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.

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.

Robert Bramall Dives

Family story contributed by Brian Gudgeon

Robert Bramall Dives was born in Adelaide, Australia, in 1883, to James and Ellen Dives.  By the time of the 1891 Census, his family had moved to New Farm, Epsom, Surrey; Robert was recorded as being a scholar at the time.  In 1901, now aged 18, Robert was working as a Printer Compositor, living with his parents at 6 Willett Road, Croydon.  In 1909 he married Alice Victoria Jones, and the couple lived at 1 Mint Terrace, Mint Road, Wallington, Surrey, while he worked as a Printer Compositor.

After the outbreak of the First World War, Robert enlisted with the Royal Garrison Artillery, on 24 May 1916  aged 33. After training in 183rd Heavy Battery he embarked Southampton 30 September 1916 and disembarked at Havre 3rd October 1916.  Sadly, Robert was killed in action in the field 19 September 1917.

Robert Dives Service Medal and Awards Rolls Entry. Courtesy of Brian Gudgeon.

His name appears in the 1919 Service Medal & Awards Rolls:
Name Robert Bramall Dives;
Military year 1914-1920;
Rank Gunner;
Medal awarded British War Medal and Victory Medal.
Regiment Royal Garrison Artillery;
Regimental No. 109406.
Previous units 183 Heavy Battery. Royal Garrison Artillery, service number 109406, Gunner.

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.

Arthur Pelham

Family story contributed by Henry Pelham (provided by Brian Gudgeon)

Arthur Pelham was born on 8 March 1878, to Richard and Amy (née Dudley) Pelham. Richard was a farm labourer and the family (they had 13 children) lived at Leigh. Arthur married Lottie Louise Scrace on 1 October 1904 and they had two sons: Frank Arthur (born 1877) and Samuel (born in 1912) H.R. Arthur and Lottie lived at Kinnersley Cottage, Reigate, and he worked as a labourer. They also lived at 33 Warren Road, Meadvale.

In January 1915, Arthur enlisted in Guildford with the 1st Battalion, the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment, as Private G/4073. Arthur was undoubtedly a very brave man as the Surrey Mirror of 1 September 1916 reported.  With the headlined ‘Gallantry by a Sidlow Man, military medal awarded’ it records that he gained the coveted award for bringing in wounded and of heavy fire. He had been sent to France in April, where he had seen much fighting, and it was on 15 August that he distinguished himself.

Lottie received a letter from a Mr Carslake of Wimbledon, which gave some idea of her husband’s heroic act. It read: ‘I do not know if you have heard of the very gallant thing your husband and three other men of the Queen’s did on the 15th? My son (Captain Carslake) was wounded rather severely, and your husband and the other three bandaged him up and carried him on a stretcher over 300 yards of ground that was swept with heavy rifle, machine-gun and shrapnel fire. I am sorry to hear your husband has since been wounded. I hope it is not serious and that he is going on well. You will understand from what I have said above why I am asking, as I believe your husband helped to save my son’s life, and I want you and him to know how grateful my wife and I feel. Where is your husband in hospital? I would like to know, as if it is in London I should like to go and see him. I hope he will recover quickly’.  Unfortunately, this was not to be.

The Surrey Mirror of 5 January 1917 reported: ‘MILITARY FUNERAL – Great interest was taken in the funeral of Private Arthur Pelham, of the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment, which took place at Sidlow Bridge on Tuesday, amidst many manifestations of sympathy for the family. Private Pelham, who leaves a widow and several children, prior to joining up lived in the village and was greatly respected. He was wounded some time ago, and was taken to the King George’s Hospital, London, where he died on December 27, being 39 years of age. It is worthy of note the private Pelham and three others, after some severe fighting, and amidst a shower of shells, carried Captain W. B. Carslake. The Kensingtons provided a firing party, and buglars who sounded the Last Post.’ The Sidlow Bridge Parish Magazine for February 1917, reported that Captain Carslake said of him “he was quite one of the finest stretcher bearers in the battalion, which is saying a good deal.” The surgeons, nurses and comrades were struck by his extraordinary patience, courage and unselfishness. He never murmured or complained. He bore his sufferings with fortitude and calm resignation to the will of God. The wounds sustained by Arthur proved to be serious, and his death certificate states cause of death as 1. Pulmonary haemorrhage; 2. Gunshot wound face three months. A courageous man to the end.

Frank Pelham

Family story contributed by Henry Pelham

Frank Pelham was born 19 April 1897 in Leigh, near Reigate in Surrey, to Henry and Mary Pelham (née Chantler), and was one of eight surviving children, three boys and five girls. Frank, like his father and brothers, was employed on the land as an Agriculture Labourer.

