Private Edmund Batchelor

Regiment: 16th Battalion, The Royal Sussex Regiment.
Service No: TF320203 (Originally 1990, Sussex Yeomanry)
Date & place of birth: 3rd qtr. 1895 in Petworth, Sussex
Date & place of death: 10 November 1917 (aged 22), Military Hospital, Egypt

Edmund Batchelor is commemorated on the Heyshott War Memorial, although he apparently never lived in the village.  Census records show that he lived in Sutton and Upwaltham prior to joining the army.

Family background

Edmund was born in Petworth in July 1895, the firstborn child of Edmund Batchelor (1870–1950) and his wife Fanny, née Copus (1870–1941)

Edmund senior and Fanny were married in Petworth in the last quarter of 1894 and their son Edmund was born the following year; Edmund was baptised in Petworth on 22 September 1895.  Edmund senior had been born and raised in the Petworth area but his wife, Fanny, was born in Bramley, Surrey, although she was baptised in Graffham.  At the time of the 1901 census, they lived in the village of Sutton and had two further children, Albert (1898) and Maggie (1900).

Edmund, who was a gamekeeper for Lord Leconfield, later moved his family to The Benges, near Upwaltham, where they were living in 1911; at this time Edmund (aged 15) was working as a carter’s mate on a farm.

Military service

Edmund enlisted into the Sussex Yeomanry in Brighton in September 1914.

The Sussex Yeomanry formed part of the South Eastern Mounted Brigade in Eastern Command based in Canterbury where it remained until September 1915, when its horses were taken away and the Yeomanry became dismounted infantry. The Regiment travelled to Liverpool and embarked on SS “Olympic” on 25 September 1915 bound for Gallipoli via Alexandria and Mudros. They landed at Cape Helles on the night of 7/8 October 1915 and the South Eastern Mounted Brigade (dismounted) was attached to the 42nd (East Lancashire) Division to replace battle casualties. The Division remained on Gallipoli until withdrawn back to the island of Mudros at the end of December 1915. From Mudros the Sussex Yeomanry moved via Alexandria, to the Suez Canal Zone of Egypt where the Yeomanry was absorbed into the 3rd Dismounted Brigade on canal defences. In July 1916, the Yeomanry became part of the Western Frontier Force in Egypt.

At the beginning of 1917, the Yeomanry became the 16th Battalion of The Royal Sussex Regiment in the 230th Infantry Brigade. The battalion were then engaged in various actions as part of the Sinai and Palestine Campaign. They fought in the second Battle of Gaza, which resulted in a British defeat in April 1917. As part of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF), the battalion was forced to adopt a defensive position and await reinforcements. A stalemate continued in terrible conditions through the summer and was only broken on 27 October, when the EEF embarked on a period of heavy and continuous bombardments of Gaza, which was held by Ottoman Forces. This led to the third Battle of Gaza, which was fought on the night of 1/2 November when determined night-time assaults were mounted against Gaza defences.  These attacks were only partially successful due to the strength of the garrison.  The bombardment intensified on 6 November and during the following night successful attacks were launched on several trench systems. By the morning of 7 November, Gaza was found to have been evacuated during the night and the Ottoman Seventh and Eighth Armies were forced into retreat.

Death and commemoration

Edmund must have been involved in the second Battle of Gaza and died of his wounds in an Egyptian military hospital on 10 November 1917 aged 22. He was subsequently buried in the Kantara War Memorial Cemetery at El Qantarah, el Sharqiyya, Al Isma’lliyah, Egypt. He is commemorated on the War Memorial Window in St James Church Heyshott.

Subsequent family history

At the time of Edmund’s death, his parents were living at Brickyard Cottage, Ebernoe, Petworth, Sussex.  His father continued to live in the Petworth area until his death aged 80 in 1950. He was predeceased by Fanny who appears to have died in South Western Surrey in 1941.

His brother Albert’s life has been more difficult to trace. It is thought that he could possibly have moved out of the area.  An Albert Batchelor born about 1899 married Ethel Birch in Canterbury, Kent in 1925; they had a son Edmund who was born in Woolwich in 1930 and died in Thanet in 1988. Albert died in Canterbury in 1965.

His sister Maggie appears not to have married and died in Chichester in 1987.

Midhurst U3A WW1 War Memorial Project