Tag Archives: sayers common

Remembrance: Ernest Arthur TROWER (part four)

11 Nov

Ernest Arthur TROWER (small)This handsome looking young man is my 2x great-uncle Ernest Arthur TROWER. He was the son of Ebenezer and Annie TROWER, who was born in Sayers Common, Sussex in 1895. He was baptised in the parish church at Sayers Common on the 13th October 1895. His life was tragically cut short when he was killed in action in France on the 23rd September 1917, aged 22 years old.

To my knowledge there are three memorials that record the name of Ernest Arthur TROWER and the sacrifice he made. Two of these I have not seen in person and one I have visited and photographed several times.

The first and most obvious is the memorial that I have already mentioned at Tyne Cot Cemetery in Belgium. Maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Ernest is listed among the thousands of men with no known grave. It is my goal to visit Tyne Cot in the next couple of years and pay my respects, maybe even next year.

Secondly there is the war memorial inside Sayers Common parish church. I have not yet seen the memorial, but according to the Roll of Honour website it is a wooden plaque inside the church with the names of six men who died in the First World War and seven who died in the Second World War.

Interestingly of the six men who died in the First World War who are commemorated there, I have connections to at least two of them, and probably a third. As well as Ernest there is also William James GASSON another 2x great uncle, and Albert Edward SEYMOUR would probably have been the brother-in-law of my 2x great aunt Edith Ellen TROWER had he still been alive in 1923 when Edith married.

The third memorial is also in Sayers Common, Ernest is remembered on the gravestone of his sister Mabel Annie TROWER, who is buried in Sayers Common churchyard. I have previously featured this photo as a Tombstone Tuesday post.

The gravestone of Mabel Annie TROWER and Ernest Arthur TROWER

The gravestone of Mabel Annie TROWER and Ernest Arthur TROWER

There is of course a fourth place where he is remembered, and that is in my family history. So long as my research survives the memory of Ernest Arthur TROWER and his sacrifice will also survive. Hopefully now that these four posts are out on the internet the life of Ernest will never be forgotten.

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Remembrance: Ernest Arthur TROWER (part three)

10 Nov

Ernest Arthur TROWER (small)This handsome looking young man is my 2x great-uncle Ernest Arthur TROWER. He was the son of Ebenezer and Annie TROWER, who was born in Sayers Common, Sussex in 1895. He was baptised in the parish church at Sayers Common on the 13th October 1895. His life was tragically cut short when he was killed in action in France on the 23rd September 1917, aged 22 years old.

With such a shortage of official information on the military service of Ernest I had to seek the smallest of clues wherever I could find them, including any surviving family documents. Fortunately there were two items which provided further information, which may seem quite trivial, but anything might help in the search to learn more.

The first is the picture at the top left of this post. The front of the photo gives us some collaborating evidence about his regiment, the badge of his left shoulder (you won’t be able to make it out even if you click on the photo to enlarge it, you’ll just have to take my word for it) reads CYCLIST. In this case however the back of the photo is more helpful. Although the photo was actually printed with a postcard back, it was obviously never used as such.

Ernest Arthur TROWER (reverse)

I suspect the handwriting is that of Ernest’s brother Percy, and the information contained matches with what is already known from other records, with the exception of one piece which doesn’t appear to be recorded elsewhere. The item in question is the fact that Ernest was in ‘C’ Company. This may seem trivial, but from reading the battalion war diary it is clear that the different companies were engaged in different activities on the 23rd September 1917 when Ernest was killed.

Another possible avenue of research comes from the details on the left hand edge of the card. It may be worth trying to find out if any records survive from the photographer, W. Dennis Moss of Cirencester, possibly (but very unlikely) some of his records may have survived and by checking the number 2492 I might be able to find out when Ernest was in Cirencester getting his photo taken.

The second piece of evidence is another postcard, this was sent by Ernest to his sister Mabel. Given that the subject of the card is a view of the village of Chiseldon, and although the postmark is not complete it was probably sent from Chiseldon Camp in Wiltshire. Fortunately the date on the postmark is clearer, 22nd October 1916. Given that the Army Cyclist Corps trained at Chiseldon Camp, it seems quite likely that Ernest was still in training on the 22nd October 1916.

