War Memorial

The War Memorial in Brightling is still a focus for the Remembrance Sunday services, come rain or shine, when the names carved in the stone on the plinth for WW1 and on the additional brass plaque for WW2 are read out every year.  Here is more about the people behind these names.


To keep in mind those who from this place gave their lives in the Great War

Private the 13th Battalion the Inniskilling Fusiliers 40th Division.  Killed on 31st July 1918 when he was 22 years of age.  Before the war he worked on his father’s farm, Scragoak in Brightling.  Parents were George and Mercy Allcorn.  Buried in Borre British Cemetery.

BAKER, John Frederick
Corporal in 2nd Battalion The Royal Sussex Regiment 1st Division.  Killed at Loos on 25th September 1915 aged 21.  His body was never formally identified.  Fred, as he was commonly known, at one time lived at Socknersh Manor Farm which was then owned by Alfred Lawley (who built many of the railways in Africa).  Fred’s father  was farm bailiff to Mr. Lawley.  Fred was one of 4 boys born to Ebenezer and Mary;  one became a navy stoker and the others went into the army.  Commemorated on the Loos Memorial.

The 4 Baker brothers

BOOTH, Charles Frederick
Private 2nd Battalion The Royal Sussex Regiment 1st Division killed at Richebourg 9th May 1915 aged 18.  He was the son of Frederick and Alice Booth of Manor Cottage, Brightling, since demolished in the 2nd World War by a flying bomb.  Buried in Cabaret Rouge British Cemetery.

BRETT, William
Ex regular soldier. Sergeant 12th Battalion The Royal Sussex Regiment 39th Division.  Killed at Railway Wood near Ypres on 3rd February 1917 aged 37.  He was never positively identified but is probably buried in Vlamertinghe Military Cemetery.  He was married to Florence Jane and had two children, Ivy and William.  His parents, William and Elizabeth Brett lived at St. Leonards.

BUSS, Jesse
Private 7th Battalion the Royal Sussex Regiment, 12th Division.  Killed near Loos on 2nd March 1916 aged 18.  He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Buss who lived at 3 Longhouses.  Charles (the father) was a carpenter and Sawyer on the Estate.  It would appear that Jesse’s father married for a second time whilst Jesse was quite young as  the 1901 Census shows that he was married to Lilpah Buss still living at Longhouses with their children Charles 11, Amy 9, Ellen 7, and Jesse aged 3. He is buried in Quarry Cemetery, Vermelle.

On Private Jesse Buss’s headstone

CARLEY, Leonard Montague
Private 1/5th Battalion The Royal Sussex Regiment.  Killed at Richebourg 9th May 1915 aged 19.  He was one of ten children born to George and Ruth Carley, but Leonard and his brother Bob were the only two who went off to war.  George (Leonard’s father) was a Blacksmith living at The Forge, also farming the fields around Oxleys Green.  Bob, who survived the war came back to help with the running of the businesses.  Leonard, on leaving school, took a job as Grocer and Draper Apprentice at what is now called the Old Post Office, but was then obviously a general store as, over the door in this photo is written “Licensed to Retail tea, Coffee, Wines and Patent Medicines”.  Other words over the door cannot be seen, but they were also, apparently, Drapers

Leonard outside his place of work before the war

Mark Bridge has provided a photo of the Post Office contemporary to the above photo.  The Post Office may have moved to the Old Post Office site some time in the 1920s when the letter box was installed bearing George V.

Brightling Post Office 1915

Janet Goodsell (nee Carley) who would have been a niece to Leonard, still had an original letter from Leonard  Carley which he sent from the trenches (see extract below).  He was with his brother Bob and they write through the British Expeditionary Forces on 15th April.  24 days after writing this letter Leonard was dead, but brother Bob survived to return home.

original letter pages 1 and 4 for pages 2-3 see next image

pages 2 and 3

The translation exactly as was written:

