Tag Archives: West Sussex

CWG: Captain Edward Wakeford

Captain Edward Wakeford

Edward Francis Wakeford was born in Rottingdean, near Brighton, Sussex, in February 1881. He was the younger of two children to curate William Wakeford and his wife, Eliza.

The family home was always a busy one; the 1881 census records one visitor, four boarders and a servant. Ten years later, confirms one boarder and two servants.

By 1901, William had taken up a post in St Peter’s Church, Henfield. This seems to have been a step up: helping look after the family and a visitor were four servants – a gardener, a cook, a housemaid and a kitchenmaid.

In March 1907, Edward married Annie West Thornton; she was the daughter of a well-to-do family – the census records show that her father, William West Thornton, lived by private means, while Annie was sent to Surrey to attend a boarding school.

Edward and Annie couple set up home on the Sussex coast, and, when William passed away in 1912, were soon also living by private means. They went on to have three children: two girls, Olive and Iris, and a boy, who they named William after both of their fathers.

War was coming to Europe by this point. While full details of Edwards military service are not available, he appears to have given a commission in the Royal Sussex Regiment. Initially serving as a Lieutenant, but October 1914, he was promoted to Captain.

Edward was assigned to the 6th (Cyclist) Battalion, and served in East Anglia. It seems that he fell ill while there, and was admitted to the Norfolk and Norwich Military Hospital, suffering with appendicitis. Sadly the condition proved too much, and Captain Wakeford passed away following the operation. He died on 23rd February 1915, not long after his 34th birthday.

Edward Francis Wakeford’s body was brought back to Sussex. He was laid to rest in Henfield Cemetery, not far from the church where his father had served for so long.

Captain Edward Wakeford
(from findagrave.com)

The now widowed Annie wed again, marrying Reverend John Gurney in October 1917. Tragedy was to strike again, though, when she passed away just a year later, on 20th October 1918. She was laid to rest Henfield Cemetery, in the plot next to her late husband, Edward.

John Gurney went on to live a full live. He never married again, and settled in Buxted, near Uckfield. He passed away in November 1956, at the age of 76 years old. He was also laid to rest in Henfield Cemetery, where he was buried in the same plot as Annie.

Edward and Annie’s children also went on to have full lives, despite the early loss of their parents.

Olive never married, and passed away in Nottingham in 1986, aged 78 years old.

Iris married in Liverpool in 1934, and went on to have two children. When the marriage failed in the 1940s, she got wed again in 1949. She passed away in Cheltenham in 1965, at the age of 54.

William got married in 1940, at which point he was serving as a Lieutenant in the 1st King’s Shropshire Light Infantry. He saw action in Italy towards the end of the war, and was awarded a Military Cross for his service. When peace came to Europe again, he and his wife settled into a normal life, before emigrating to Australia. William passed away in May 1967, at the age of 54 years old.

CWG: Gunner William Reeves

Gunner William Reeves

William Reeves was born in the summer of 1896, one of eleven children to James and Ruth Reeves. James was a house painter from Henfield in West Sussex, and it was there that he and Ruth raised their growing family.

When war came to Europe, William was keen to play his part. He enlisted as a Gunner in the Royal Garrison Artillery, and, by October 1915, was in France.

Little information survives about Gunner Reeves’ military service, but by the time he was demobbed, he had earned the Victory and British Medals, the 1915 Star and the Silver War Badge. The latter award was given to those servicemen who had been honourably discharged from service due to wounds or sickness.

William returned to Sussex, but to a quieter home, James having passed away in the spring of 1916. William was also suffering with his health. He had contracted tuberculosis while in the army, and this is the condition to which he finally succumbed. He passed away on 16th December 1919, aged just 23 years old.

William Reeves was laid to rest in Henfield Cemetery, within walking distance of his family home.

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: 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: Serjeant George Carpenter

Serjeant George Carpenter

George Palmer Carpenter was born in Worthing, West Sussex, in 1881, one of fourteen children to James and Elizabeth Carpenter. James ran the Steyne Hotel on the seafront, and sent his boys off to the Lucton Boarding School in Henfield for their education.

A regimented life seems to have suited George. When he left school, he enlisted in army, joining the Royal Engineers as a Sapper. The 1901 census found him billeted at the Elphinstone Barracks in Portsmouth.

