Category Archives: Sussex

CWG: Stoker 1st Class Frederick Cable

Stoker 1st Class Frederick Cable

Frederick Charles Cable was born on 22nd November 1890 in Eastbourne, West Sussex. He was the younger of three children to John and Louisa Cable, and the family lived on one floor of a three-storey house in the middle of the town.

When Frederick was born, John was working as a billiard marker, but it seems that this was a poor way to scratch together a living for a young father. The 1901 census found the family in London, where John had been born, and where he was not employed as a hotel waiter.

Sadly, the new set-up was not to last long: John died in 1905, leaving Louisa to raise her boys on her own. The next census record, in 1911, records the two of them living a five-room terraced house in East Finchley. They were not alone, however, as they were sharing it with a widow – Elizbeth Hickinbottom – and her 34-year old son, George.

A year later, George and Louisa married, and went on to have a daughter, also called Louisa. Frederick, meanwhile, was to find love of his own, and, in the spring of 1914, while working as a milkman, he married Dorothy Ada Laurence. They would go on to have a son, who they named after his father, a year later.

By this point, war was raging in Europe, and Frederick was called to do his duty in May 1915. His records show that he was 5ft 7ins (1.70m) tall, had dark brown hair, brown eyes and a dark complexion and was given the rank of Stoker 2nd Class.

Over the next couple of years, Frederick served on two ships – HMS Actaeon and HMS Weymouth – and it was on board the latter that he was promoted to Stoker 1st Class in April 1916. The majority of his time, however, was spent on shore-based establishments: HMS Victory in Hampshire and HMS Pembroke in Kent.

The Royal Naval Dockyard in Chatham (HMS Pembroke) was where he spent most of his time, and was where he returned to in the summer of 1917. It was a particularly busy place at that point in the war and temporary accommodation was set up. Frederick found himself billeted at The Drill Hall, away from the main barracks.

On the night of 3rd September 1917, Chatham suddenly found itself in the firing line, as the German Air Force launched a bombing raid. One of the bombs landed squarely on the Drill Hall, and Stoker Cable was killed instantly. He was just 26 years old.

Ninety-eight servicemen perished during the Chatham Air Raid that night. They were buried in a mass funeral at the Woodlands Cemetery in nearby Gillingham. This, too, is where Frederick Charles Cable was laid to rest.

Frederick’s brother John Cable also fought in the First World War. He served as a Sergeant in the 21st Battalion Middlesex Regiment and was killed at the Battle of St Quentin on 25th March 1918. He was 28 years old and left a widow and three children. #

Serjeant John Cable is commemorated on the Arras Memorial in Northern France.

CWG: Private John Lake

Private John Lake

John Walker Lake was born in Eastbourne, East Sussex, in the spring of 1892, the only child of estate manager and auctioneer Percy Lake and his wife Elizabeth.

John’s mother passed away in 1900, when he was only eight years old, and details of his early life are hard to come by. However, by the time of the 1911 census, he had left school and enrolled in a mining college in Guston, near Dover, Kent.

When war broke out, John was quick to enlist. He joined the London Regiment on 18th September 1914, and was assigned to the 2nd/23rd Battalion. His service records show that he stood 5ft 8ins (1.72m) tall, had light hair, blue eyes and a fair complexion.

Private Lake was not to remain in the army for long. Within weeks of joining, he contracted tuberculosis and, on 22nd February 1915, after just 158 days, he was discharged from service as being no longer medically fit for duty.

At this point, John’s trail goes cold. He initially returned to live with his father in Eastbourne. By the autumn of 1918, however, he was in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, probably for health reasons.

The tuberculosis got the better of John Walker Lake, however; he passed away on 20th October 1918, at the age of 26 years old. He was laid to rest in the Milton Road Cemetery in Weston-super-Mare.

CWG: Private Harry Maidment

Private Harry Maidment

Henry James Maidment – known as Harry – was born in Penarth, South Wales, in the autumn of 1890. He was one of seven children to Somerset-born Henry and Minnie Maidment. Henry Sr was a general labourer, and, when he died in 1899, Minnie remained in Penarth, earning money to support the family as a hawker of fruit.