Just a few lines to say that I got your nice letter quite safely which we were both very pleased to get.  I was in the Trenchs when I got it.  I was just eating a hard Biscuit and Bully Beef.  But I very soon left off eating when I got your letter.  We had five days in the Trenchs this time.  It was five days too long for me.  I never washed or shaved so you can guess that I looked alright when I came out.    It is awful out here, there are shells bursting over your heads and bullets flying about.  You have to keep your heads low or else you would very soon get something you didn’t want.  But we serve them the same, worse for all I know.  If we don’t hit one of them they wave a wash-out, the bounders.  I should like for you to come out here and see the villages that are knocked to atoms.  I shall be glad to get back again but I don’t think the war will last a lot longer.  I think June or July will see it over and hope so any way.  Sorry to hear that Dolph’s rupture has come down again.  You can tell him from me that if he can get out of coming out here, he had better do so as it is something awful.  I have not received your parcel yet.  I keep looking for it.  Will you send me some cake please.  Bob’s number is 2501.  Bill Dale and U.D. wish to be remembered to you all.  Remember me to all.  Now I must close with much love from your Len and Bob

A note was added in Bob’s handwriting which said I will write as often as I can.  Write soon, goodbye mother.

CHANDLER, Frederick James
Private 2/8th Battalion The Lancashire Fusiliers 66th Division.  He was the last person from Brightling to die in WW1 on 30th September 1918, only 43 days before signing of the Armistice.  He was  wounded and taken prisoner on 21st March 1918, held in captivity in Bertry where he died.   His brother William had been killed earlier in the war (see next entry). Buried in Le Quesnoy Communal Cemetery Extension.

Frederick Chandler’s POW card

Private 8th Battalion the East Surrey Regiment 18th Division.  He died of  wounds in the base hospital at Rouen on 23rd November 1916 aged 28.  Before the war he was assistant gamekeeper to his father (also William).  He lived at The Kennels, Bowdens Cottages (now called Divers) at the top of New House Farm driveway. with his father and mother Ellen.   It is believed that they worked on the Scalands Estate owned by the Leigh-Smiths, with their connection to Barbara Bodichon and Ben Leigh-Smith, the explorer, both of whom are commemorated in the Brightling churchyard.    William would have been a popular volunteer in the selection process, knowing how to handle a gun.

Chandler Snr. outside The Kennels, with his dog

CROFT, Gilbert
Private 12th Battalion, The Royal Sussex Regiment, 39th Division.  Died on 30th June 1916 aged 25.  He was killed in action at Rue de Bois in Pays de Calais.  His twin brother, Victor Albert , was to survive him into 1918 and his other brother, Herbert nearly another year.  These 3 losses were an enormous burden for his parents after the war was over.  Gilbert worked as a general labourer .  He is buried in St. Vaast Post British Cemetery.

CROFT, Herbert
Lance Corporal 16th Battalion The Royal Sussex Regiment 74 (Yeomanry) Division.  Died on 28th January 1917 (the first death from Brightling in that year) aged 34.  Herbert was a farmer, following in his father Herbert’s footsteps, but whereas Herbert Senior was responsible for playing the barrel organ in Brightling Church, Herbert Junior would not be able to follow.   Before the war Herbert Jnr. was Secretary of the Brightling Men’s Club.  He was posted to Egypt where he had the chance to see real Pyramids not just Brightling’s own, but otherwise he died in a hostile territory in Port Said.   He is buried in Port Said War Memorial Cemetery.

1905 extract from Parish Magazine re Men’s Club

Mark Bridge has submitted a photograph showing Herbert is remembered in our churchyard.
The memorial is to other Croft family members, but third dedication down says
“Also our brother Herbert, Sx. Yeo. who died of wounds received in Palestine on November 28th 1917 aged 34 years”.    You should be able to identify where the memorial is from the photograph: churchyard road side wall, just down from the back gate.

CROFT, Victor Albert
Private 11th Battalion, The Royal Sussex Regiment 39th Division.  Killed in action on 29th May 1918.  Before the war he had been a bricklayer and Estate labourer.  He is buried in Wytschaete Miliary Cemetery, Belgium.

Private 20313 No. 58 Company, The Machine Gun Corps.  Killed in action at Ypres on 1st August 1917 aged 33.  His brother, Edward had been killed under 2 months before.  Harry was stockman on his father’s farm before the war and his parents Harry and Matilda of Barn House must have struggled without Harry’s and Edward’s support.

CROUCH, Edward
Private 27108 12th Battalion The Royal Fusiliers 24th Division.  Killed at Messines on 10th June 1917 aged 27.    Brother to Harry, as mentioned above.  He was the last fatality from Brightling in 1917.  He is commemorated on The Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Belgium.

