Ambrose DRIVER and the day Sussex died

17 Aug

Today I was doing some sorting out of the photos I took last May over at Framfield, Sussex. I have been meaning to get all the gravestones sorted out, transcribed and where possible integrated into Family Historian. As I was separating the gravestone photos from general photos of the church and churchyard I took a closer look at the war memorial inside the church.

Framfield War Memorial (inside the church)

Framfield War Memorial (inside the church)

I hadn’t really paid much attention to it before, I think I checked for HEMSLEYs when I was there but there weren’t any, as I looked down the list I noticed the name Ambrose DRIVER. That name rang a bell and I was certain he was in my family tree.

I checked my family tree and sure enough I had an Ambrose DRIVER, my 2x great uncle. I checked the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website and there he was at the top of the search results, and he was listed as the son of Thomas and Ellen DRIVER my 2x great grandparents. No doubt about it.

I did the usual searches on ancestry.co.uk for a medal roll index card, service record and Soldiers Died in the Great War, picking up bits and pieces here and there. There appears to be no surviving service record (which is not surprising) but I now have a basic outline of his details, and perhaps I can find more with a search in the local newspapers. The Royal Sussex Living History Group website even has a photo of Ambrose’s gravestone at Bethune Town Cemetery, which is not really a substitute for going and visiting in person, but is probably the closest I will get for the time being.

Not only that but I also have a pretty good idea of the action in which he was wounded and which lead to his death. It appears the he would have been part of the Battle of the Boar’s Head on the 30th June 1916. This little known action has been overshadowed by the Battle of the Somme, but it became known as “the day Sussex died” because of the huge loss of life amongst the three battalions of the Royal Sussex Regiment that were involved.

His battalion’s war diary is available online through The National Archives DocumentsOnline service, so I will probably be downloading a copy of that shortly, as well as checking in my local library for the regimental history.

In those famous words, whether it is in a church on Armistice Day, at a cemetery in some foreign field, in our hearts or in our family trees, “we will remember them”.

Framfield War Memorial

Framfield War Memorial

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