By the time of the 1911 census, most of Minnie’s children were still living at home, with all but one of them working. Harry was employed as a van driver for a laundry, while his siblings were working variously as labourers, sailors and a housekeeper.

In the autumn of 1911, Harry married Annie Hillier, a servant who had been born in Yeovil, but who had also moved to South Wales. The couple went on to have a son, Henry, in October 1912, but he tragically passed away when he was just a couple of months old. They were not to have any other children.

War was coming to Europe by this point, and Harry was keen to play his part. He enlisted towards the end of 1914, joining the 1st Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry as a Private. He arrived in France at the beginning of May 1915, and would have seen fighting at Ypres that spring.

It seems that Private Maidment was wounded at Ypres; he was medically evacuated home and was admitted to the Graylingwell Hospital in Chichester, West Sussex. Details of his injuries are not available, but they must have been severe; he passed away from them on 23rd July 1915, aged just 25 years old.

Harry James Maidment’s body was brought back to Somerset; he was laid to rest in the graveyard of Christ Church, Frome, his parents’ home town, and where his widow, Annie was living.

CWG: Ordinary Seaman Victor Duckett

Ordinary Seaman Victor Duckett

Victor Rous Duckett was born in Margate, Kent, on 2nd September 1887, the youngest of seven children to publican and stonemason Charles Duckett and his wife, Emily. Tragically, both of Victor’s parents died when he was young: Charles passed away on 31st October 1891, while managing the Clifton Arms public house; Emily passed away just four months later.

Victor’s brothers Charles and William took over the running of the pub, and, understandably, took on the responsibility for the family. The 1901 census records that he was one of eight boys boarding at a ‘private school’ in a house in Stanley Road, within walking distance of the Clifton Arms. The school was managed by James and Mary Hawkins and had one master, Alexander Smith.

When he left school, Victor found work as a compositor, setting type for a local printer. In the meantime, while his brothers were still running the pub, his three sisters had set up a ladies’ outfitters in Broadstairs, where they employed an assistant, Amy Leggett. Victor and Amy became close and the couple married in Sussex – where Amy was from – in the spring of 1911. They set up home in Croydon, and went on to have twin daughters, Caroline and Dorothy, the following year.

War was on the horizon, and Victor was called up on 27th February 1917. He enlisted in the Royal Navy as an Ordinary Seaman, and was sent to HMS Pembroke, the shore-based establishment in Chatham, Kent. His service records show that he stood at 5ft 10.5ins (1.79m) tall, had brown hair, blue eyes, and a fresh complexion.

HMS Pembroke was extraordinarily busy when Ordinary Seaman Duckett arrived there. Temporary accommodation at Chatham Drill Hall had been set up, and Victor found himself billeted there for the summer.

On the 3rd September 1917, the German Air Force carried out one of its first night-time air raids on England: Chatham was heavily bombed and the Drill Hall received a direct hit. Ordinary Seaman Duckett was badly injured and died of his wounds in hospital the following day. He had celebrated his thirtieth birthday just two days before.

Victor Rous Duckett was laid to rest, along with the other victims of the Chatham Air Raid, in the Woodlands Cemetery, Gillingham.

Ordinary Seaman
Victor Duckett

CWG: Private Albert Gale

Private Albert Gale

Albert Gale was born in the Devon village of Chudleigh Knighton in October 1883, one of five children to John and Elizabeth Gale. It seems that Elizabeth may have died when Albert was young, as, by the time of the 1901 census, John was married to a Sarah Gale, and the family were living in the village of Hennock.

John was a clay cutter, and this was a trade into which Albert followed his father. Again, as time moves on, things change; the 1911 census found Albert boarding with his sister Sophy and her husband, fellow cutter Thomas Willcocks, back in Chudleigh Knighton.

