Remembering Worthing’s fallen

Worthing War Memorial DM154259a

Worthing War Memorial DM154259a

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The Worthing men who died in April 1916 while serving their country in the First World War.

7312 Lance Corporal Walter Sidney Fleet

Coldstream Guards 2nd Battalion

Walter Fleet was born in the St Luke’s District of Brighton in 1889.

He was the second son in a large family, born to Charles, a gardener, and Emma Fleet.

At the age of 17, after a spell as a railway employee, Walter enlisted into the army at Eastbourne, and there is conflicting evidence as to which regiment he joined.

British Army Service Records show that it was the Royal Sussex Regiment, attestation date January 21, 1907, number 9945.

However, the Roll of Honour indicates that it was the Coldstream Guards.

After serving his time, Walter passed into the Army Reserves and worked for a time in the West Sussex Police Force, stationed at Horsham.

There is no doubt that at the start of the Great War he joined the Coldstream Guards, 2nd Battalion.

Walter’s battalion was part of the British Expeditionary Force, embarking for France on August 12, 1914.

On arrival at Le Havre they marched to the Belgian frontier.

Walter was in action at the Battle of Mons and the Retreat.

Later his battalion crossed the Aisne and moved to the Flanders battlefield.

He also fought in the 1st Battle of Ypres, enduring determined German assaults and terrible weather conditions which turned the Salient into a quagmire.

Walter was killed on April 16, 1916, and is buried in the Potijze Burial Ground Cemetery, north east of Ypres.

He is remembered on the war memorial at Horsham Police Station.

Walter left a young widow, Sarah Jane (née Mobsby), who he had married on the September 6, 1915, at St Luke`s Church Brighton.

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S/10656 Private Percy Ayling Barnes

Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) 2nd Battalion

Percy Barnes was born in 1890 in the Sussex village of Ditchling where his father George was a baker.

George and his wife Jane had six children, of which Percy was the fourth child.

The family moved to Worthing sometime before 1901, living first in Broadwater Street, and later at 21 Teville Road.

In the 1911 census Percy was employed as a clerk.

In later years his parents moved to 174 Tarring Road.

On October 7, 1915, Percy enlisted at Worthing into the 8th Cameron Highlanders.

Later he transferred to the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Highlanders, the Black Watch.

In December 1915, Percy’s battalion was sent to Mesopotamia, landing at Basra on December 31.

The town of Kut-al-Amara was under siege which lasted into April 1916.

The British Empire’s forces of about 30,000 soldiers made several unsuccessful attempts to recapture the town, the last on April 22 which resulted in 1,200 casualties.

It was in this battle that Percy was killed.

In a humiliating defeat the allies surrendered on April 29.

Many prisoners were taken by the Turks and there were many deaths from disease or from ill-treatment in captivity.

Percy is buried in the Amara War Cemetery which is situated slightly to the east of the town.

Sadly it was destroyed in the Iraq War but it will be rebuilt by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission when circumstances permit.

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Second Lieutenant Charles Philip Lawrence

Indian Army Reserve of Officers attached 27th Punjabi Regiment

Details about Charles Lawrence’s birth and early life have been difficult to find.

There was a Charles Philip Lawrence born in Selsey in the registration district of Westhampnett, in the June quarter of 1890, which could be him.

His parents were Charles Lawrence, a mate on a dredger, and his wife Sarah.

He had a younger sister Edith and in 1901 the family was living at 106 Hampshire Street, Portsmouth.

Ten years later Charles, aged 23, had joined the military and travelled to Ceylon where he enlisted as a Private in the Ceylon Planters’ Rifles.

Later he joined the Indian Army Reserves, attached to the 27th Punjabi Regiment.

After the outbreak of war he was posted to Egypt on November 17, 1914.

He died of wounds received in action in Mesopotamia on April 29, 1916.

Charles is commemorated on the war memorial at Basra, Iraq, and also on the war memorial at Broadwater Church.

His mother was living at “La Casita”, Grove Road, Broadwater, at the time of her son’s death.

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