Sadly, there is little further documentation on the life of Sapper Carpenter. He served through to and during the Great War, attaining the rank of Serjeant. He was sent to France in May 1915, though there is little to confirm his role there, or how long he stayed.

Serjeant Carpenter was subsequently attached to G Depot Company of the Royal Engineers, which received men returned from Expeditionary Force and also men enlisted for Tunnelling Companies, Special Companies and other specialist units. By this time – presumably later on in the conflict – he was based back in England, at the regiment’s barracks in Chatham, Kent.

When the war came to a close, George continued with his army career. With conflict in Europe coming end, he was shipped to Singapore in 1917, where he served through to 1920. A Sussex newspaper picked up his story from there:

Much sympathy will be extended to Mrs Carpenter and her family, of the Steyne Hotel, consequent upon the death of Sergeant George Carpenter, of the Royal Engineers, another of our Worthing boys whose life has been laid down in his country’s service. He arrived home in a bad state of health on the 25th of February last from Singapore, where he had been on duty for three years. Suffering from gastric influenza, it was found necessary that he should undergo an operation, which was carried out at midnight on Saturday. But he sank from weakness, and died at half-past eight on Sunday morning. This is the second son of whom Mrs Carpenter has been bereaved within a year, and there is pathos in the words addressed to us by her: “I have again the sorrowful task of sending the news of the death of one of my sons this morning.

Worthing Gazette: Wednesday 24th March 1920

George Palmer Carpenter was 39 years old. He was laid to rest in the Broadwater Cemetery of his home town, Worthing, in West Sussex.

The other brother referred to in the report was George’s younger brother Norman.

He had emigrated to Canada in 1906, but returned to Europe as part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force when war broke out. Wounded in battle in May 1917, he returned to the UK for treatment and recuperation, and remained on home soil for the rest of the war.

In the spring of 1919, he was admitted to hospital with pleurisy and anaemia, and seems that he never fully recovered, succumbing to the conditions in August of that year. He was just 32 years old.

CWG: Boy 2nd Class George Sandell

Boy George Sandell

George William Sandell was born on 13th August 1902, the oldest of five children to William and Mary Sandell. While George was born in Chichester, William raised the family in Worthing; he was a carpenter and joiner by trade, and came from a local building family.

When George left school, he found work as a porter on the railways. Too young to be directly involved in the 1914-1918 conflict, he was definitely for adventure, and, on 5th February 1919, he enlisted in the Royal Navy.

Assigned the rank of Boy – because of his age – he was sent to HMS Ganges II, a training establishment in Suffolk. His decision to enlist was set to be young George’s undoing; within weeks he had contracted pneumonia, and he passed away on 10th March 1919. Tragically, he was just 16 years old.

William and Mary brought their boy back to Worthing; he was buried in the Broadwater Cemetery there, within walking distance of their home.

For me, a huge coincidence to this story is that I lived in the house George was brought up in. He was raised at 27 Southfield Road, in Worthing, up until he was sent for training in 1919. I lived at the same address for a number of years in the early 2000s.

CWG: Private James Butcher

Private James Butcher

James Butcher was born in the village of Durrington, West Sussex, on 12th April 1880. He was one of seven children to agricultural labourer Henry Butcher and his laundress wife, Sarah. The family were dedicated to the countryside life; by the time of the 1891 census, James was listed as a cowboy, as was his older brother, so at 10 years old, his time would have been spent up on the South Downs, tending a farmer’s bovine herd.

In 1904, James married Eleanor Andrews, the daughter of a publisher’s packer from London. The couple would go on to have six children: William, Thomas, George, Walter, Ernest and Gladys. By the time of the 1911 census, the family were living in Broadwater, to the north of Worthing, and James was listed as a general labourer for the town council.

When war arrived on England’s shores, James was keen to to his bit. He initially joined the Royal Sussex Regiment, although subsequently moved to the Agricultural Company of the Labour Corps. Sadly, Private Butcher’s military service records are no longer available, so it’s impossible to confirm exact dates for his time in the army.

James survived the conflict, but the next record for him is the Army Register of Soldiers’ Effects. This confirms that he was admitted to the Swandean Isolation Hospital on the outskirts of Worthing, and subsequently passed away there. There’s nothing to confirm his cause of death, although, based on the nature of the hospital, it is likely to have been one of the lung conditions prevalent at the close of the war.

James Butcher died on the 22nd March 1919, at the age of 38 years old. He was laid to rest in the Broadwater Cemetery, not far from his home.

