Ashburnham County Primary School
From the London Gazette
Education Department, Whitehall, November 14, 1874.
THE Lords of the Committee of the Privy Council on Education have issued orders this day for the compulsory formation of School Boards in the undermentioned United District:—
Ashburnham and Penhurst (parishes of Ashburnham and Penhurst) Sussex
(the village school, for both boys and girls, was established by the Earl of Ashburnham in 1866)
The Great War Roll of Honour
Edward Crawford Hobden (born 24th March 1899) lived at South Lodge with his parents and siblings. In 1915 he ran off and joined the Royal Fusiliers, seeing action at the Battle of Loos. A letter from his mother, pointing out his age, subsequently led to him being sent home! He returned a little while later serving with the Scottish Rifles (second row up, far right)
Men from Ashburnham & Penhurst Killed in Action
Walter James Hobday – private 24th Bn Victoria Rifles of Canada - died 16/6/1916
The Day Sussex Died
The Battle of Boars Head - 30th June 1916
On the Ashburnham war memorial is Francis Turner who was one of the 392 men of the Royal Sussex Regiment, Southdown Battalions, killed on the 30th June 1916 at the Battle of the Boar's Head. In addition, Hubert Winchester and Harry Hobday, both born in Ashburnham, were also killed on that day. They are remembered on the Warbleton war memorial.
The 11th, 12th and 13th (Southdown) Battalions were raised by Claude Lowther MP of Herstmonceux Castle in September 1914, along the lines of the 'Pals Battalions', with companies formed of Eastbourne men, Hailsham men, Herstmonceux men, etc (each battalion had four companies with about 200 men in each company). Training commenced immediately at Cooden camp, continuing until May 1915 when the battalions moved to Detling then Aldershot then Witley Camp for further training. Finally on 4th March 1916 the Battalions sailed out of Southampton to Le Havre in France.
From Le Havre they were taken by train to Steenebeck Station and then marched onwards, eventually settling at Fleurbaix on the 12th March. The first casualty for the Southdowns happened on that day, David Thomas Dunk from Bexhill, who was killed by a sniper whilst entering the trenches.
The battalions spent the next month alternating time in the trenches, with time at billets, before being moved to the front line at Givenchy for a new cycle of fighting/resting. On the 9th May the battalions moved to Festubert and subsequently Cuinchy. By mid-June the battalions were moved to Richebourg St Vaast, the sector containing the Boar's Head.
A major, hopefully decisive, offensive was planned for the Somme on the 1st July 1916 so, to distract the enemy and give the idea that the main push was to be at Boar's Head, a diversionary action was set for the 30th June.
The 12th and 13th Battalions were moved into the front line for the attack, with the 11th Battalion supplying “fetch and carry” parties. Between 1,800 and 2,500 men went over the top from these battalions – 392 were killed, another 723 were wounded. The German front line was taken and held for 4 hours, the deeper support line for only half an hour. A heavy artillery barrage prevented reinforcements and supplies from getting through and the Sussex men had to withdraw. Despite the heavy losses, the distraction was considered a success – without it, the first day of the Battle of the Somme would have been an even darker day than it turned out to be.
Locally, the action had a huge impact - 9 men from Bexhill were killed on the 30th June 1916 or from wounds a few days later; 4 men died from Hailsham; 4 men died from Herstmonceux; 3 from Ashburnham; 2 from Brightling; 2 from Burwash; 1 from Battle; 1 from Burwash Common; 1 from Catsfield; 1 from Crowhurst; 1 from Heathfield; 1 from Netherfield. The Ashburnham postman, Arthur John (Jack) Miller was seriously wounded in his left arm and leg. After a long recovery, he was sent back to France and was killed at the Battle of Amiens in August 1918.
