South Downs villages' First World War fallen remembered

The information below is taken from '˜The People of Beeding and Bramber in the Great War' by Pat Nightingale and Ken Wilson-Wheeler, available for £12 from Steyning Bookshop, Steyning Museum and Upper Beeding Newsagents.

Saturday, 17th December 2016, 8:00 pm
Postcard sent by Harry Early to his mother  it is not known who the people in the photograph are, so if any readers can give further information, please contact James Connaughton at [email protected] or write to Editorial, Herald & Gazette, Cannon House, Chatsworth Road, Worthing, BN11 1NA


41887 Sapper Harry Walter Herbert Early

130th Field Company, Royal Engineers

School Cottages, Edburton

Born in Worthing in 1895, Harry was the eldest son of Hedley Herbert Early and Beatrice Elizabeth Early, née Burgess, of 2 Dacre Gardens, Upper Beeding.

The 1911 Census shows him as an electrician’s mate in the Cement Works which explains, perhaps, why he served in the Royal Engineers.

Harry enlisted in Brighton and on August 12, 1915, and while on active service, sent his mother a postcard to let her know that he was still fit and flourishing: ‘We have had a week in the firing lines and lost our Major, worst luck’.

Harry died of wounds on November 22, 1916, aged 21 and was buried in Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension, Nord, France.

School Cottages, Edburton

He is commemorated on Upper Beeding War Memorial and was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal, having served overseas, initially in Egypt, from July 12 1915.

Harry’s surname is shown as Earley on the War Memorial and in surviving First World War documentation.

His birth was, however, was registered as Harry Early and that is how he appears on both the 1901 Census and the 1911 Census.


G/12944 Private James Baker

1st Battalion, East Kent Regiment

Born in Hangleton in 1888, James was the sixth child of Philip and Jane Baker.

The 1891 census shows the family at 1 Vallenden Cottages, West Hill, Portslade but they had moved to Edburton by the time of the 1901 census.

James was then a 13-year-old carter boy on a farm.

The family was still living in Edburton in 1911, at School Cottages.

James enlisted in Henfield into 1st/4th (Territorial Force) Battalion, of the Royal Sussex Regiment, subsequently being transferred to the East Kent Regiment.

He landed on the Greek Island of Mudros on July 17 1915 and served on the Gallipoli Peninsular until the battalion was evacuated to Egypt in December 1915 and then sent to France.

He must have had some home leave as he married Annie Edith Hedger in Brighton in 1916.

Later that year, on December 10, he was killed in action, aged 28, and buried in Guards Cemetery, Windy Corner, Cuinchy, Pas de Calais, France.

The exact location of his grave is not known due to the ground having been again fought over after he had been buried there.

In view of this James and eight other men, whose exact burial places are also unknown, are commemorated on a “Special Memorial” cross erected by The Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Annie arranged for her own addition to his headstone – it simply reads “PEACE”.

James was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal and is commemorated with his brothers on the Edburton and Fulking War Memorial and the Roll of Honour in St Andrew’s Church, Edburton.

Annie married again in 1921 to John T. Backshall, and they lived in the Old School House, Nep Town, Henfield.


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