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Remembered Today:

Help to Identify R. Sussex Regt Battalion


carb79

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Hi,

I am trying to identify the Royal Sussex Regiment Battalion with which one of the men I am researching served with, and wondered if anyone on this forum could help please. I have made some guesses based on evidence and would be grateful for any comments.

The man in question is;

1653 Cpl. Frederick Charles Beech, later RFC and RAF.

No service papers survive for his time with the R. Sussex. Regt though I have a copy of his RAF papers from Air 79. His Medal Index card does not show a Bn. number and refers to the RFC medals rolls. I have a copy of the roll and it only indicates the regiment and not the Bn. number.

His RAF papers include a lot of notes about his wounds while with the R. Sussex Regt. It also notes his army number as 3/1653 though elsewhere on the paperwork and medals the 3/ prefix is not used. His MIC shows that he landed in ‘(1) France’ on 28 July 1915.

From the notes on his RAF papers it appears that he was wounded/injured/sick as follows;

03 Mar 1916 – Contusion to Back/Shell Shock (discharged from Convalescent Depot 26th May)

07th Jul 1916 – GSW to back (Discharged to base depot, fit, 16th July 1916)

05th Oct 1916 – admitted to Hospital Wimereux, P.U.O. (not sure if PUO is the cause, though sent to UK 06th Oct, and did not go back to France)

So, having looked at British Regiments by James, and the dates that the battalions of the R Suss. Regt landed in France, my guess is that:

Beech originally joined the 3rd Bn (service number 3/1653) which did not go overseas.

He transferred to the 8th Bn. which landed in France in late July 1915 (James)

While in France he transferred later to the 7th Bn.

My reasoning for suggesting this last transfer is that having used the CWGC facility to search for R Sussex Regt deaths on the 3 dates that Beech was wounded or admitted to Hospital, the searches mainly show 7th Bn. deaths, with very few other regimental casualties for those dates.

03rd Mar 1916 – 7 to 7th, and 1 to other Bn of Regt.

07th Jul 1916 – 123 to 7th and 5 to other Bn. of the Regiment

05th Oct 1916 – 19 to 07th / 1 to other Bn of Regt.

So, is it a reasonable deduction that Beech joined the 3rd, went to France with the 8th and transferred to the 7th?

Any further research suggestions or comments gratefully accepted.

Thanks for looking,

Regards, Steve

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Hi Steve,

His date of entry could also mean that he went with a reinforcing draft, rather than with the Bn when it was deployed, and I have many 2nd Bn men with G/16** numbers (the two men that started me on my quest were G/1675 and G/1677 for example)

I'll have a look this evening and see if his entry date matches any drafts to 2nd Sussex. 7th Sussex generally (there are, as with everything in the GW exceptions) numbered G/ 1 - G/1200 it has been deduced. Had he been 7th Bn he may be listed in their history by Rutter, and Mandy Hall and Nick Ward on the forum, amongst others, have great interest in the 7th.

Meanwhile I will try and see how likely he was a 2nd Bn man for you

All the best

Jim

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Jim

I see today's soldier to be remembered is one of your chaps.

RIP

David

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Steve, a draft of 25 NCOs and men joined 2nd Sussex on the 30th July, so he could have been amongst those (taking into account time from departure, crossing channel and base camp and to Vermelles)

2 ORs were wounded by shelling on 3rd March 1916 in the old German 1st line trench at Loos, so he could have been one of those,

Doesn't match for 7th July, but he could have been posted to 7th Bn after wounding on 3rd March if he was one of the 2 ORs wounded then?

When was he posted to the RFC Steve?

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Hi Jim,

Thanks for looking into this for me. I hadn't considered that he might be in a draft rather than moving with the actual Bn. So with the dates that you have provided it does sound feasible that he was in the draft for the 2nd Bn. He could as you say have moved to the 7th on his return and the July and October dates of wounding tie in with significant events being undertaken by the 7th.

He joined the RFC on 09th Feb 1918 which is noted on the RAF muster roll and his Air 79 papers. There is quite a lot of detail about his movements after being injured, so I am confident that after being admitted to 5th BRC Hospital on 05th Oct 1916, UK via HS st. Andrew 6th Oct, then to No 2 Southern GH Bristol 17th Oct, that he did not go back to France with his regiment. In fact his RAF papers show the date entered and leaving France which ties in with the above (28/7/15 to 12/10/16). So he probably had a long hospital stay and recuperation period, and/or time in UK with a regiment before joing the RFC.

Thanks again for your assistance.

Regards, Steve

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Jim

I see today's soldier to be remembered is one of your chaps.

