Soldiers of the Queen

The Boer War

War Declared 10th October 1899

The Treaty of Vereeniging ends the War on the 31st May 1902


Sompting Men

Private James Bennett, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment

James Bennett was born in Worthing the son of Edmund and Elsie Bennett who in 1891 were living at the Brewers Arms in West Street Sompting. Edmund was listed as the caretaker of a Public House and 14 year-old James as a market gardener’s labourer.

James Bennett joined the Royal Lancaster Regiment (not the Loyal North Lancs as published by the Worthing Gazette) and attested in July 1893. Apart from two years in South Africa the Regiment was at home for most of his 16 years of service.

He was described as being 18 years old, of Worthing and a carman in July 1893, being 5’ 7” tall with a dark complexion, brown eyes and black hair.

In September 1899 James had married Hannah Clarke at Lancaster, a daughter Elsie Catherine was born in June 1900 and their address was given as 21 Adelphi Street, Lancaster.

The 2nd Battalion sailed on the Dilwara on 2nd December 1899 and arrived on 25th December. James Bennett received the South Africa medal along with two clasps for the action at Tugela Heights and the Relief of Ladysmith.

However, he was invalided home to Sompting in August 1900 and given a welcome by the Village Brass Band. The Village held a procession and a competition for the best decorated bicycle and collected £6 18s for returning Reservists, James Bennett and James Coleman both being presented with a sum of money.

James Bennett was finally discharged on the 18th July 1909 and although there is reference to him being invalided home and his papers show he was entitled to a pension the relevant paperwork has not yet been found.


Private George Baker, 2nd Scottish Rifles

George Baker was born in Sompting in 1873 the son of Richard and Harriett (Greenyer) who had married in Sompting in 1860 and lived at Ball Cottages. In the census of 1881 the family with George age 8 are living in Cokeham and although his family were still in Cokeham in 1891 George was working in Maidstone as a groom.

George Baker, a First Class Reservist, appears to have been in South Africa at the commencement of the fighting and was with General Buller’s Force in January 1900. In Feb 1900 extracts from a letter home appeared in the Worthing Gazette:

“We are enabled this week to publish another letter written by a soldier now at the Front to his friends at home. Private G Baker of the 2nd Scottish Rifles, a native of Sompting, writes to his friends of the first attempt to cross the Tugela, touching briefly on the loss of the guns, in connection with which several soldiers have just been awarded the Victoria Cross. Following are extracts from Private Baker’s letter:

“We made a dash to cross the Tugela River but we were force d to retire under a very heavy rifle fire from the Boers. We were escorting the Naval guns along the river, and we were firing from a quarter-past five in the morning until half-past two in the afternoon. This will be the largest fight out here; it is for the relief of Ladysmith, I believe”

“IT WAS A DREADFUL FIRE, what with the rifle fire and shells bursting all around us. Most of our men got wounded in the legs and arms.

“We lost two batteries of Artillery, the Boers capturing them. It was awful to see men and horses lying about killed and wounded. Our losses are about 1,047 killed, wounded, and missing.”

“The Boers are fair devils. They even crossed the river and robbed our dead of their helmets, coats, and even boots, anything they could lay their hands on; the worst class of people I ever saw. They even fired on our wounded in the carts.

“If we could only get at them with our bayonets we would give them cold steel. This is the first battle I have been in and came out without a scratch. God only knows how I shall fare in the next one!”

In April 1901 the Worthing Gazette reported that Private George Baker who had been in South Africa for sixteen months had returned to his home in Sompting being met at Worthing Railway Station by the Sompting Brass Band and a number of friends who dragged him home in a trap lent by Mr Downey – landlord of the Marquis of Granby. Private Baker had been invalided home suffering from dysentery and rheumatism and it was stated he had been in several engagements which included Colense; Potgeiter’s Drift; Spion Kop; Val Krantz; Helpnaaker; Laing’s Nek; the operations near Ladysmith and work in the Transvaal. No soldier’s papers have been found and the majority of the service information has been gleaned from the Worthing Gazette. There were two men of the same name serving with the Scottish Rifles, however George Baker of Sompting may have the number of 3129 as the other man was still in South Africa in 1902.

To celebrate the return of George Baker as well as Frederick Peters a smoking concert was held in the Reading Room with about 130 present and they were presented with £2 11s each, their share of a collection held for them locally, a musical programme followed.

In the census of 1911 George Baker is shown as an Army Pensioner living with his father then aged 75 and working as a gardener and his sister Kate age 29 at Ball Tree Cottage, Sompting.

George Baker died in 1959 and is buried in Sompting Churchyard having lived to the ripe old age of 85. His sister, Kate Maria who was at home in 1911, lived to be 93, never having married and died in 1976.


Private J Coleman, 885 2nd Dorset Regiment

James Coleman was born in Sompting, the son of Thomas Coleman and Mary, and baptised on the 14th October 1866. The family lived at 4 Burry Cottages for many years.