Chiseldon (back)

The message itself reads: Dearest Mabel. Thanks for letter, sorry you could not get home I had a grand time, excuse p. card but have got behind with letter writing, so will write when I get time, they are very well at home. Edie got off all the time I was home with love. From Ernest. Edie was another sister, and home was presumably the family home at Sayers Common, Sussex.

So I have a couple of other clues, not much to go on, but at least I know that Ernest was still in England on the 22nd October 1916, and this may help identify when he actually joined the Durham Light Infantry over in France or Belgium.

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Remembrance: Ernest Arthur TROWER (part two)

9 Nov

Ernest Arthur TROWER (small)This handsome looking young man is my 2x great-uncle Ernest Arthur TROWER. He was the son of Ebenezer and Annie TROWER, who was born in Sayers Common, Sussex in 1895. He was baptised in the parish church at Sayers Common on the 13th October 1895. His life was tragically cut short when he was killed in action in France on the 23rd September 1917, aged 22 years old.

I have been able to find out precious little about Ernest’s military service. A couple of years before the British Army service records started to appear on Ancestry.co.uk I had already been up to the National Archives at Kew and searched the microfilms for Ernest, but had found nothing.

At the National Archives I was able to get a copy of his medal index card, which would later also turn up on Ancestry.co.uk, but that told me nothing more than I already knew from the inscription on the edge of his medals.

What little information I have comes from two sources, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Debt of Honour Register, and Soldiers Died in the Great War which at that time was only available online at Military-Genealogy.com but now it is also available on Ancestry.co.uk and findmypast.com.

These two sources confirmed that this man was my 2x great-uncle, but only gave me a few other details about his military service. He was a member of the 12th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry upon his death, but he had previously been in the Army Cyclist Corps (with the regimental number of 10572). He had enlisted at Hove, Sussex and had given Sayers Common, Sussex as his residence, so he was probably still living at home with his parents.

It confirmed that the date he died was the 23rd September 1917, and the place was “France and Flanders”. The CWGC site also told me he was commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the Missing, at Tyne Cot Cemetery near the town of Ypres in Belgium. Ernest is one of the thousands of men who have no known grave.

At the National Archives I was able to consult the war diaries of 12th Battalion Durham Light Infantry (WO 95/2182), and have since download a copy via their DocumentsOnline service. This sadly tells me very little about what happened on the 23rd September 1917. Between the 20th and 24th September the battalion was involved in an attack but the report of this attack fails to make any mention of the number of casualties.

It seems unlikely that I will ever find out what happened to Ernest, the best I can hope for is to learn more about the actions of the 12th Battalion from other sources and learn what took place, but I will be very lucky to find out anything on an individual level that is going to help me learn more about Ernest’s service.

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Remembrance: Ernest Arthur TROWER (part one)

8 Nov

Ernest Arthur TROWER (small)This handsome looking young man is my 2x great-uncle Ernest Arthur TROWER. He was the son of Ebenezer and Annie TROWER, who was born in Sayers Common, Sussex in 1895. He was baptised in the parish church at Sayers Common on the 13th October 1895. His life was tragically cut short when he was killed in action in France on the 23rd September 1917, aged 22 years old.

I first became aware of Ernest Arthur TROWER many years before my interest in family history began. Before family history and local history one of my interests was military history and militaria. My father encouraged this interest by giving me various items, some with family connections and some without.

One of these items was a memorial plaque for Ernest Arthur TROWER. Whilst I knew the significance of the memorial plaque I had very little concept of family history beyond first cousins, aunts and uncles, and grandparents. So I didn’t actually know who Ernest was and how he was related to me.

E A TROWER memorial plaque

As well as the memorial plaque I was also given the medals which Ernest had been awarded. These gave me the first clues to Ernest’s military service, inscribed on the edge of each medal is 52700 PTE. E. A. TROWER. DURH. L. I.

E A TROWER medals

I knew that the information was his service number, rank, name and regiment, but this was in the days before widespread internet access, in fact probably even before I had ever seen a computer in real life. I had no idea where I could find out more about Ernest, no idea of the existence of medal index cards, service records or any of the records and publications that I take for granted these days.

I knew DURH. L. I. was the Durham Light Infantry, which is probably why there is a Durham Light Infantry cap badge in my collection. The medals are not in brilliant condition, they have obviously been kept on display as the colour of the ribbons has faded quite a bit. I would imagine that they once formed part of display or shrine in memory of Ernest Arthur TROWER.