Frank enlisted and followed his elder brother Harry by joining the Royal Garrison Artillery at Woolwich, in early 1916. His army number was 81220 and with the rank of Gunner. He firstly, he was in the 149th Siege Battery with his training completed at Bexhill in Sussex. He was sent to France on 2 December 1916 where he joined the 223rd Siege Battery, with which he stayed until 1919.

Frank’s war records have not survived, most likely because of the heavy bombing of London in the Second World War; these are now known as the ‘Burnt Records’.  The Siege Batteries did not keep war diaries themselves due to the part they played in battles, being constantly on the move wherever heavy bombardment was needed, and hopefully not to get located and targeted by opposing German Artillery.  The war diaries were kept by the Battalions to whom the Siege Batteries were allotted and this is from them we are able to follow Frank’s unit’s movements.

The 223rd Siege Battery, together armed with four 6 inch 26 cwt Howitzers, went to the Western front in France on 2 December 1916, and joined the 19th Heavy Artillery Group the Fifth Army on 7 December 1916. They were taking part in operations on Ancre, Miraumont, Thilloys, Rettemoy Graben, the Hindenburg Line, and Bapaume and the first attack on Bullecourt. He was transferred on 13 April 1917 to 46th Heavy Artillery Group to counter the German attack on Lagnicourt.

On 20 June 1917, Frank was transferred to the 70th Heavy Artillery Group of the First Army, who were joined by the 360th Siege Battery. The combined unit was taking part at the Souchez River, and the capture of Avion and Oppy Wood. On 24 October 1917 he was transferred to the fourth Heavy Artillery Group, with whom he saw action at the Battle of the Ancre in 1918.

Frank was demobilised in 1919, and returned to working on the land. He married Emily Emma Morley in 1937, living in Burstow and Smallfield for the rest of his life. Frank and Emily had one son Henry Frank, born 25 March 1942. Frank died in 1974, aged 77.

Harry Pelham

Family story contributed by Henry Pelham

Harry Pelham was born 31 October 1887 in Leigh, near Reigate, to Henry and Mary Pelham (neé Chantler).  Harry was the second child and eldest boy, of eight surviving children (three boys and five girls).

On leaving Leigh Village School, Harry joined his father working on the land of a local estate (Mynthurst) as an Agricultural Labourer.  Harry later went to work at Netherne Asylum, near Coulsdon, as an Asylum Attendant.  It is from here that he enlisted on 15 November 1915.  He joined the Royal Garrison Artillery at Woolwich; his army number was 68578 with the rank of Gunner.

He was sent for training the next day (16 November 1915) and, following training, was mobilised on 29 February 1916, joining the 123rd Siege Battery in France, with which he remained until 18 June 1917.  The Siege Batteries did not keep war diaries themselves due to the part they played in battles, being constantly on the move wherever heavy bombardment was needed, and hopefully not to get located and targeted by opposing German Artillery.

The war diaries were kept by the Battalions to whom the Siege Batteries were allotted and it is from them it is possible to follow Harry’s unit.  The 123rd Siege Battery went to France armed with four 6 inch 26cwt Howitzers and on 18 July 1916 joined the third Army.  On 23 July he became part of the 47 Heavy Artillery Group, and was involved in defending Vimy Ridge against German attack and the battles of the Somme through 1916, and in 1917 the retreat of German Forces back to the Hindenburg line and the many battles of Arras and capture of surrounding areas.

Following the capture and defence of Roeux (13 – 16 May 1917) and action following the Hindenburg line (20 May – 16 June 1917). Harry Pelham was transferred to the Royal Artillery workshops in Boulogne on 18 June 1917, and became a ‘Gunner/Fitter’ and was involved with the maintenance and repair of Fire Power Equipment operated by the Royal Garrison Artillery.

Harry Pelham remained in Boulogne until 13 May 1919 when he was transferred to Beauval; he stayed there until 27 May 1919, when he was transferred back to England and released from the army.

Harry returned to working on the land with his father. In 1920 he married Louisa Elderfield and had two daughters, Marjorie and Evelyn. Harry continue to work on the estate and was given the task of starting and running a turkey farm by his employers. Unfortunately, Harry died in 1929, aged 43, and is buried in Leigh churchyard, Surrey.

This information has been gathered over a long period of time, and it must be mentioned that the family does not know when he had home leave; but, he must have done so, as pictures exist of him in uniform and were taken in Reigate, near his home in Leigh.

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.

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.