James attested for the 2nd Dorset Regiment in 1884 when he was 19 years old and employed as a gardener. He was described as being 5’ 4” tall, with a fresh complexion, grey eyes and light brown hair.

The Regiment was posted to the East Indies in March 1885 and to Aden in 1886 where the Regiment stayed for just under a year before returning to England. During that time James was awarded 1d a day good conduct pay, and a further award of 3d a day was made in 1890. Whilst James and the Regiment were not involved in any fighting he did spend a considerable time in hospital with various ailments.

In February 1891 James Coleman was listed as a First Class Reservist and in April that year he was again living with his parents and working as a market gardener’s labourer, finally being discharged to the Army Reserve in February 1896. However, James married Elizabeth Wicks in 1892 and when their first two children were born the family were living at South Way Cottages.

The War Office sent a telegram on the 9th February 1900 recalling James to his Regiment, and the Worthing Gazette, in referring to the departure for South Africa of Mr J Coleman of Church Lane, wished him “Good Luck and God Speed”. His third child was born in April 1900 after he had left for South Africa.

The Soldiers Record states quite clearly that no wounds had been received by James, but several reports were published in the Worthing Gazette concerning him having been in hospital and then convalescent, and it could be that the effects of some of his earlier ailments were felt.

Campaign medals for service in South Africa were issued and James Coleman was entitled to the Queens Medal for South Africa together with two clasps, one for service in Cape Colony, O.F State and the other for the Transvaal, Laing’s Nek.

He arrived back in Sompting on Friday the 8th November 1900 at 2.00 p.m. A few days later a Smoking Concert was held in the Reading Room and James was presented with the sum of £2 7s 8d. A procession had been held in the village comprising the Sompting Brass Band, a second Band, about 50 flags and banners, together with an effigy of Kruger and a parade of decorated bicycles. The collection raised £6 18s for the returning Reservists.

James Coleman had been a pupil at the National School in Loose Lane and was invited back to speak to the older children about his experiences in South Africa.

James Coleman and his family are still living in Church Lane in 1901.


Private G Mears, 10th Hussars

The son of Henry Mears and Eliza, George was baptised at Ashington in 1868, and his parent’s address was given as Blackbrook, Ditchling where in 1881 George, at the age of 12, was a carter’s boy.

He volunteered for the 10th Hussars and was attested on the 27th November 1886, his age was stated to be 18 years and 4 months and he worked as a groom. He was described as being 5’ 6 3/8tall, with a fresh complexion, hazel eyes and black hair with scars from cuts on the top of his thumb and forefinger.

In January 1887 he transferred to the 7th Hussars and stayed in England until September 1890 when he went to India with the Regiment returning in November 1894 and was discharged to the Reserve. It is possible that he came to Sompting at this time. In 1898 he was re-engaged for the Reserve.

In the meantime, he had met Amy Lisher and they were married in Sompting in February 1896. George Mears’ father was shown as deceased, and Amy’s father, George Lisher, was a Fruit Growers Foreman; the witnesses were George Lisher and Lucy Mears.

Before being recalled to army service, George Mears was active in Sompting village life. In 1900 he was both Chairman and Secretary of the Slate Club, and in November that year was a winner of the best-decorated bicycle to have taken part in a procession held in the village. The procession had been lead by the Sompting Brass Band, there was a second Band, and there were about 50 flags and banners together with an effigy of Kruger. The collection raised £6 18s for returning Reservists, both James Coleman and James Bennett having been discharged from the Army.

George Mears was recalled to his Regiment and sailed for South Africa in February 1901 leaving his wife Amy and son Charles aged 2 months living with his father-in-law at 5 Edwards Terrace.

George Mears was finally discharged from the Army in March 1902 having suffered a life- changing wound whilst on service in August 1901. At Wanhoop a bullet from a gunshot had entered the left nostril and in falling from his horse he fractured the right clavicle. The gunshot wound caused permanent damage to his sight and hearing on the right hand side, although the Army considered he was quite able to do light work.

He received the South Africa Medal and clasps for service at Cape Colony and Transvaal. He was entitled to the South African War Gratuity and there seems to have been some correspondence with the authorities concerning a pension, which was possibly 18d a week.

Life could never have been the same again, but George Mears remained active in the Village, he assisted with hospital fund raising in 1905, was Treasurer of the Slate Club and an Instructor with the Church Lads Brigade and Chairman of the committee organising the 1907 Hospital Parade.

In 1911 the census shows George Mears and Amy living at 5 Edwards Terrace along with their two children, Charles age 10 and Leonard age 7. George Mears was a gardener as was his father-in-law then age 70.

By 1912 George Mears had resigned from the Church Lads Brigade and it is believed he left the Village round about 1918.


