Surrey Firemen killed in action during the Great War

Lingfield Fire Brigade 1914

Title: Lingfield Fire Brigade 1914
Description: Extract of image SHC 7828/2/97/148 by-nc

Before 1941 when a national service was created, fire brigades were organised locally and paid for by their district council. A brigade might have only one permanent fireman, the remaining crew being drawn from local men from a variety of occupations who were ready to respond in an emergency.

Many of these men enlisted during the Great War, although the first Zeppelin raids in 1915 brought a new threat at home in the form of incendiary attacks from the air. With the introduction of conscription in the following year, firemen were not exempt from military service and brigades found it difficult to recruit men to replace those that had gone to fight.

Lingfield - the old Lingfield fire engine and brigade c. 1914. Surrey History Centre ref 7828/2/97/148

Lingfield – the old Lingfield fire engine and brigade c. 1914. Surrey History Centre ref 7828/2/97/148

The Firefighter’s Memorial Trust lists 48 Surrey firemen who were killed in action during the Great War. In some cases, little information is available about them beyond their name and brigade. Official sources, family records and contemporary newspaper accounts shed light on the lives of others. Their ages, backgrounds and occupations vary widely – shopkeeper, lamplighter, house painter, footballer, Charterhouse schoolmaster. In October 2018 a memorial to these men was unveiled at Surrey Fire and Rescue Headquarters, Wray Park, Reigate.

A summary of the biographical information held on this website for 38 of the Surrey firemen who gave their lives for their country is below. Further detail is contained in the individual person records below.

John Francis Barnes
Holmwood Brigade
Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment
Son of James Charles Barnes, of 1, Forge Cottages, Holmwood, Dorking, Surrey, and the late Elizabeth Barnes. Died 27th June 1917 aged 25. Buried at Ypres.

George Frederick Beard
Wallington Brigade
The Buffs (East Kent Regiment)
Born in Camberwell Workhouse. Parents George and Mary Ann. Died on 2nd August 1917 aged 35 years.

Francis George Benson
Byfleet Brigade
South Wales Borderers
Born in Hungerford. Husband of H. T. Benson, of 22, Council Cottages, Byfleet, Surrey. Worked as a Platelayer for London and South West Railways. Was in the Dragoon Guards but then attached to the South Wales Borderers. Died on 21st October 1916 aged 36. Surrey Herald newspaper report says he was shot by a sniper.

George Edward Brant
Southall & Norwood Brigade
Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment
Born in Warfield, Berkshire, the son of John and Caroline Brant. He married Eleanor Cornish in 1899. He arrived in France on 4th January 1915 and died twelve days later on 16th January as a result of German shelling of “D” Company billets. He was aged 39. George Brant is buried in Beaumont Hamel British Cemetery.

Albert George Brind
Sunbury Brigade
Royal Sussex Regiment
Born in 1886 in Sunbury and enlisted there, On 1911 Census is employed as a house decorator/wall paper and living at 7 Amesbury Terrace, French Street, Sunbury. He was killed on 24th August 1918 and is buried at Peronne Road Cemetery, Maricourt, Somme.

George Brooks
Maldens & Coombe
Royal Fusiliers
Born in New Malden. Employed by Malden & Coombe Council for many years and as a member of the local Fire Brigade drove the fire engine a number of times. Joined the Royal Fusiliers along with his brother Henry. A letter from Henry printed in the Surrey Comet of 12th May 1915 states that George was shot in the head by a sniper and killed instantly on 26th April 1915. He was 44.

George Caesar
Godalming Brigade
Royal Sussex Regiment
Lived at 16 North Street, Farncombe. Awarded MM and MSM. Before the war was a leather dresser at Messrs. Pullman’s tannery. A good all-round sportsman he excelled as a footballer, playing for the Farncombe Club, of which he was captain. Known as “Rocky” Caesar. He enlisted in the 8th Royal Sussex Regt. on Sept. 5th, 1914 and went out to France in the following November with the rank of corporal. Died on 7th August 1918 aged 35.He was married to Amy Jane Henson and had a daughter.

Alfred Carpenter
Wimbledon Brigade
Royal Navy HMS Bayano
An Able Seaman aboard HMS Bayano, a former banana boat that had been converted into an armed merchant auxiliary cruiser. It was sunk by Submarine U-27 on 11th March 1915 off the coast of Scotland. Carpenter was one of 194 crew members to lose their lives.

Walter Henry Channell
Ewell Brigade
Machine Gun Company
Born in Worcester Park, the son of Alfred and Elizabeth Channell, he was married to Martha. Worked as a gardener in private homes and for London County Council at Horton Hospital prior to the war. Previously in the QRWS regiment no 6137 before transferring to the Machine Gun Company. Died of Wounds on 6th August 1917 aged 34.