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Sussex Day 2009: Part 4 – Cobbs Mill to Ruckford Mill

20 Jun

Although I was familiar with both ends of the next stage of my Sussex Day walk, I had never actually walked between the two before. A footpath leads past the front of Cobbs Mill, and across the mill stream, and out into the countryside.

The mill itself has been recently restored, but it is sadly not open to the public (except on very rare occasions) because it is also a private house now, part of which is up for sale.

This was probably the most enjoyable and relaxed stretch of the whole walk, unfortunately it was quite short, probably about a mile and a half in length. What made the first section of this part of the walk so memorable was the fact that I was walking along the side of the mill stream which had once powered the watermill.

I followed the stream for about half a mile before the path left the side of the stream. The water was almost still, and the plants on the banks were beginning to take over. The stream buzzed with insects and the occasional bird. The highlight however was the sighting of a grass snake making it’s way across a small bridge, sadly it kept itself well hidden but I did manage to get one photo of it.

The path continued to an area north of Hurstpierpoint (near Hurstpierpoint College) known to me as Ruckford. This was home to my more recent GASSON roots, in fact very close to home, my grandparents lived here for a few years and my father was born here. Although there is another watermill here, there was no family connection with it and one would be hard pressed to recognise now.

It had been many years since I had been over here, we used to visit almost weekly when my great aunt lived here, my brother and I coming over to mow the grass. That seems so many years ago now.

The importance of viewing the enumerator’s summary books in the 1911 census

19 Jun

I wrote yesterday about the completion of the 1911 census and the availability of the enumerator’s summary books, and how I hoped they might help me solve a problem with regard to exact location of my 2x great grandmother Mary Ann GASSON’s home.

Today I would like to share another example from my own family history, which illustrates the importance and value of these summary books. This concerns another set of 2x great grandparents Ebenezer and Annie TROWER at Sayers Common, Sussex (I have just written about them over at part three of my Sussex Day walk).

Although I was pretty certain that I knew where the family were living at the time of the census, the householder’s page only gave the postal address as “Sayers Common Hurstpoint” (it probably should have read Hurstpierpoint or just Hurst, but I will forgive Ebenezer that little slip).

The enumerator’s summary page actually gives a different address, that of “Vicarage Cottage”, which is just what I was expecting. If I hadn’t already known where they were living just viewing the householder’s page would probably have left me no further forward.

So make sure you check the enumerator’s summary page, you never know what else you might pick up, especially as it doesn’t cost any more if you have already viewed the householder’s page.

Sussex Day 2009: Part 3 – Sayers Common to Cobbs Mill

19 Jun

There was little of genealogical interest in the centre of Sayers Common, my interests were further north-east. So apart from paying a visit to the the parish church and checking on condition of the three TROWER gravestones there I quickly moved on. From the church my Sussex Day walk saw me heading north along the main road before turning east onto Mill Lane.

One end of Mill Lane is now tangled up with the entrance and exit roads from the current London to Brighton road (the A23). A bridge takes Mill Lane across the A23 and just around the corner the character of the road changes completely as the noise of the traffic begins to fade and I was back in the countryside again.

A short distance down Mill Lane (about a quarter of a mile) is the junction with Langton Lane (coming north from Hurstpierpoint) and it is this spot that I like to think of as the epicentre of my TROWER roots in Sayers Common.

Standing at the end of Langton Lane I really felt like I was standing in the shadows of my ancestors. A few yards in front of me to my left was Vicarage Cottage, where my 2x great grandparents Ebenezer and Annie TROWER and their family (until they grew up and found places of their own) lived for around half a century.

To my right, hidden behind a tall hedgerow was Cobbs Mill, the watermill from which Mill Lane got it’s name, and which provided employment for my great grandfather Henry John TROWER and his brother Percy Ebenezer TROWER.

I had been here several times before, but had never had time to stop for long and consider the importance of this place in my family history. The ancestors that passed this way on a daily basis, perhaps on foot like me, or perhaps on a push bike, maybe even a horse and cart.

If I wound back the clock far enough I would see the children heading off towards the school in the village, their mother perhaps hanging the washing out to dry in the bright sunshine and father off to work in the vicarage garden. Fast-forward a few years and I would see the two youngest boys leave to fight in the First World War, and would share in the sadness when news reached home that one of them would not be returning.

There was so much family history here, so much happened so close to this spot, some of it happy, some of it sad, but all of it needs to be remembered and shared equally.

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