Private Edward Arthur Wellen

Regiment:  11th Battalion Royal Sussex
Service No:  G/19510
Date and place of birth:  2nd qtr 1897 in Fernhurst, Sussex
Date and place of death:  29 April 1918 (age 20) near Ypres, Belgium

Family background

Edward Arthur Wellen was the fourth son of Reuben and Eliza (or Elise) Wellen and was born in 1897 in Fernhurst. In 1891 his father, Reuben (27) a general labourer, a son of a charcoal burner, Harry Wellen, was living in Fernhurst with his parents and three brothers.

Also at the 1891 census, Louisa Strohmenger (27), a teacher of singing, was listed as a lodger at 42 Canonbury Road, Clerkenwell, London.  In the 2nd qtr of 1891 Reuben Wellen married Eliza Strohmenger in the Hendon district.

Reuben Wellen died in the early part of 1901.  The census that year listed Eliza Wellen (37) a widow, as head of the family, a German subject born in Strasturfe (?). Her seven living children (one had died) were Albert (9), Frederick (7), Horace (6), Ellen (4), Arthur (4), Elizabeth (1) and Eliza (2 months) and they had all been born in Fernhurst, Sussex. All were living in Van Lane (sic), Fernhurst.

In 1911, Elise Wellen (47) was living in Station Road, Midhurst, Sussex with her seven youngest children.  She was a charwoman on her own account and said she was born in Strasburg, Germany. Arthur was now aged 14.

Military service

Edward Arthur Wellen enlisted at Chichester.

The 11th (Service) Battalion, the 1st South Down was the first of three ‘Pals’ Battalions of the Royal Sussex Regiment. They were initially formed in September 1914 in Bexhill-on-Sea by C.Lieut. Col. Lowther M.P. In July 1915 the Battalion was moved to Aldershot for training and became part of 116th Brigade of the 39th Division, which started to form around Winchester in early August 1915.  They mobilised for war in February 1916 and by March all units having landed in Le Havre, were billeted near Blaringhem.

The Battalion spent the entire war on the Western Front.

During 1916 the Battalion was involved in Richebourg l’Avoue, the fighting on the Ancre, the Battle of Thiepval Ridge and the Battle of the Ancre Heights. Followed in 1917 by the Battles of Pilken Ridge, Langemarck, Menin Road Ridge, Polygon Wood and The Second Battle of Passchendaele.

In 1918, the battalion was engaged in the Battle of St Quentin, the Battle of Bapaume, the Battle of Rosieres, the First Battle of Kemmel Ridge (17 to 19 April), the Second Battle of Kemmel Ridge (25 to 26 April) and the Battle of Scherpenberg (29 April).

These final battles were part of the Battles of the Lys and because the Battalion suffered such heavy losses, a decision was taken to reduce the Division down to a cadre, which took place almost immediately and by 1 June, the Battalion was engaged in supervising courses of instruction for American troops, beginning with units of the 77th American Division.

Edward Arthur Wellen was awarded Victory and British medals.

Death and commemoration

He was killed in action on 29 April 1918 and was buried at Voormezeele Enclosure No.3 , 4 km south-west of Ypres. He is commemorated on Midhurst War Memorial and Memorial Panels in Midhurst Parish Church.

Subsequent family history

The Memorial Panels in the church list all four brothers as serving in the war.

Albert Henry Wellen is listed as wounded: the only military record found was for the award of Victory and British medals to A/Cpl Albert H Wellen of the Middlesex Regiment, service no. G51175. In 1921 Albert H Wellen married Charlotte Andrews in the Epsom district and they both died in 1963.

Reuben Frederick Wellen was killed in action 29 August 1915.

Horace Philip Wellen enlisted in Horsham on 30 November 1916 aged 22. He served in the Labour Corps, service no. 11853.  He first went to France on 18 April 1917 and also spent time in Italy. He was discharged on demobilisation with ‘very good character’ on 14 April 1920, having served a total of 3 years and 136 days. Horace P Wellen married Mabel Weller in Midhurst in 1921 and he died in 1962 aged 68 in the Uckfield district.

Eliza Wellen married Henry Lindsay of Station Road, Midhurst in 1915 and she died in Midhurst in 1937 aged 73.




Midhurst U3A WW1 War Memorial Project