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

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