RIP

David

L/ 8525 Bandsman (in some documentation listed as L/Cpl) William Manley was a pre-war Regular and an Old Contemptible. A Londoner from Forest Gate, William had joined the RSR as a 16 year old boy soldier in 1906 after leaving a Boys Home in Cobham, where he had learned to play the clarinet. He survived the Aisne and First Ypres and was killed at Cambrin, La Bassee, when B Coy counter-attacked at 2200hrs on 31st Dec 1914 to recover a OP post and MG position lost by 2 KRRC. He was one of 4 reported ORs killed with 7 wounded and 10 missing over that New Year's evening. 2/Lt Anson Silvester was killed along with them. The final confirmed death toll was 10 killed. RIP :poppy:

His next of kin was his brother Herbert, who was in the 12th Canadian Mounted Rifles.

Thanks David

RIP William :poppy:

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Hi Steve

I don't think your man could have been 8th Battalion when he landed in France. The image below is from Royal Sussex Medal Roll ref WO329/1246 showing G/1653 as Private John Clayton 8th Royal Sussex, transferring to the 9th Battalion at some point. His medal card shows entry to France on 24 July 1915.

P1030037_zps858116bd.jpg

I have had a quick look at The History of The Seventh (Service) Battalion by Owen Rutter and can't see any obvious mentions in the various appendices at the back which lists men for Mention in Dispatches, MM etc.

Mandy

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Hi Phil,

His MIC only indicates one roll which is against the Star, and refers to the RFC roll. I have a copy of that roll page, it doesn't say that it is specifically for the star though all of those listed disembarked in a theatre of operations in 1915. So do you think that there should be a separate roll for the BMW/Vic?

Regards, Steve

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Mandy,

Thank you, that is very helpful and it would tie in withwhat Jim mentione earlier. Beech only has the 3/ prefix once on his RAF papers, would I be correct in thinking that refers to initial enlistment into the 3rd Bn?

Thanks and Regards, Steve

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Steve,

That throws my line of thinking then, as I was going along the lines that you probably had the BW & VM roll. I'm not exactly up on it when transfers run through the RFC to the RAF.

However, I just looked at the only page of RSR Star rolls that I have and they don't give the Battalion, but do clarify the prefix. I think there is a possibility that he was LSR/1643, a pre-war Special Reservist.

Phil

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Mandy,

Thank you, that is very helpful and it would tie in withwhat Jim mentione earlier. Beech only has the 3/ prefix once on his RAF papers, would I be correct in thinking that refers to initial enlistment into the 3rd Bn?

Thanks and Regards, Steve

Yes, you are correct Steve.

Mandy

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Mandy - Thanks for clarifying that for me, that is helpful.

Phil - I've just had a quick run through the MIC's to see if there was another card for Beech other than the one that I have, even looking under Beach as well as Beech I cannot find another one. The page from the star roll that I have was submitted by the RFC so I wonder if he does appear tucked away in the RSR rolls as well.

As there is one sighting of 3/1653 as his number would that rule out the special reserve number you suggested?

Regards, Steve

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Mandy and Phil,

Looking at your comments above about the RSR 1914-15 Star Roll, I'm under the impression that some pages will show Bn and others won't. So Beech would appear in that roll somewhere, and the seprates BWM/Vic roll, even if it does point towards a transfer to the RFC, and it may or may not show the Bn. So it may be worth my while trawling through WO329/1246 (and associated RSR rolls) to see what it does say for him. Is that sound logic?

Regards Steve.

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Steve,

Unfortunately, I can't access the MIC (no Ancestry these days), so I'm working in the dark a bit. I take it that there is nothing in the box on the back page (bottom right) of his AIR 79 record that relates to the BW & VM?

I would assume and don't take my word for it, that he will be on the RAF rolls for the BW & VM, which are in WO 329/2135 to 2137, as far as I can make out. If they are like the other non-infantry rolls, they won't be very helpful though.

Phil

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Phil,

His MIC shows very little other than the trio entitlement, change of unit/numbers and a ref to the RAF roll against the 1914-15 star. On his RAF papers it shows the Star and the BWM/Vic on separate lines and in the authority column the number 10708, so not much help there. The paper copies I have from AIR 79 are illegible in some places so I have asked a researcher to take a digital copy for me, that may show up some more detail.

Thanks for your help withthis.

Regards, Steve

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. I think there is a possibility that he was LSR/1643, a pre-war Special Reservist.

Phil

Phil got me thinking there, so I thought I'd check some more Royal Sussex MICs for #1653 and see what deductions we can come up with:

-He could not be a L/1653 (Regular) because even the 'old sweats' had numbers in the L/7000-8000 bracket, so L/1653 would have drawn his army pension years before!!!

