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World War One: Servicemen and Women from Sussex

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World War One: Servicemen and Women from Sussex

Throughout the First World War, the guns and fighting in France and Belgium could be heard in East Sussex. At the end of the War the bodies of hundreds of thousands of British soldiers did not return home. Many other men who had been wounded and returned to Britain lost their lives and were buried in their country.

Please link any GENi profiles of WW1 servicemen and women to this Project.

Royal Sussex Regiment - WW1

The Royal Sussex Regiment - 1914-18

The regiment raised a total of 23 battalions and was awarded 69 battle honours and 4 Victoria Crosses, losing 7,096 men during the course of the war. St. Georges Chapel in Chichester Cathedral was restored after the war and serves as a memorial to all members of the Regiment who fell during the war.

Friends of Hastings Cemetery

Notables - WW1 Sussex

Shot at Dawn - WW1

Over the full course of the war, three soldiers in the Royal Sussex Regiment were sentenced to death and put before a firing squad:

  • Private Tite - of the 13th Battalion (Southdowns) Royal Sussex Regiment, was executed for a mix of cowardice and desertion in November 1916. At the time of his execution he was 27. Information about him and his case is found in the work Blindfold and Alone: British Military Executions in the Great War by Cathryn Corns and John Hughes-Wilson:
  • Private Burrell - served with the 2nd Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment and was executed by firing squad for desertion in May 1916.
  • Private J.E. Barnes - charged with desertion and subsequently executed in July 1917. There is little information about him or his case currently available.

The Bray Sisters

There were three qualified Nursing Sisters in the Bray family of Bexhill. Their service in the First World War was recognised in the Bexhill Observer of 4 August 1917. They were Evelyn, Ethel and Mary Bray, daughters of Alderman John Bray, auctioneer estate agent and founder of John Bray & Sons.

Evelyn and Ethel both served in the arena of war close to the Front lines and were recognised for their courage and dedication. Evelyn was awarded a Royal Red Cross medal and Mary served at a large hospital for wounded soldiers in Northumberland, and was active in setting up a hospital for the wounded in London.

Sister Ethel Bray joined the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service, (QAIMNS), in August 1914 and went from No.2 General Hospital, Colchester, to France with Dame Maud McCarthy’s party. By December she had joined H.M. Hospital Ship Asturias. In February 1915, the ship evaded attack by a German submarine whilst bringing wounded soldiers back from France. Ethel continued to serve on Hospital Ships aboard H.M.H.S. Nevasa in the Dardanelles until having completed “a sea mileage of 70,000.”

She applied to stay on the QAIMNS reserve after she was demobilised. Her military record reads “Recommended for exceptional service and devotion to duty whilst serving in the H.M. Hospital Ship Nevasa M.8. F. in Gallipoli from August to December 1915.”

From 1917 she was in charge of a Military Hospital in Ipswich. She remained on the Reserve until 1937 aged 58. In her civilian life she worked aboard P&O liner, Narkunda, from 1929 to 1937.

Cicely Evelyn Bray, known as Evelyn, trained at the Poplar Hospital, London and joined the QAIMNS in 1914. She was posted to Royal Herbert Hospital, Woolwich. She was awarded the Royal Red Cross Medal in 1916, when she was in charge of the operating theatre there. In October 1917, she was posted to a casualty clearing station and was reported to be the Acting Assistant Matron. By May 1918, she was Sister-in-charge of the Surgical Hut of a hospital in Rouen. She was mentioned in dispatches in which her meritorious action was described.

While in Rouen, Evelyn met an officer in the Royal Flying Corps called Alfred Guy Garrod, known as Guy, who she later married at the Garrison Church, Rouen in September 1918. He later become Air Chief Marshal Sir Guy Garrod, M.C., D.F.C.
WIKI Guy Garrod

Not much is known of Mary Bray. In February 1918, she married Captain Edward Clayton of Cricklewood at St Peter’s Church Bexhill, and the Bexhill Observer reported

“For a great part of the year 1915 she assisted at a large Government Hospital for wounded sailors and soldiers in the north of England. For a year and a half she has been in working charge of an improvised hospital in London for wounded officers.”

References, Source and Further Reading

Stories, memories and events commemorating East Sussex’s role in the First World War

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