War was coming to Europe and, in April 1916, Albert enlisted, joining the Somerset Light Infantry as a Private. He would have cut a commanding figure; his enlistment papers show that he stood at 5ft 10ins (1.77m) tall.

Albert served on home soil. While attached to the Somerset Light Infantry, he was assigned to the 661st Agricultural Company of the Labour Corps, working in Kent and Sussex.

During this time, he received hospital treatment on four separate occasions: in August 1916, he was admitted with cellulitis of the arm; in December 1916 and January 1917, he was treated on two separate occasions for scabies. In November 1911, however, he was admitted to the Military Hospital in Chichester, West Sussex, as he was suffering from influenza. Sadly, this last condition was to worsen and, on 21st November 1918, Private Gale died, having subsequently contracted pneumonia. He was 35 years old.

Albert Gale’s body was brought back to Devon for burial. His brother-in-law Thomas had died the previous summer; his story can be found here. Albert was laid to rest in the grave next to his sister’s husband in the churchyard of St Paul’s in Chudleigh Knighton.

With Thomas dead, Sophy had been left a widow. Understandably bitter at what the war had taken from her, when she was asked if she wanted a memorial for her brother, she returned the form with the following statement: “I don’t require the plaque and scroll in memory of my dear brother; a piece of paper won’t keep me.”

CWG: Lance Corporal Harry Cheeseman

Lance Corporal Harry Cheeseman

Harry George Cheeseman was born in the summer of 1893, one of eleven children to Charles and Sarah Cheeseman. Charles was an innkeeper, and ran the now-closed Red Lion Inn in Angmering, West Sussex for more than twenty years.

Harry did not follow in his father’s footsteps when he left school. Instead, he moved in his his older sister and her family in Horsham, where he worked as a roundsman on his brother-in-law’s dairy farm.

When war broke out, Harry was eager to enlist. He joined the Royal Sussex Regiment on 16th September 1914, and was assigned as a Private to the 9th (Service) Battalion.

Initially formed in Chichester, Private Cheeseman found himself moved to Portslade, then Shoreham, then Woking in Surrey, before eventually being sent to France at the beginning of September 1915. By this point, he had proved his worth and had been promoted to Lance Corporal.

Harry’s bravery shone through; in November 1915, while battle was raging, he brought an injured colleague into a field hospital and was about to rescue another when he himself was injured. His wound – a gun shot wound to the spine – was initially treated on site, but he was soon evacuated back to England.

Lance Corporal Cheeseman’s injuries proved to be life-changing. A later newspaper report stated that he had been “physically helpless” [Worthing Gazette: Wednesday 5th March 1917], so paralysis seems likely. Awarded the British and Victory Medals and the 1914 Star, he was medically discharged from the army in May 1916.

Harry returned home, but never really recovered from his injuries. He died on 26th February 1917, at the tender age of 23 years old. His funeral “which was of a most impressive character, was witnessed by five hundred people” [Worthing Gazette: Wednesday 5th March 1917], and he was laid to rest in the graveyard of St Margaret’s Church in his home town.

CWG: Private Frederick Finch

Private Frederick Finch

Frederick Henry Harvey Finch was born in 1876 in the Sussex village of Ripe. He was one of eleven children, born to James and Eliza Finch. James was an agricultural labourer, a trade into which most of his children, Frederick included, followed.

In the spring of 1900, Frederick married Ellen Maloney. She had been born in Fareham, Hampshire, and, by the time of the 1891 census, ages just nine years old, was recorded in the Union Workhouse in Portsea. The couple wed in Hailsham, and went on to have three children, Frederick Jr, Hilda and Herbert.

By now, Frederick had moved on from farm labouring, and was working as a groom and a gardener. Within ten years, however, he had moved the family to the coast and the village of Angmering; he had found new employment, working as a carter for a coal merchant.

Frederick continued in this line of work as war broke out, but was one of the first to join the village’s contingent of the Voluntary Training Corps. He seemed to be content with this and at the start of 1917, he enlisted in the armed forces, joining the Army Veterinary Corps.