George Cook
Limpsfield Brigade
Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment
Born in Limpsfield, he and his wife Adelaide lived at North Cottage. Died on 8th October 1915 and buried in St Peter’s Churchyard in Limpsfield.

William James Daniels
Woking and Weybridge Brigade
Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment
Lived at Cherry Street, Woking with his wife Esther. Died on 23rd August 1915 aged 44. According to a news report was shot by a sniper whilst trying to retrieve a wounded colleague. Esther remarried, to a man called William Bayes who was himself killed in action in October 1916.

Christopher William Dilloway
Caxton Ltd Guildford Brigade
Queen’s Own, Royal West Kent Regiment
Born in Brighton to Thomas and Elizabeth. He married Lily Georgina Bailey in 1910. A bookbinder who learned his trade at the printers Billings in Guildford. He was a member of the Caxton Ltd Fire Brigade and Football Club. Died of a head wound on the way to a dressing station on 30th August 1918. Buried at Daours Communal Cemetery.

Mark Edwards
Dorking Brigade
Middlesex Regiment
He was the only son of Mark Edwards, the landlord of the Rose and Crown public house on West Street, Dorking. Before the war worked for Dorking Urban Council and was a member of the local Fire Brigade for fifteen years. Lived at Rose’s Cottages, Dorking. Enlisted on March 24th 1916 and went to France on July 13th of that year. He was taken prisoner four months later and died on 9th February 1917 in a Prisoner of War camp in Germany. He is buried at Niederzwehren Cemetery, Kassel.

Albert Oscar Foster
Guildford Brigade
Royal Navy HMS Viknor
Born Sunbury, 24 Jul 1889. Married to Annie Foster, 6 Comyn Road, Clapham Junction. Served on HMS Viknor. He was awarded the Victory Medal, the British War Medal 1914-18, and the 1914 Star. On January 13th 1915 the Viknor disappeared in heavy weather while on patrol close to Tory Island off the coast of Donegal, without sending a distress signal. She took with her the entire 291-man crew.

James Francis
Byfleet Brigade
Royal Warwickshire Regiment
He was born in Byfleet and married to Minnie Gennetta Bayliss. They lived at 12, Binfield Road, Byfleet. Died on 20th November 1917 aged 33.

Wilfred Edwin Geeson
Molesey Brigade
Queen’s Westminster Rifles
Son of Edwin James and Elizabeth Geeson, of Rose Cottage, Aldingbourne, Sussex, he was born in Fulham. Went to school at Ackmar Road School in Hammersmith and Fulham. Before the war worked as a postman and shop assistant at the Post Office at 446 Walton Road, West Molesey and also served in the local Fire Brigade. Enlisted as a Private in the London Regiment in December 1915 and was mobilized to France in the following June. He served in Salonika before joining the Egyptian Expeditionary Force in Palestine where he was killed in action on 8th December 1917 aged 24.

Alfred Glue
Godalming Brigade
Royal Marine Light Infantry
Alfred Glue was born at Slinfold, Guildford in 1880 and was married. He was on board HMS Alcantara when it was involved in an action with a disguised German vessel SMS Greif. He was one of 68 men on the Alcantara who were killed.

Alfred Ernest Harman
Caxton Ltd Brigade
Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment
Spent early years in Deptford before family moved to Guildford. Educated at Stoughton School and employed for a time at Messrs. Angel, Son and Gray and then at Messrs. Billings. On 1911 Census is living at 49 Dapdune Road and employed as a compositor printer at Caxton Ltd. where he was also a member of the Fire Brigade. Two brothers William and Albert also in the army and both fought at Mons where William was wounded and Albert suffered shell shock. Alfred Harman arrived in Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) on 10th December 1915 and was wounded in the chest by gunshot on September 29th 1917 during the Battle of Ramadi. He died on 20th October.

Alfred Arthur Hawkes
Esher and Dittons Brigade
Northumberland Fusiliers
Born in Thames Ditton, the son of Alfred Hawkes and Sarah (nee Tickner). Before the war was a house painter. He was married to Annetta Cilia Hawkes. On 1911 Census is living at 2 Warwick Flats, Thames Ditton. His mother lived at No.6 at the time of his death.

Percival Walker Hepworth
LCC Horton Hospital Epsom Brigade
Royal Navy HMS Hawke
On 1901 Census he was serving in the Royal Navy in Malta on HMS Illustrious. By 1911 he was living at Horton Cottage, Long Grove Road, Epsom and was employed for London County Council as “Foreman Fireman Of London County Asylum Fire Brigade”. He was a stoker on HMS Hawke, an old cruiser that was part of the British Grand Fleet sailing from Scapa Flow in October 1914. HMS Hawke was hit by a torpedo fired by submarine U9 at 10.30am on 15th October and sank within 10 minutes. Percy was amongst the 524 crew members reported missing, believed dead.

