Private George Sageman

Regiment: 2nd Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment.
Service No.: 8695
Date and place of birth: 4 March 1888 in Midhurst district
Date and place of death: 14 September 1914 (aged 26) at Vendresse-Beaulne, in the Aisne department in Picardy in northern France

George Sageman was one of two men from West Lavington who had enlisted in the Royal Sussex Regiment before the war and, following the outbreak of the war, were immediately sent to the western front as part of the British Expeditionary Force. Both were killed within five weeks of the start of the war, during the Battle of the Aisne.

Family background

The Sageman family can be traced through the censuses at various locations in Lodsworth, Tillington and Midhurst. George was born on 4 March 1888, the son of William Sageman (1849–1902), a labourer and his wife Ellen née Boswell (1859–1947). The couple had 9 children of whom 8 were living at the date of the 1911 census. The family was living at Cocking Causeway in 1891 but by 1901 had moved to one of the cottages at the Tanyard in West Lavington where they lived for at least the next ten years. The house is in the same group of cottages as that occupied by Richard Harber who also died during the Great War.

Four of the Sageman children attended West Lavington School and George was admitted there on 25 April 1892. He left the school in 1901 at the age of 13. His father William died the following year and by the 1911 census his widowed mother, Ellen is still living in the house with a son, Arthur and daughter.

Military service

George Sageman enlisted at Chichester in the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment on 6 April 1907 but strangely on the enlistment form he gives his place of birth as Bordon Wood, Petersfield, Hampshire and his age as 18 years and 1 month instead of the 19 years and 1 month which would have been correct. On his attestation, he is shown as being 5ft 3in high, weighing 8st 6lb with his religion as Church of England.

He originally served for a period of five years, all of which was spent in the United Kingdom. On 8 June 1912, he was place on reserve; at this time his occupation was described as “groom”. His disciplinary record was excellent, twice being commended for good conduct.

On mobilisation in August 1914, he was called up and was immediately sent to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force.

Death and commemoration

During the battle of the Aisne, the BEF was advancing in the wake of the German withdrawal from the Marne in early September 1914. The Germans had dug in on the Chemin des Dames, a ridgeway which had extensive views southwards towards the river Aisne. The BEF made many attempts to reach the Chemin des Dames and the hamlet of Troyon, north of Vendresse-Beaulne, was used as a starting point for these actions. The Third Aisne despatch of Sir John French records that the Sussex Regiment was ordered to move at 3 a.m. towards a factory north of Troyon held by the enemy. “The factory was found to be held in considerable strength by the enemy “and accordingly a Lancashire regiment was ordered to reinforce the attack. “Even with this support the force was unable to make headway” and it was only after heavy fighting that the enemy was driven back. A more graphic account of the fighting during this period can be read at www.1914-1918.net/Diaries/wardiary-1swb.html

It was during part of this battle that George Sageman was killed on 14 September along with Henry Tree who is also commemorated on the West Lavington War Memorial and served in the same regiment. The body of George Sageman was not recovered and his name is listed on the memorial at La Ferte-sous-Jouarre in the Departement of Seine-et-Marne.

George Sageman's name on the memorial at La Ferte-sous-Jouarre
George Sageman’s name on the memorial at La Ferte-sous-Jouarre

George was entitled to receive the 1914 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal) known as “Pip, Squeak and Wilfred”; his 1914 Star had the clasp to indicate that he had served under fire in the period from 5 August to 22 November 1914.

His mother contributed the sum of six shillings to the appeal in aid of the West Lavington War Memorial.

Other family members

Arthur Sageman, a brother of George, survived the war and Arthur’s two daughters Edith and May were admitted to West Lavington School in 1918 and 1920.

Thomas and William Boswell who are both commemorated on the Midhurst War Memorial were first cousins of George Sageman; Thomas was the son of Ellen Boswell’s elder brother James and William’s father was her younger brother,  George.

Midhurst U3A WW1 War Memorial Project