Remembering Worthing’s fallen

Service at Worthing War Memorial. Photo by Derek Martin - DM154259a
Service at Worthing War Memorial. Photo by Derek Martin - DM154259a

The Worthing men who died in December 1915 while serving their country in the First World War.

2991 Private Frederick Ernest Potter Willmer

Royal Sussex Regiment 72nd Provisional Battalion

Died December 12, 1915, aged 38

Frederick Willmer was born in Worthing in 1878 to single mother Eliza Emma Willmer.

He was baptised at Broadwater Church on April 7. 1878.

In 1880 his mother Eliza married Charles William Green, an agricultural labourer.

The 1881 census shows them living in Broadwater Street with Eliza’s son referred to as Frederick E Potter.

It has been difficult to trace Frederick in 1891 but there is a Frederick Potter, aged 13, born in Worthing, living with a Potter family at Holmwood, Dorking, which could be him.

In 1898 Frederick, now known as Frederick Ernest P Willmer, married Gertrude Alice Boote in Worthing.

Gertrude was born in Brixton, London, and had been working as a servant in Islington before her marriage.

By 1901 the couple were living at 2 Warwick Cottage, Cemetery Road, Broadwater Down, Kent, where Frederick was employed as a coachman.

A daughter was born to them in 1900 followed by a son two years later.

By 1911 Frederick and his family had moved to 64 Ashdown Road, Worthing, and Frederick was working as a gardener.

At the start of war, Frederick, now 36 years old, enlisted with the Royal Sussex Regiment, Provisional Battalion, Home Command at Horsham.

While stationed at Abbeywood, Kent, he became ill and was taken to the Royal Herbert Hospital at Woolwich, where he died on December 12, 1915.

His body was brought home to Worthing where he was given a military burial in Broadwater Cemetery.

His grave has a Commonwealth War Grave headstone.

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L/10633 Private James Baker

Royal Sussex Regiment 2nd Battalion

Died December 13, 1915, aged 18

James Baker was born in Shoreham in 1898, the eldest child of parents William and Emily Baker, née Grinstead.

There were six children in the family, a seventh having died in infancy.

William Baker was described as a beach carter and home was near the River Adur at Ropetackle.

By 1911 the Baker family had moved to 12 Middle Street, still in Shoreham.

William’s occupation was now described as a carman for a cartage contractor.

By 1914 the family had moved again, this time to Worthing, where they made their home at 34 Archibald Road.

James enlisted with the Royal Sussex Regiment in Worthing and went to France with his battalion as part of the British Expeditionary Force.

Throughout the day, on December 13, 1915, German aircraft were active in the vicinity of Hulluch and were repeatedly checked from crossing the Allies lines.

James Baker was one of two men killed in this action.

He is buried in the Dud Corner Cemetery at Loos, Pas de Calais, France, and is remembered on the Salvation Army War memorial at the Citadel in Crescent Road, Worthing.

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12673 Private Edward Yorke Locke

Lincolnshire Regiment 7th Battalion

Died December 20, 1915

Edward was born in 1894 at Arundel, and in 1901 he was living with his parents Edwin, a stonemason, and Martha, at Tortington, near Arundel.

Around 1905 the family moved to 24 London Street, Worthing (now demolished).

Edward went to St Andrew’s School and on leaving school worked as an apprentice at GH Smith, a linen shop in South Street.

He enlisted in the Lincolnshire Regiment on September 7, 1914.

After training at Dorset and Winchester his battalion landed at Boulogne on July 14, 1915.

On December 20 he was attacking the German trenches near Ypres and was killed with seven of his fellow soldiers.

Edward’s courage under fire was praised by his company commander.

He is buried in the Menin Road South Military Cemetery and remembered on the St Andrew’s School memorial, as well as being remembered on his parents’ grave in Broadwater Cemetery.

The Lincolnshire Regiment raised 19 battalions during the war.

More than 10,000 men from the regiment lost their lives.

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1196 Driver Harold Hildred Rogers

Royal Field Artillery 1st Sussex Battery

Died December 25, 1915, aged 21

Harold Rogers was born on October 24, 1894, in Felixstowe, Suffolk.

He was the only son of William Rogers and his wife Rosa Catherine, née Wadey.

William, who had served in the Navy before being invalided out, died at the age of 29, a year after the birth of his son.

Harold was brought up by his maternal grandparents, George Wadey, a wheelwright, and his wife Jane, in the Sussex villages of Henfield and Washington.

Harold’s mother Rosa took work at Shotesham Hall, Norfolk, before marrying George Dancy, a coachman.

After several years in London Rosa and George moved to 2 Ivanhoe Terrace, Ham Road, Worthing (now demolished).

After leaving school in Washington, Harold worked as a baker boy and then as a market garden labourer.

He was now living in Worthing as his grandparents had moved to 4 Jubilee Cottages in Broadwater (now demolished).

In April 1913 he enlisted with the Worthing Territorials.

At the outbreak of war he volunteered for foreign service, and in October 1914 he was sent to India.

From there he was drafted to the Persian Gulf in November 1915.

Sadly, on Christmas Day, Harold drowned in the River Tigris.

He has no known grave but is commemorated on the Basra Memorial in Iraq and on the memorial at Broadwater Church, Worthing.

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