducted the service at the graveside. Three volleys were fired and the Last Post being sounded on the bugles, the company dispersed. A number of floral tributes marked the love and affection and esteem in which Pte Layton was held. They were sent by the mother and father, sister and brother, grandma, “Horace.” Aunt Sophie, Aunt Fanny and cousins Flo and Nellie, Mrs Haylar, Mr and Mrs Manning, Mr and Mrs Gandy, the Misses Woodman and Crawley, Mrs. Canter, and Mr and Mrs Bacon. Lt-Col. St. B Sladen, officers and men of the Battalion sent a wreath, Lieut. Sparks a floral tribute, and the men of “B” company also subscribed for a permanent token of respect. The funeral arrangements were placed in the hands of Messrs Geo.Comber and Sons.’

Keith Field, William’s great nephew recalls his grandfather, Frederick Charles Layton, speaking of his childhood memory of the guns being sounded over the coffin. Nine years of age at the time of his brother’s death, the brothers had been close.

Photograph of William Charles Layton with surround

Photograph of William Charles Layton with surround.

The newspaper report concluded by mentioning a ‘permanent token of respect’ given by his regiment to the family. It does not specify what that might be. However, Keith Field has in his possession a framed tribute containing a photo of his great-uncle. The rear of the frame has two metal stamps, one with his great-uncle’s name and service number, and the other with the name of his battalion.

Might this be the ‘token of respect’ referred to in the article?

My thanks to Keith Field for sharing this information about his maternal great-uncle. Keith and his father, Charles Field have also been interviewed as part of the Oral History project where they talk about Charles Field’s Uncle Charles’ WW1 service.