CROUCH, William Henry
Private SD.1877 w 11th Battalion, The Royal Sussex Regiment 39th Division.  Not able to trace any definite  relationship to the above two brothers.  Died on 21st March 1918 aged 33.  He was married to Florence Kate Crouch (27).  William was the son of Stephen and Elizabeth Crouch.  He was a stone digger before the war, as was his father.  He is commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial.

DAVIDSON, MC. Edward Gordon
Captain, 19th (Queen Alexandra’s Own Royal ) Hussars.   Edward was injured on 30th March 1918 and died of his wounds in a base hospital at Rouen on 2nd April 1918 aged 27.  He was born to Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Davidson in India.  His mother later remarried when her husband Alfred died, becoming Mrs. C.M. Scott and lived between Kent House, Kensington and Heathfield Park.  He is buried in St. Sever Cemetery, Rouen.

FRIEND, Edward Percy
Private G.7738, 98th Battalion, The Royal West Kent Regiment.  He died on 21st March 1918 aged 34, during the March retreat.  He was born in January 1885, in Brightling, to James (who was a dairyman) and Jane Friend. His paternal grandmother lived with them as an invalid.  Edward became Groom at Mountfield Court Stables where he lived in Batchelor quarters with another groom.  James, Edward’s father, had died back in 1898 so it was left to his mother Jane to watch as he enlisted in Maidstone in the Queen’s Own and went off to fight.  Edward left behind his two sisters and a brother, Albert, nine years older than he, who lived in Dallington.  Edward is commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial.

Mountfield Court

HIBBERT, Henry James
Private F24565, 7th Battalion the Royal West Surrey Regiment, 18th Division.    He was born in New Cross, Kent and enlisted in Hastings.  He died fighting in France on 28th September 1916.  We cannot find any trace of why he is included on the Brightling War Memorial, but perhaps in time we will.

JENNER, Douglas
Private S2326 Reservist, 7th Battalion The Royal Sussex Regiment.  12th Division.  He was the last casualty to be recorded in Brightling for the year of 1915, killed in action,  near Hulluch on 4th October.  He appears to have been a house boy in domestic service, but to whom we cannot ascertain.  Here was born in Bannisters Cottage Brightling, originally a pair of cottages, but now knocked into one house.  Later, his parents Harry and Caroline Jenner, moved to Boreham Street.

Bannisters Cottage

MOORE, MC, John Rushton
Major, 71st Company The Machine Gun Corps. attached from the Cheshire Regiment.   He was born on 7th March 1893 in Marylebone to George Henry Moore J.P. and Male Adamson,  His mother Male gives us the Sussex connection in that he father bought Vine Hall, re-named it Rushton Park , later the home of Lord Ashton and then, as we now know it, Vine Hall school.  John’s parents were well-off and sent him to Radley College in Berkshire.  As a student he lodged with an Irish Priest, Henry Watter, at St. James Vicarage in Douglas Road, Islington.  He joined the Machine Gun Corps, considered the Queen of the Battlefield.  John was twice mentioned in despatches and had been awarded the Military Cross whilst attached to the Cheshire Regiment.  He was killed, aged 24, at Lagnicourt Marcel during the March Retreat on 21st March 1918.  John is also included in the Sedlescombe Parish Church war memorial.    He is commemorated on the Arras Memorial.

MUDDLE, Joseph Frederick Richard
Private L.9250, 2nd Battalion, The Royal West Surrey Regiment 7th Division.  Joseph was the first person from Brightling to die in WW1 on 28th October 1914 aged 24.  There is mention in the Parish Magazine of 1902 of a J. Muddle aged 12, playing on the cricket team.  This would tie in with Joseph in terms of age, so Brightling probably lost a good cricketer.  His father, also Joseph, lived in Longhouses with his wife Kate.  They had several children.  Joseph was their second.  He was born in Robertsbridge and christened in Salehurst.  The family moved to Brightling when he was only 1, to Paddock Gate and then, later on to Long Houses.  Joseph enlisted in Hastings before the war, as a Regular soldier and records show he served in Africa.  It would seem from a postcard he sent to his younger brother Bob, that he also served some time in Gibraltar.  Being a regular soldier he was obviously the first to fight and he said for service on 4th October 19014.  Only 24 days later he was killed.  He died defending a position in the village of Ghellevett, east of Ypres.  The Germans swept through their inadequate earth bank protection and buried the British in their own defences.  Although  his body was never found the field, where he still lies in his unmarked grave, is known. He is also commemorated on the Menin gate Memorial, Ypres.