Percy Higgs
Byfleet Brigade
London Regiment
The son of Leolin Dousley Daniel and Caroline Higgs, of Lorna Cottage, Byfleet, Surrey. Died on 26th May 1915 aged 21 and remembered on the Le Touret Memorial.

Henry William Jeater
Leatherhead Brigade
Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment
Son of the late Henry Jeater, of Westcott; married to Alice Amy, of Tudor Cottage, Westcott, Dorking. He died on 25th September 1917 aged 28.

William Frederick Lawes MM
Godalming Brigade
Royal Army Medical Corps
Lived at 14 Carlos Street, Godalming. Died on 9th November 1917 aged 26 and buried at Dozingham Military Cemetery.

Henry George John Lewis
Kingston Brigade
East Surrey Regiment
Son of Henry and Elizabeth Lewis, of Ranmore, 39, Caversham Rd., Kingston-on-Thames; husband of Phoebe Selina Lewis, of 6, Fairfield East, Kingston. Was a Lamplighter at a Gas Works before the war. He died on 26th September 1915 aged 32. Buried at the Loos Memorial Cemetery.

Percy William Lipscomb
Holmwood Brigade
Somerset Light Infantry
Son of William Henry Lipscomb, of 6, Clifton Hill, Brighton. Enlisted at Salisbury. Formerly 3050, Hampshire Regiment. He died on 3rd May 1917 aged 21.

Albert Loveland
Maldens & Coombe Brigade
East Surrey Regiment
Son of Elizabeth Loveland, of 12, Beverley Cottages, Kingston Vale, and the late Louis Loveland and Elizabeth (nee Hemming). Died on 5th May aged 22.

Frederick Maidment
Wootton House Brigade
London Regiment
Born in Tollard Royal, Wiltshire. Enlisted at Guildford. Formerly in the Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment service no. 3567. Awarded the Military Medal. Died 22nd August 1918 aged 38, he is buried at Bray Vale British Cemetery, Bray -sur-Somme.

James May
Holmwood Brigade
Possibly James Alfred Tullet May, Son of Matthew and Harriett May, of 4, Spring Cottages, South Holmwood, Dorking, Surrey.

Alfred Stephen Nash
Beddington Brigade
Royal Engineers
Born in 1876 in Tadworth, son of Charles and Ann Nash and married to Elizabeth. They lived at “Aden”, York St., Beddington Corner, Mitcham Junction. Died aged 43 on 22nd August 1918 and buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery in Belgium.

Alfred Henry Sargent
Epsom Brigade
Devonshire Regiment
Born in Dorking in 1881, the son of William Henry and Amelia Jane Sargent. A Private in the Devonshire Regiment, he died on 25th September 1915 aged 34. He is buried in Dud Corner Cemetery, Loos.

Percy Skelton
Leatherhead Brigade
Coldstream Guards
Born in Ashtead, the son of Daniel and Betsy Skelton; died on 25th January 1915 aged 31.

Albert William Tate
Dorking Brigade
Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment)
Born in Dorking in 1877, the son of Henry and Sarah Tate, the report of his death in the Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser of August 5th, 1916 states that “he was an old and respected member of the Fire Brigade and was also on the Committee of the Angling Club”. He had only been called up a fortnight before his death on 2nd August 1916, which was possibly caused by a heart attack. He died at the military hospital at Western Heights in Dover. His funeral was attended by a large number of firefighters from Surrey.

Albert James Tayman
Godalming Brigade
Inniskilling Fusiliers
Born at Munstead Farm, the son of Frederick and Mary Ann Tayman, he was married to Edith Jane. They lived in Brighton Road and his mother was a Voluntary Aid Detachment nurse during the war. Albert died aged 27 on 16th August 1917.

