8th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment

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The 8th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment were formed at Chichester in September 1914 as part of Kitchener ‘s Army. Initial volunteers were from all over Sussex , and tended to be older men in the their late 20s and early to mid 30s. The battalion was under strength when it went to Colchester in October 1914 to join 54th Brigade, 18th (Eastern) Division. Further recruits were drawn from the London area at this time, and it was several months before uniforms and equipment arrived. On 4th February 1915 it became the Pioneer Battalion of 18th (Eastern) Division, a role it would keep for the remainder of the war. In May 1915 the battalion moved to Salisbury Plain, and then crossed to France on 24th July 1915.

The 8th Battalion moved to the Somme front, and took over trenches in the Mametz-Montauban sector. Their first casualty was Private James Chandler, from West Wittering , who died of wounds on 25th August 1915, during the first tour of the trenches. They remained in this quiet sector until the Battle of the Somme , taking part in the attack on Montauban on 1st July 1916. During the subsequent fighting for Trônes Wood on 13th/14th July, they played a prominent role in the battle. They also fought in the capture of Thiepval on 26th September, and at Regina Trench in October.

The battalion stayed on the Somme until the Spring of 1917, when it moved to the Arras front. Here it took part in the fighting on the Hindenburg Line at Héninel, and at Chérisy on 3rd May. It then moved to Flanders , to take part in the Third Battle of Ypres, and fought along the Menin Road.

In the Spring of 1918 the battalion returned to the Somme front, and took part in the March 1918 offensive. It remained in the line opposite Albert until the summer, when on 8th August 1918 it took part in the attack along the Morlancourt Ridge. Fighting its way back across the old Somme battlefields, it was once again in action at Trônes Wood in late August, where it fought the Prussian Guard. Reaching the Hindenburg Line in September, it took part in the attack on the St Quentin Canal, and fought its final battle on the Sambre Canal on 4th November 1918.

On 11th November 1918 the battalion was near Le Cateau. Here the battalion remained until the New Year, all ranks being given educational and recreation training, and were employed on salvage work on the old battlefields. Demobilisation began on 10th December 1918, and the battalion was disbanded in March 1919.

During the war 15 officers and 215 men had died on active service with the 8th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment.

BATTLE HONOURS

 1916

BATTLES OF THE SOMME

1 – 8 July                     Battle of Albert
14-17 July                    Battle of Bazentin Ridge
14 July                         Capture of Trones Wood
19-21 July                    Battle of Delville Wood
26-28 September         Battle of Thiepval Ridge
1-5 October, 17
October – 11
November                    Battle of the Ancre Heights
30 September –
5 October                    Capture of the Schwaben Redoubt
21 October                  Capture of Regina Trench
13-18 November         Battle of the Ancre

1917

 16 January –
13 March                     Operations on the Ancre
17-18 February            Miraumont [Boom Ravine]
10 March                     Capture of Irles
14-20 March                German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line

BATTLES OF ARRAS

3 & 4 May                   Third Battle of the Scarpe

BATTLES OF YPRES

31 July                         Battle of Pilckem Ridge
10 August                    Inverness Copse
16 & 17 August            Battle of Langemarck
12 October                  First Battle of Passchendaele
22 October                  Capture of Poelcappelle
5 – 10 November         Second Battle of Passchendaele

1918

 FIRST BATTLES OF THE SOMME

21-23 March                Battle of St Quentin
4 April                          Battle of the Avre
25 & 25 April               Villers-Bretonneux

THE ADVANCE TO VICTORY

 8 & 9 August                Battle of Amiens

SECOND BATTLES OF THE SOMME

21-23 August               Battle of Albert
23 August                     Capture of Usna and Tara Hills
27 August                     Capture of Trones Wood
31 August –
3 September                 Second Battle of Bapaume

BATTLES OF THE HINDENBURG LINE

18 September               Battle of Epéphy
29 September –
1 October                    Battle of the St Quentin Canal

THE FINAL ADVANCE IN PICARDY

20-26 October             Battle of the Selle
4 November                 Battle of the Sambre

1/5th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment (Cinque Ports)

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  The 5th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment (Cinque Ports) was formed on 1st April 1908 as part of the newly constituted Territorial Force (TF). At this time the battalion had eight locally recruited companies, all of whom had their own Drill Halls:

A Company: Hastings
B Company: Battle
C Company: Ticehurst
D Company: Lewes
E Company: Rye
F Company: Uckfield
G Company: Crowborough
H Company: Ore

  Recruits joined for periods of four years, attending regular meetings at the local company Drill Hall, and the battalion as a whole had an annual Summer camp (usually in August).

  Regimental numbers began at ‘1’ when the 5th Battalion was formed in 1908, and each man either had a ‘TF’ or ‘5’ prefix to his number. This was usually included in official records, such as muster rolls and casualty lists, and often later engraved on his war medals.

  When the war broke out in August 1914 the battalion was assembled and became Army Troops in the Home Counties Division TF. In early 1915 it was posted for duty at the Tower of London. About this time several composite battalions of the Cinque Ports were formed. The original battalion was thereafter known as the 1/5th, with two reserve units formed later – the 2/5th and 3/5th. These supplied drafts to the 1/5th Bn in France, and later personnel to several battalions of the regiment.

  In 1914 the 1/5th were also re-organised into four companies as follows:

A (Hastings) & E (Rye) became A Company

B (Battle) & F (Uckfield) became B Company

C (Ticehurst) & D (Lewes) became C Company

G (Crowborough) & H (Ore) became D Company

  The battalion crossed to France on SS ‘Pancras’ and landed at Boulogne on 18th February 1915.

  The 1/5th were commanded by Lieutenant Colonel F.G.Langham VD from 1914 until 1917.

  On 21st February it was posted to the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, in which the 2nd Bn Royal Sussex Regiment was also serving. On 20th August 1915 it became the Pioneer Battalion of the 48th (South Midland) Division and joined them on the Somme at Hebuterne.

  As pioneers each men wore a brass badge on each collar in the form of a crossed rifle and pick.

  In 1916 the son of the commanding officer, Captain C.R.Langham (killed in 1917), formed a divisional Scouts and Snipers section known as ‘Langham’s Scouts’, from personnel in the 1/5th Bn. It served with the division for the rest of the war.

  In 1917 each man still serving with the battalion was given a new regimental number as part of an overall re-numbering in the Territorial Force. These numbers were between 240001 and 265000.

  In November 1917 the battalion went with the division to Italy, and in November 1918 was in Austria, east of Trent. It returned to England in 1919.

Battles and Engagements

1915

Battle of Aubers Ridge: 9 May 

1916

Battles of the Somme

Battle of Bazentin Ridge: 15-17 July
Capture of Ovillers: 17 July
Battle of Pozičres Ridge: 23-27 July & 13-28 August
Battle of the Ancre Heights: 3 -11 November
Battle of the Ancre: 13-18 November

1917

German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line: 14 March – 5 April
Occupation of Peronne: 18 March

Battle of Ypres (Third Ypres)

Battle of Langemarck: 16-18 August
Battle of Polygon Wood: 28 September – 3 October
Battle of Broodseinde: 4 October
Battle of Poelcapelle: 9 October

1918

Battle of the Piave

The Fighting on the Asiago Plateau: 15 – 16 June

Battle of Vittorio Veneto

The Fighting in the Val d’Assa: 1 – 4 November