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Remembered Today:

2nd and 1/5th Royal Sussex's Blackest Day, Richebourg, 9th May 191

Jim Hastings

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Remembering the fallen, wounded and missing men of 2nd and 1/5th (TF Cinque Ports) Bns of the The Royal Sussex Regiment at the Battle of Aubers Ridge, Sunday 9th May 1915, 100 years ago.
That fateful day was the most traumatic for 2nd Sussex during their entire war service: the War Diary indicates 14 officer and 548 OR casualties - from c.850 fighting men. 273 are listed as killed, not including the nine who died the day after from wounds, and countless others over the following days and weeks. 93% (Miller, We Wunt Be Druv) of those killed on the 9th have no known grave and are commemorated on Le Touret Memorial.

They were supported that day by their Territorial sister-battalion, 1/5th (Cinque Ports) Bn The Royal Sussex, the East Sussex TF, who had 85 men killed out of 230 casualties. Their A and C Companies followed their 2nd Bn comrades into the fray, B and D following them, until the CO stopped some platoons 'going over' as he saw the carnage developing.

The 2nd Sussex covered a 400 yd frontage to the left of the 'Cinder Track' at Richebourg L'Avoue . Tea and rum were passed around at 0330hrs. The bombardment of German positions, about 300 yards away, began at 0500 and intensified at 0530. 9 and 11 platoons of C Coy (on the right) and 15 and 16 platoons of D Coy (on the left) scrambled over the parapet, followed by the second wave of their remaining platoons. The plan was to form up midway in no-man's-land and assault the German positions when the barrage lifted at 0540, followed up by A Coy (right) and B Coy (left) but many had already succumbed to German sniper, rifle and MG fire - the Germans having been alerted to the attack by the barrage and by their lookouts. Under the withering fire some assaulted to within 40 yds of the German positions - finding the German wire unbroken and their defenses intact. Enfilading MG fire claimed many, especially when the Royal Munster Fusiliers withdrew and exposed their flank. The WD mentions one man reaching the enemy parapet ... At 0630 the order to withdraw was given, although under that withering fire many were pinned down in 'no-man's-land', to be killed and wounded as they lay there throughout the day. Late afternoon 1st Brigade attacked and survivors lying out on the field from the Royal Sussex joined in their unsuccessful attack. Many of the men lay out in 'no man's land' until nightfall. At 1930 the Bn marched to Les Choquaux and the roll call indicated:

Officers 2 KIA, 9 wounded, 3 missing
ORs 101 KIA, 329 wounded, 118 missing

As ever, the missing would add to those figures of killed and wounded. Aubers Ridge would see the loss of many of 2nd Sussex’s remaining pre-war Regulars.

1/5th Sussex were in their first battle since being deployed to the Western Front in February. It would prove their only battle as an infantry battalion, as they were converted to a Pioneer Bn later in 1915 and moved to 48th Div.

Aubers Ridge, like many of the 1915 battles, is a forgotten battle and was officially considered, in the height of understatement, "a serious disappointment" . Many battalions were destroyed in this area on 9th May 1915, and although I have focused on the battalions of the Royal Sussex, they all must never be forgotten.

Some of the fallen 2nd Sussex were local lads: Newick brothers Aubrey and Jack Brooks; George Garston; William Carr; Leslie Carter; Charles Curd and William Wood. Many a local village war memorial lists 1/5th Sussex men killed on the 9th May: Frank Develin; William Hazelden; Robert Simmonds and Richard Walder of Uckfield's F Coy (went to war as B Coy); Ringmer's Clifford Andrew, whose brother George was wounded; Arthur Moore and George Waller of 11th Platoon of Lewes' C Coy; Tom Riches of Waldron and Frank Saunders; Geoffrey Cornwall and policeman's son Harry Alce of Hadlow Down amongst them.

As some Forum Pals may know from my chats with them, the one place I wanted to be during this centenary four years was at the 'Cinder Track' at 0530 this morning, sadly a recent operation prevents me, but I will get there, hopefully by the 101st anniversary.

RIP the men of the 2nd and 1/5th Royal Sussex that made the ultimate sacrifice on this day or succumbed to wounds in the following, and may Aubers Ridge and those that fell fighting there not be forgotten.

JH :poppy::poppy:

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Lest We Forget.


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Always remembered Jim, a tragic day for the Royal Sussex and other Battalions of the 2nd Infantry Brigade, 1st Division LEST WE FORGET :poppy: :poppy:

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Jim, if you want some company when you get to stand on the spot let me know.

Not forgotten.



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  • 2 weeks later...

Remembering a distant cousin, John Henry Weekley (GSSR/809) who died on the 9 May 1915 with the 2nd Battalion, Royal Sussex Regt.


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