One hundred and twenty men from Hamsey parish went to serve their country in the First World War 1914-18. Of these 13 were not to return. They left widows, grieving parents and families. Mary Mitchell of Hamsey House lost two sons, Ronald and Charles, both officers. The Sandells family lost brothers, Finden and Walter. Eleanor, Lady Shiffner lost her young son John, just nineteen years old and was to lose her other son, Henry, in the Second War. Fred Heasman survived the war only to be cruelly struck down with influenza before he could return home and Edmund Payne who had survived at sea was to go down with his ship in a violent storm. Francis Pelling and young George Smith were to die so near to the end of the campaigns they were part of. These men served in theatres of war in France and Flanders, Palestine and Mesopotamia. Nine of them have a known grave and four with no known grave are commemorated on memorials.
Arthur Craven Charrington: Captain 1st (Royal) Dragoons. Killed in action at Westroosebeke on 21st October 1914, aged 32. He is buried in the Ypres Town Cemetery and his name is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial, Belgium.
Arthur Collins: Cpl 48280 62nd Battery, 367th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. A regular soldier, previously serving in India, he died of malaria in Brighton General Hospital 27th January 1915, aged 27. He is buried near the First War Memorial in Brighton Borough Cemetery, grave number ZIE 25
Arthur Skerrett: Sergeant G/850, 7th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment. Died of wounds received at Hohenzollern on 14th April 1916, aged 26. He is buried at the Lillers Communual Cemetery, France.
Finden Sandells: Pte Spts/5406 13th Battalion Royal Fusiliers. Died at Beaucourt-sur-Ancre on 16th November 1916, aged 35. He has no known grave but is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, France, along with 73,000 of his fellow comrades.
Albert Ernest Banfield: SD/67 11th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment. Died 24th September 1917 on the Menin Road, aged 20. He was among 40,000 men who were lost in the quagmire, never to be found. Along with 35,000 of his fellow comrades Albert is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial Belgium.
Ronald Mitchell (on the right of the picture): Lieutenant, 10th Battalion (Buffs) East Kent Yeomanry. Died in Palestine on 19th November, 1917, aged 39. Lieutenant Mitchell (whose brother Charles died in 1918) was wounded on 6th November. One leg was amputated before he died 13 days later on 19th November, probably of gangrene. He is buried at the Port Said War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt.
George Smith: C. Company, 16th Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment. Killed in action at Ram Allah, Palestine on 30th December 1917, aged 20. George is buried in the Jerusalem War Cemetery.
Edmund Gordon Payne R.N. : AB J/10182 H.M.S. Amethyst/H.M.S. Opel. Drowned at sea while serving on HMS Opel (a 1,000 ton destroyer) when it sank along with H.M.S. Narborough during a violent gale and snowstorm off Scapa Flow on 12th January, 1918, aged 24. Each ship went down with 80 crew members on board. Edmund is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial, and also on his mother’s tombstone at Hamsey Church.
Walter Sandells: 4th Trench Mortar Battery, Royal Field Artillery. Died of wounds at Monchy-le-Preux on 29th January 1918, aged 24. He is buried at Windmill British Cemetery, Monchy-le-Preux.
Charles Mitchell (on the left of the picture): Lieutenant, 6th Dragoon Guards. Charles (whose brother Ronald died in 1917) was killed in action on 1st April 1918 near Hourges whilst his regiment were trying to capture a wood. He was aged 33. He has no known grave but is commemorated on the Poziers Memorial.
Sir John Bridger Shiffner Bt. : 2nd Lieut. 2nd Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment. Killed in action at Gricourt on 23rd September 1918, aged 19. He is buried at the Bellicourt British Cemetery.
Francis Pelling: Cpl 23912 2nd Royal West Kent Regiment. Died at Sharqat in Mesopotamia on 28th October 1918, aged 25. Francis Pelling is buried at the Baghdad North Gate Cemetery, Iraq, in Plot 18,.Row F, Grave 1-29. He is also commemorated on his parents grave at Hamsey churchyard.
Frederick William Heasman: Gnr 374372, Heavy Anti-Aircraft Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery.
Having survived 3 years of the war in France, Fred sadly died before he could return home. He was admitted to the 55th General Hospital at Wimereux (otherwise known as the Eastern General) suffering from influenza (an epidemic claimed the lives of 2000 surviors of the war) on 16th November 1918 just as war ended. His condition did not improve and he died on 25th November, aged 23. He is buried at Terlincthun British Cemetery, Wimille, which is north of Boulogne.
Fred wrote a letter home on Armistice Day, the 11th day of the 11th month, 1918 - the following is an extract:
My Dearest Mother, Just these few lines to you both to let you see I have managed to come through this dreadful war. Thank God for keeping me safe and sound so to be a great son to my
Dear Mother when I see home again which I think will not be long now. I will then be a free man again in life. You could never know how the news came to us. We could see it was coming soon and last night the lights and the people were going mad. You may guess we made things lively celebrating all night. Then in the morning the Major came to tell us we had finished the war. We are happy to know we are safe as we came out of the front line only a few days ago and have no more war to face now. I think I shall stand a good chance in getting away soon as some of the boys went to a meeting. They told me I will be amongst the first to go back as I have a job to go to. Those men who have not got a job have to stay till the Army can find them one. It will not be long now before I see my Dear Home for good and have a happy time. Now my Dearest .Mother I must close, all my love to both of you from your ever loving son Fred.Cheer up I am quite happy now the war is ended.