Joseph Muddle is between his two sisters at the back, whilst William is on the right next to his father.

MUDDLE, William Benjamin George
Private G14589 11th Battalion The Royal Sussex Regiment 39th Division.  He was killed in action on 2nd March 1917 aged 19.  He had survived his brother Joseph by nearly two and a half years.  Williams was born in 1897 and baptised in St. Thomas a Becket, Brightling.  He had left school to start work at 14, becoming a general farm labourer.  Having enlisted in 1916, about 2 years after his brother Joseph was killed, he was wounded in a forward observation post at Ypres and died some time during the night of the 2nd March.  He is buried in Railway Dugouts Cemetery in Belgium.

William Muddle in 1916

PELLING,  William Wickens
Private SD.2248, 12th Battalion The Royal Sussex Regiment 39th Division.  He was killed at the Rue de Bois on 30th June 1916.  His records have faded with time and, although we know he had an obituary in the Hastings Observer they have no record of the wording to offer to us.  He also appears on the Bexhill on Sea War Memorial and is commemorated on the Loos Memorial.

Private G.76, 78th Battalion The Royal Sussex Regiment 12th Division.  He died of his wounds on 7th July 1916 aged 24.  George was born in Mountfield to Franklin and Sarah Smissen.  Sarah came from Netherfield and George is commemorated on the memorial there, too.  Franklin, George’s father, worked as a general labourer at the Gypsum mine.  He is buried in Faubourg D’Amiens Cemetery, Arras.

Lance Corporal G1112, 7th Battalion The Royal Sussex Regiment 12th Division.  James’s father was a farmer at Warbleton and this is where James was born in 1881.  His mother Sally came from Brightling and records show that they later lived at Mud Wall, one of a pair of cottages at Long Reach Farm.  James joined the football team in Brightling.  The 1911 Census shows George as a Poulterer and, appeared to have worked with his older brother George some fo the time.  This same census shows George faming at Stonesdown and being in ‘chicken fattening’.  James’s father seems to have run a mixed farm as the war records later show James as being a stockman just before signing up to go to war.  He lost his life on 7th July 1916 at Ovillers not far from Thiepval British War Memorial.  He is included in Netherfield War Memorial and is buried in Albert Communal Cemetery Extension.

handwritten memorial inside St. Thomas a Becket

REMEMBRANCE 11th November 2018

The Armistice was signed one hundred years ago,
Far too late for some:  old age they’d never know.
It started with a Prayer and ended with a Cheer:
In between was mayhem and everlasting fear.
But for some that come from Brightling there was no future life;
All these men below died in this world-wide strife.

Joseph was from Long Houses, a cricketer, bowled “Out”
Charles, 18, from Manor Cottage, died without a shout.
Leonard left the village store and served another Line,
Fred knew Alfred Lawley and died before his time.
Douglas, too, ne’er did come back to Bannisters, his home,
And Jesse Buss from No. 3, too young his life to hone.
Gilbert grew up on a farm, but died in noise and strife,
Whilst William killed alongside, left no history nor a wife.
James who came from Mud Wall exchanged his football for a gun.
Henry did not know this place, but we’re glad he chose to come.
William from The Kennels took his Keeper’s expertise
And Henry left the Men’s Club for the desert with no trees.
William was married, but at Ypres he left this world,
Whilst another William, Muddle, to death nearby was hurled.
Then there was George aged 24, whose father worked the Mine.
Edward came from Barn House, but at Messines his name is but a line.
Brother Harry followed him;  at Ypres he joined the dead.
William was a stone digger, but his grave was dug instead.
Edward, groom, was valued in this war where horses came.
John won the M.C. medal;  war kills heroes just the same,
Including Edward, M.C. who died of wounds in France.
Then Victor joined his brothers in this dreadful war of chance.
George from Scragoak died at only 22. Just as war was due to cease
Poor Frederick Chandler aged 19, died 43 days to peace.