L/Cpl Archibald Botting G776
Pte Harry Mercer SD4810
Pte Edward Charles Taylor SD864
Pte Reginald F Corke SD1875
Pte Ernest Hewitt SD3146
Pte Cecil Honeysett SD2706
Pte James George Honeysett SD2707
CSM Edward James SD3790
L/Cpl Edward Page SD3417
CSM Nelson Victor Carter VC SD4
Pte David Parsons SD1427
Pte James George Gadd SD4213
L/Cpl Claude Leonard Toye SD3034
Sgt Alfred Thomas Harris SD1887
Sgt William Charles Duly SD3090
Pte William Stephen Smith SD3692
L/Cpl Robert Charles Veness SD4120
Pte Francis Turner SD2362
Pte Harry Hobday SD3370
Pte Hubert Winchester SD3486
Pte Gilbert Croft SD2266
Pte William Wickens Pelling SD2248
L/Cpl Alfred Isted SD1894
L/Cpl Charles Henry Funnell SD3768
Pte (William) Frank Winchester SD5021
Pte Frederick Catton SD2879
Pte Thomas William Hicks SD2102
Pte Frederick Walter Dann SD4013
L/Sgt Charles Blackman SD1263
Pte George Holland SD2103
The Battle of Aubers Ridge - 9th May 1915
The first battle to seriously affect the families back home in Ashburnham and Penhurst was the Battle of Aubers Ridge in France. Three men from the village, serving with the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment, were to die in the battle - W H Cooper, T H Mills and E J Rooke. The first casualties of Ashburnham and Penhurst.
At 0500 on the 9th May 1915 artillery started bombarding the German defences 300 yards from the British line. The bombardment ended at 0540 and the men of the 2nd Battalion went over the top.
The artillery had made little effect though, seeming to only alert the Germans of the impending attack and there were soon many casualties from German machine gun, rifle and sniper fire. Some of the Sussex men made it to within 40 yards of the German defences only to find the barbed wire unbroken. According to the battalion war diary, only one man made it to the German trenches.
The order to withdraw was given at 0630 but many men were trapped in no mans land.
Out of around 850 men in the 2nd Battalion, 273 were killed on the 9th May 1915 with more subsequently succumbing to their wounds. Of the 273, more than 250 have no known grave.
Ashburnham WW1 News Stories
World War II
On D-Day, the 6th June 1944, a USAAF B-26 Marauder crashed in the grounds of Ashburnham Place, its bomb cargo ripping a huge crater
amongst the trees and causing extensive damage to the House and surrounding properties. The plane had iced up at high altitude and spun down out of control, colliding with another B-26 in a lower
formation. The other plane crashed at Ringletts Farm, Whatlington. Only one crew member managed to parachute to safety.
In Ashburnham and Penhurst, there were:
8 flying bombs
67 high explosive bombs
3 unexploded high explosive bombs
740 incendiary bombs
3 oil and phosphorus bombs
2 machine gun and cannon fire attacks
and from all that only 3 civilians were injured.
The house at Frankwell Farm was destroyed by a bombing raid in 1940, the current property being built in 1994.
Charles Douglas Ferguson - Corporal 6398937, 44th (7th Bn. The Queen's Own Royal West Kent Regt.) Regt. Reconnaissance Corps - died 10/5/1943
Ernest Charles Isted - sergeant 657163 149 Sqdn Royal Air Force - died 24/7/1942 (shot down over Geffen in Holland)
Ronald Arthur Turner - private 6401339 5th (Cinque Ports) Bn Royal Sussex Regt - died 22/5/1940
Clement Samuel Vincent Warrington - able seaman P/JX328995 HMLCT 7015 Royal Navy - died 18/10/1944
Frederick William Creasey - private 6403926 1st Bn Royal Sussex Regt - died 24/11/1941
David John Beale – private 6400575 5th Bn Royal Sussex Regt – died 27/10/1942 (photo below, flanked by his brothers Harry (left) and William (right), child unknown)
The Ashburnham Platoon of the 19th Battalion (Rother) Sussex Home Guard
Home Guard Auxiliary Unit
The hideout contained bunk beds, food, water, ammunition and plastic explosives. In addition there were two small underground stores nearby containing extra food and ammunition.
The Ashburnham Patrol, together with the Crowhurst Patrol, were responsible for a mock attack on the Canadians stationed at Battle Abbey. The sentry was overpowered and the Commanding Officer taken prisoner, as well as dummy charges being attached to vehicles and fuel supplies. The Canadians didn’t like being made to look stupid and, in revenge, beat up the local Home Guard at the Chequers Inn, thinking them responsible!
Ashburnham WW2 News Stories
Hastings & St Leonards Observer 3rd May 1941