James Butcher
James Butcher
(from ancestry.co.uk)

CWG: Private Frederick Slaughter

Private Frederick Slaughter

Frederick John Slaughter was born in around 1878, one of eight children to Stephen and Frances (who was better known as Fanny) Slaughter. Stephen was a brewer’s drayman, who had gotten himself in trouble with the law the year before Frederick was born.

Stephen Slaughter charged with feloniously embezzling five several sums of 10s each, which he had received for and on account of his masters, Octavius Coope and others, at Worthing, on the 7th September 1876, was sentenced to six calendar months’ hard labour

Sussex Advertiser: Saturday 14th April 1877

Stephen was imprisoned in Petworth Jail, but took ill there. Two months later, a further newspaper report shed further light on him:


On Thursday another inquest – the second within a week – was held at Petworth Gaol… on the body of Stephen Slaughter.

Mr Linton, the governor, said the deceased was about 36 years of age, was a brewer’s drayman and was sentenced at the April Quarter Sessions to six months’ imprisonment with hard labour for embezzlement. He was a very quiet, industrious, and well-conducted prisoner.

On admission he was put to a labour machine, which consists of turning a handle, weighted to 10lbs, and making 14,000 revolutions daily as a maximum. About a fortnight after he was reported to the surgeon. He was looking pale, and was put in the open air to work at the pumps.

About the middle of June he was put to spinning wool, a very light description of work, and on the 18th June witness again reported him to the surgeon. He continued wool spinning until taken ill on Sunday morning last. Warder Daughtery then reported his illness and witness at once sent for Dr Wilmot, and at that gentleman’s request Dr Hope was also called in consultation.

From that time till his death, early on Wednesday, he was under the care of the surgeons, in his cell, which was a roomy, airy one. The Infirmary was occupied by another case.

On Sunday witness wrote to deceased’s brother, and two of them visited him on Monday. (Witness produced a letter, since received from one of deceased’s brothers, in which he said “In conclusion I beg to thank you and all the officials connected with the prison for your kindness to my brother during his illness, as he told me on Monday when I saw him he was treated with the greatest kindness.”)

The evidence of Mr Wilmot and Mr Hope, surgeon, showed that the nature of deceased’s illness necessitated an operation, which was performed with his consent, but that after it he gradually sank and died of exhaustion.

Horsham, Petworth, Midhurst and Steyning Express: 24th July 1877

Stephen died before Frederick was born, leaving Fanny, to bring him and the youngest of his siblings up alone. Fanny found work as a dressmaker and, according to the 1881 census, she lived in a small cottage just off Worthing seafront with her 15 year old daughter, Emily, and her three youngest boys, Walter (who was 8), Arthur (5) and Frederick (3).

When he left school, Frederick found work as a errand boy for the local fishermen; his two older brothers we employed by a local dairy, and the three of them were living with their mother, a paternal uncle and lodger in a cottage in the centre of the town.

Fanny died in 1902, at the age of 62. Seven years later Frederick, now working as a carman for a grocer, married Gertrude Lawrence, who had been born in Kent. The couple went on to have a son – also called Frederick – the following year.

When war came to European shores, Frederick was quick to enlist. He joined the Royal Sussex Regiment on 9th October 1914, and was assigned to the 7th (Service) Battalion as a Private. Full service details are not readily available, but he certainly served in France, having been posted there in June 1915.

While Private Slaughter’s military records are scarce, his medical ones are very detailed. In June 1916 he was treated in the field for scabies, in December that year, he received treatment for pediculosis, an infestation of lice. Eight months later, he was admitted to a hospital in Camiens with an inflamed knee, something which subsequently recurred two months later, when he was admitted for treatment in Etaples. Frederick was received treatment for a fifth time in January 1918, this time for a deformed toe, but after this, his overall health seemed to stabilise.

Private Slaughter was demobbed in March 1919, and returned to England. Sadly, it seemed that his health wasn’t as good as it might have seemed; on 17th July 1919, he died at home from heart failure, which was subsequently attributed to his was service. He was 41 years old.

Frederick Slaughter was laid to rest in the Broadwater Cemetery in his home town of Worthing, West Sussex.

The war years were particularly tragic for Stephen and Fanny’s children. Along with Frederick’s passing in 1919, his oldest brother Harry had died in 1914, two other brothers – Henry and William – had died in 1916, while a fourth brother, Walter, passed away in 1920.