Battle Observer 16/11/2018

                                                                           WORLD WAR 2

Also in memory of the four men from this Parish who gave their lives in the war 1939-1945


Lieutenant 288055 British Army Royal Engineers died 14th August 1944 aged 25.  Commemorated on Banneville-la-Campagne War Cemetery, Calvados, Roll of Honour with no known grave, although one is dedicated to him  in Plot III, Row C, grave 2..  Son of  Alfred Sydney and Dora Annie Mary Harvey of Wallcrouch, Sussex. Born 6th March 1919 in Lewisham Registration District, London.  He was a sheet metal works supervisor before the war, living at 8, Gardeners Cottage, Saint German Place, Kidbrook, Greenwich, London.  His will was probated in Llandudno on 8th August, leaving £162,038 18s 1d. to William Charles Brooks, Chartered Accountant and George Alfred Sydney Harvey, metal merchant.

Does anyone have any further information than this for Donald, particularly why he appears on our war memorial?

Aircraft man 1st Class  1242343  84 Squadron, RAF Volunteer Reserve.,  died in captivity  in a  Japanese POW camp in Sumatra on 26th July 1945 aged 39.  Born  28th October 1905, birth registered in the Hailsham Registration District.  In the 1911 census he was aged 5, listed as born Infield, Sussex, son of Frederick and Elizabeth Pont, resident Poplar Cottage, Salehurst.  Before the war he was a Plaster Maker, Gypsum, married to Audrey Florence (nee Russell from Robertsbridge) and living at No. 3 Park View, Sedlescombe.  He is buried in Jakarta War Cemetery, Indonesia Plot 4, Row E. Grave 14.


Stoker 2nd Class C/KX 103572, H.M.S. Pembroke II, Royal Navy.    Died at sea on 8th August 1940 aged 20.  Born 19th June 1920 in Lamberhurst, Kent. He was a gardener, unmarried, resident with his parents, Alfred and Florence Street at Sedlescombe.  Buried in Greenock Cemetery, Renfrewshire, Scotland, Queen Victoria Ground, Section J, Collective grave 21.

Extract from Sussex Agricultural Express – Friday 8th August 1941, Page 8:
STREET – in loving memory of our lad, Jack Street, Stoker, Royal Navy, killed in action August 8th 1940.  Always remembered by Mum, Ivy, his brothers and Alf.

Lieutenant 64565 Royal Armoured Corps, 9th Queen’s Royal Lancers.  Died in France on 23rd May 1940 aged 25.     Thomas  (or Tommy as he was known) was born in Wakefield,  the son of Thomas Percy and Constance Mabel Tew of  Brightling Park.  Here he is on his pony in 1925

On leaving Eton school he was commissioned into the 9th Queen’s Royal Lancers.  The regiment was sent to France on May 1940 as part of the Royal Armoured Corps.  He is buried in Evreux Communal Cemetery, Eure, France grave reference row B, grave 5.  Also commemorated on the Glencorse 9th Queen’s Royal Lancers War Memorial.

Tommy on his marriage to Rosemary Heale (later to become Rosemary Grissell, mother to Gardie and Henry)
Sussex Express May 31st 1940


Mr. Thomas Martin Percy Tew of the 9th Lancers, only son of Mr and Mrs. T.P. Tew of Brightling Park has been killed in action. Less than a month ago he was married at Chelsea Old Church to Miss Rosemary Hope Heale, only daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel R.J.W> Heale and step-daughter of Mrs. Heale of Silton House, Gillingham, Dorset.  His father who is one of the county’s leading public figures and landowners in East Sussex, is vice-chairman of Battle Rural District Council and acting chairman of the Battle Bench


MEMORIAL SERVICE – at the Parish Church on Tuesday, a service was held in memory of Lieutenant Thomas Martin Percy Tew of the 9th Lancers who was killed in action.  Lieutenant Tew was the only son of Mr. and Mrs. T.P. Tew of Brightling Park and he was married only a few weeks ago.  The service which was conducted by the Rev. A.H. Huxtable (rector) was attended by members of the family, friends and workers at the estate.

Photos and clipping relating to Tommy Tew supplied by Gardie Grissell of Brightling Park

If anyone does have any more information on any of the names above, please do leave details in the comments box below.