Harold Francis Thompson
Godalming Brigade
Rifle Brigade
Harold Frances Thompson was born in 1886 or 1887, 5th son of William Thompson, M.A., Rector of Layde, Cushendall, Ballymena and Sarah Margaret Spratt. He was educated at Dundalk and Trinity College Dublin where he won in succession a sizarship, a scholarship, and gold medals for Mathematics. He was an Assistant Master at Edinburgh Academy from 1904, then at Charterhouse from 1910, being heavily involved with the O.T.C. at both institutions. On the 1911 Census he is listed at Charterhouse. Between November 1911 and November 1914 was Chief Officer of the Godalming Borough Fire Brigade. Enlisted 1914 and made temporary Lieutenant on 18th February 1915. In the summer of 1915 he was commissioned into the Rifle Brigade with the 9th Bn. After some weeks in the trenches, he was wounded in the hand at Hooge and invalided home in the autumn. After recovering from his wound, he was for some time stationed at Seaford and returned to France in the early part of 1916 attached to the 12th Bn. He was killed by a shell burst while walking in a town behind the lines. He was the first Charterhouse master to die in the Great War. His obituary in The Carthusian concludes: ‘Capt. Thompson was a man whose straight and manly character had won him the respect and esteem of all his colleagues, while his genial and generous nature and a truly Irish wit had endeared him to masters and boys alike. His early death will be deeply mourned by all who knew him.’ His name is recorded in a list of Masters killed in the War, near the Headmaster’s seat at the West end of Charterhouse Chapel.

Naylass James Vivash MM
Sunbury Brigade
Tank Corps
Born in Sunbury, he died on 8th August 1918, aged 34, a Gunner in the Tank Corps. He was buried in Heath Cemetery, Harbonneres, Somme, France.

Frederick Whicher
Cheam Brigade
Royal Navy
He was born in Dulwich on 3rd September 1883, and married to Ann Webb. Prior to the war had been a member of the Cheam Fire Brigade. Had a son, Henry Frederick, born on 9th July 1911 and baptized on Sept 3rd 1911 at St Dunstan’s, Cheam. Frederick Whicher died in 1914 and was killed in action during the Battle of Coronel, off the coast of Chile.

Stephen Thomas Woodhouse
Reigate Brigade
Royal Engineers
Stephen was born on 17 September 1876 and baptised at St Mary’s Church, Reigate, on 26 November 1876. His parents were Stephen and Esther Woodhouse (nee Brown) and at the time of his birth they were living in Lesbourne Road, Reigate. In 1891 he was living at 69 Priory Road and working as a butcher’s assistant. On 25 May 1896 he married Ellen Pullen at All Saints Church, Kenley, and gave his occupation as plumber. The couple had five children. He died on 6 July 1917 at no. 3 Canadian Casualty Clearing Station, Belgium, after receiving shell wounds in his chest and knee. The Surrey History Centre in Woking, holds a letter from Helen Drummond, a nursing sister at the Casualty Clearing Station written to Stephen’s wife and describing his final hours: “The poor fellow is so patient and so cheery that it is hard to have to realise how dangerously ill he is”. Stephen Woodhouse was buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, near Ypres, Belgium.

William Worsfold
Leatherhead Brigade
East Surrey Regiment
Born on 3rd April 1891, the son of William and Jane Worsfold, of Bridge St., Leatherhead; in the 1911 Census gave his occupation as Chimney Sweep and Firewood dealer. On 21st November 1916 he married Elisabeth Skene Murrison. William Worsfold died on 21st August 1918 aged 27.

Read more about Reigate fireman Stephen Woodhouse – link here.
Read a history of one of Surrey’s Fire Services on the Epsom & Ewell History Explorer website – link here.

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4 Responses to “Surrey Firemen killed in action during the Great War”

  1. Roger William V

    Can I please make a comment to your web site. I am Roger William Vivash a direct grandson through my father William James Charles Vivash or my Gradfather Naylass James Vivash MM. Not through my mothers line although her father, Arthur Haywood was in the First World War and thankfully came home after the war was over. He moved with his wave and daughter my mother. My fathers mother with her four children my father being the eldest moved to the midland, Old swineford close to Stourbridge my mother with her parents also moved, grandfather was a gardener and his job brought. Him and my grandmother and my mother to Oldswineford near Stourbridge. It’s ironic because if my Grandfather Naylass had not been killed in the war driving his tank my father his brother and two sisters would never have met there husbands and wives and many descendants and there are many myself included would not be alive.

  2. Wendy Capstick

    Naylass James Vivash is my great Grandad. The lineage is NJ Vivash (great Grandad) – AN Vivash (Grandad) – MD Vivash (mother) – me.
    Naylass lived in Sunbury with his wife, Beatrice/Emma. They had 4 children. In the 1911 census his profession is listed as under gardener. When War broke out he joined the Fire Brigade. Then, in 2015 he enlisted, with his older brother. He was originally in the Royal Field Artillery. In 1918 he transferred to the Tank Corps and was awarded the Military Medal in July 2018 for bravery during battle in Hamel and Vaire Wood. He was killed in action on 8-8-18, when he was hit in the head by shrapnel while driving his tank during the Battle of Amiens.
    Naylass is buried in Heath Farm Cemetary, Harbonnieres, France.
    His widow subsequently returned to her home town of Stourbridge where she raised her family.
    I am happy to send a photo and supporting documents if you wish.

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