Private Finch was sent to Woolwich for training, but within a matter of weeks fell ill. Admitted to the Royal Herbert Hospital, he passed away on 24th January 1917, at the age of 40. No specific cause of death is recorded, but a local newspaper report of his funeral suggests, rather disingenuously, that “his health, which was never very robust, proved unequal to the strain of Army life”. [Worthing Gazette: Wednesday 7th February 1917]

Frederick Henry Harvey Finch was brought back to Angmering for burial He lies at rest in the graveyard of St Margaret’s Church in the village.

CWG: Gunner Percy Gast


Percy Cyril Edward Gast was born in the West Sussex village of Nutbourne in 1889. His parents were William and Eliza Gast and he was one of sixteen children, seven of whom survived.

William was an agricultural labourer, and farming was the line of work the whole family went into; by the time of the 1911 census, they had moved to Rustington, near Worthing, where Percy was working as a cowman.

When war broke out, Percy enlisted, joining the Royal Garrison Artillery. His skillset soon identified, he was transferred over to the 696th Agricultural Company of the Labour Corps.

While full details of his time in the army are not readily available, Private Gast served his time on home soil. Towards the end of the war he contracted influenza and pneumonia and was admitted to the Mile End Military Hospital in Newham, East London.

Sadly, the lung conditions were to prove his undoing; Private Gast passed away on 20th November 1918, at the age of just 29 years old.

Percy Cyril Edward Gast’s body was brought back to Rustington for burial. He lies at rest in the graveyard of St Peter and St Paul’s Church in the Sussex village.

CWG: Private Charles Hide

Private Charles Hide

Charles Arthur Hide was born on 14th July 1897 and was the son of Ellen Edith Hide. The 1901 census found Charles living with his mother and her parents in the West Sussex village of Clapham. When Ellen’s father James died in 1909, local hurdle maker Alfred Daniels took her, Charles and her mother in as lodgers. Ellen subsequently married Alfred in 1916.

Charles, by this time, had left school and found employment with the railways. He started work on 22nd April 1913, earning 14s per week (around £55 a week in today’s money) as a porter at the station in Hove.

When war broke out, however, Charles felt the need to do his duty. He resigned from his job on 13th November 1914, and enlisted in the Royal Sussex Regiment as a Private. Charles was not alone in this: the employment records for Hove Station show that a number of other porters also handed in their notice around the same time.

Assigned to the 11th (Service) Battalion (also known as the 1st South Downs), Private Hide was initially based near Bexhill. His troop was then moved on, first to Maidstone in Kent, then to Aldershot, Hampshire. Whilst the battalion as a whole were shipped to France in 1916, there is no evidence that Charles went with them, and it seems that he may have served his time on home soil. Wherever he was based, he was awarded the Victory and British Medals for his time in the army.

At this point, details of Private Hide’s life become sketchy. He is only mentioned in one further document – the Army Register of Soldiers’ Effects – which confirms that he passed away at a military hospital in Epsom, Surrey, on 26th March 1917, although no cause is given. He was just 19 years of age.

Charles Arthur Hide’s body was brought back to Sussex for burial. He lies at rest in the quiet graveyard of St Mary the Virgin Church in his home village of Clapham.

CWG: Private William Osborne

Private William Osborne

William Osborne is sadly one of those names that seems destined to be lost to time.

The starting point for any research is always going to be the gravestone; this is situated in the Woodlands Cemetery in Gillingham, Kent and confirms his service number, rank and regiment and the date of his death.

The service number helps confirm his first name, and that his widow was called Eliza, but without his age and confirmation of when he was married, there are too many potential Williams and Elizas/Elizabeths to confirm a definite identity.

The only thing that can be confirmed, therefore, is that William enlisted in the Middlesex Regiment at some point before April 1918, and subsequently transferred across to the Labour Corps. He passed away on 8th November 1918 at the Second Eastern General Hospital in Brighton, Sussex, having contracted pneumonia.

William Osborne lies at rest in that Gillingham Cemetery, not far from where his widow was living.