-Mandy has already shown that G/1653 (War Duration 'Kitchener' volunteer) was Pte John Clayton of 8th Sussex

-Looking at the Territorial Force, 4th Sussex went to Gallipoli - Egypt - Palestine, and we know Beech went to France, so rules them out

5th (Cinque Ports) Sussex went to France, but there is a MIC for 5/1653 Pte James Bates, so that's them rules out

Their 2nd and 3rd lines stayed in the UK, except 2nd/6th (Cyclists) Sussex who went to India, so Beech was not with the TF

- He was not a Lowther's Lamb either, as SD/1653 was Pte Charles Howlett, and besides the Lambs did not get to France until March 1916

So that leaves Beech as being a Reservist (S prefixed generally in 'Home Counties' Regts' 3rd Bn); Special Reservist (SR pre-fixed) or perhaps a time-expired SR who had re-enlisted for 'war duration service' (GSSR pre-fixed). His number fits in the S/**** series for the Sussex, but he would have got to France a lot sooner than the MIC suggests, so unlikely, unless kept at 3rd Sussex to instruct a particular skill he had acquired (unlikely perhaps as not an NCO?). Also GSSR men did not have numbers as high as 1653, I believe, only reaching three-figures .... So from an exercise in elimination Beech may well have likely been a SR (LSR also used) man: I have found SR/four-figure casualties with 2nd Sussex and none (so far) made casualties pre Sept 1915, which would fit in with his date in theatre on his MIC

So, in conclusion, I think Phil is right, Beech was a Special Reservist (so 3rd Bn listed), and I reckon he was in that draft to 2nd Sussex I proposed above, and then moved to 7th Sussex after his wounding in March 1916. I think his number was SR/1653 ...

Any thoughts?

Cheers

Jim

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Jim,

Your reply came in as I was typing this up, and I think that you are all on the right track, though read on....

I decide this afternoon to wade through the Times Digital Archive online and look for Beech using various search terms. I have done this before for Beech but with no success. I used the most obvious, his name and number, then using the regiment name but nothing. In the end I just used 'wounded' and searched in a window starting the day after he was first wounded (03rd Mar 1916) and for about 2 months after, and started to wade through 581 results (clearly not all relevant). After copious cups of tea, on page 12 of the results;

From the Times dates 25th March 1916

Pg 6, Column 1, losses in the Ranks, Wounded, R. Sussex R. Line 3 - There he was listed against the 7th battalion.

So I think now that he was 3rd Bn, he was a Cpl so maybe he did stay in the UK to train people as suggested. He was a fishmonger by trade but was later an assistant armourer in the RAF, so maybe armourer skills picked up in the TF?

He was then either in the draft to the 2nd Bn and diverted to 7th, or went to 7th later after some time with the 2nd.

I will keep wading through to see if he appears in the 'corrections' for the following couple of weeks.

I have copied all of the RSR casualties listed in that day, mainly to 7th Bn. So if anyone wants a copy just PM your email to me and I'll send it across.

I note that later on in the 1916 Times reports the BN number is not listed, so this approach will not always work.

Thanks everyone for your help with this, it is all falling into place.

Regards, Steve

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I have resorted to that approach sometimes myself!

The battalions are not shown from about April 1916 onwards, though men listed in the same list were often from the same battalion, so if you can find an overwhelming trend in the list (e.g. a large % of the men went overseas with the same battalion), then you can use that as a guide, but with a good deal of caution.

Steve.

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So I think now that he was 3rd Bn, he was a Cpl so maybe he did stay in the UK to train people as suggested. .

Sorry Steve, of course he was a Cpl!!!! I've been looking at another 2nd Sussex man in-depth recently, a private, and coming back to Beech with fresh thoughts I totally forgot he was a NCO. So he could have been an instructor at the Depot until he was needed across the water more urgently. There is a list of drafts from 3rd Bn to the fighting battalions held at West Sussex Records Office and the last time I was there I scribbled down the drafts to 2nd Sussex, but if I remember rightly by about mid 1915 they did seem to alternate between drafts to 2nd and 7th Bn (roughly fortnightly ?) ... Mandy may have a list of the drafts from 3rd to 7th? See if they fit and corroborate your evidence above. Also, looking at We Wunt Be Druv (Hugh Miller) just now, as I always find reading 7th's WD hard work, I see that they were heavily shelled on the night of the 3/4th March and that in addition to the dead they had 181 wounded . Highly likely he was one of those 181. So I reckon he was always 7th Bn, but was a Special Reservist and hence SR/1653 ...

Phew!!

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I came to the SR conclusion in much the same way Jim and Mandy posted the medal roll at just the right time. Thank you Mandy.

I'm not up with it enough to enter the 2nd / 7th debate, but there is one for Jim amongst my family. James Gatton, GSSR/24 bounced between the 3rd Bn, 7th Bn and the clink, before being drafted to the 2nd as a reinforcement on 23/11/14. He has an extensive Pension record.

Phil

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Jim,

Thanks for your last, The figures that you gave are close to the number of names published in the times, about 110 wounded, plus another 40 odd KIA, shell shocked or Died of wounds. I have found Rutter's history online to view so I'll have a flick through that.

Thanks again for your help.

Regards, Steve

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Pleasure Steve, although think it was Phil and Mandy who really got to the crux and cracked it. Please send me the link to 7th history online I'd be interested in that!

Hi Phil, I think I had a quick look at James when I was trying to sort out what GSSR were, but will definitely go back to have another closer look, especially as I've decided to streamline a bit and only concentrate on 2nd Sussex now

All the best

Jim

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