Sergeant F Peters, 4th Battalion Rifle Brigade

Frederick William Peters was born in Portslade in 1864, the son of Edward and Ann Peters and in 1871 Edward Peters was a gardener. By 1881 Edward Peters has died and Frederick age 17 is an agricultural labourer living with his mother, his sister Annie who is a scholar and two boarders.

He married Jemima Greenyer in Worthing in December 1890 and a child, Frederick James, was baptised in Sompting in July 1891 when Frederick Peters was a Corporal with the Rifle Brigade from the Rifle Department at Winchester and his wife and child were living with her parents at 9 Orchard Cottages. Unfortunately despite an extensive search his papers have not been found for this era.

Another child, Agnes Mary, was born in 1895 when the family were living at Busticle Cottages and Frederick Peters was not only a garden labourer but the Parish Clerk. A further two children followed, Edward born in 1898 and Rose in 1899.

At the end of May 1900, the Worthing Gazette announced that Sergeant F Peters, a Reservist of the 4th Battalion of the Rifle Brigade, had been called on to rejoin his Regiment leaving from Worthing Station for Gosport.

In the 26th December 1900 edition of the Gazette the text of a telegram was published:

“Seasonable Compliments from a soldier.

The following message has been received at our offices on a form issued by the ‘Telegraaf Departement, Z. A. Republic’:

Will you please convey my best wishes to all Sompting folk, hoping they will have a merry Xmas and a Happy New Year, including the staff of the Gazette”

The paper stated the message was sent by Sergeant F W Peters, 1st Rifle Brigade Zuiker Bosch Transvaal.

By January 1901 the newspaper were publishing reports of the possible death of Sgt Peters, but on enquiry of the War Office it was established that he had been wounded in both his head and leg. It was reported in April 1901 that Sgt Peters was fully recovered and had arrived home in Sompting where he was met with an enthusiastic welcome and escorted from Worthing Station by the Sompting Brass Band. He received the South Africa Medal and two clasps.

To celebrate the return of Frederick Peters as well as George Baker a smoking concert was held in the Reading Room with about 130 present and they were presented with £2 11s each, their share of a collection held for them locally, a musical programme followed.

Sometime about 1909 the Peters family left Sompting and moved to Brighton and in 1911 they were living at 55 Windmill Street, Brighton.

Not long after the outbreak of War in 1914 Frederick Peters attested for the Royal Sussex Regiment and was discharged in Jun 1918 having risen to the rank of Company Sergeant Major.

Lancing Men

Lieut. Basil Gerard Peel, 3rd Bt. Dorset Regiment

Basil Gerard Peel was born 26th December 1881 at Maresfield, the son of Rev. Edmund Peel, who later became Vicar of St James the Less, Lancing. He was educated at Marlborough before joining the 3rd Battalion of the Dorset Regiment in 1899 as a 2nd Lieutenant.

The Gazette of the 13th March 1900 records he was seconded for service to a Line Battalion in South Africa, the 1st Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry, and was given temporary rank of Lieutenant. This was his first tour of duty and Lancing Villagers gave him a good send-off.

On his return to Lancing in November 1900, he was met at the station by his family, members of the Parish Council and other prominent inhabitants. His carriage was dragged through the village, accompanied by a brass band, the Coastguards, the Bonfire Boys, the Church Lad’s Brigade and many of the inhabitants dressed in fancy costumes. Many houses were decorated with flags and bunting. On reaching the Vicarage Lt. Peel was presented with a parade sword by Mr W. H. Doll on behalf of the residents.

He was awarded the Queen’s Medal with four clasps for action in the Transvaal, The Orange Free State, Cape Colony and Laings NEK.

B G Peel went on to have a distinguished career in the Army before retiring in 1930 as a Lieutenant Colonel.


Pte. William Samuel Sinden, 2nd Bt. Dorsetshire Regiment

William Sinden was born in 1870 at Eastbourne to parents Samuel and Emma. At the age of 20 he was working as a milkman but when the recruiting officer of the Royal Sussex Regiment visited Eastbourne he decided on a change of career so on the 24 January 1890 he made his way to Brighton where he joined up. After his medical, when he was pronounced fit, but 1” below chest measurement, he was recommended for the 14th Hussars but within a few weeks on the 12th March he was transferred to the 2nd Dorsetshire Regiment.

William took part in an education programme, receiving Certificates of Education, 3rd Class, in November 1891 and 2nd Class in December 1892 and attending a cooking class at Aldershot in January 1894. He had done well and was promoted to Corporal on the 28 April 1893 and made a Sergeant on 12th January 1897. William obviously liked army life because on the 23 December 1896 he applied to extend his service to 12 years. January 1897 saw him leaving for Malta with his regiment, where he spent 22 days, before continuing on his way to India. Something happened towards the end of that year that had William reduced to the ranks and imprisoned with hard labour for 28 days and forfeiting his good conduct pay. His service extension was also cancelled.


The 5th Royal Irish Lancers, nicknamed “the redbreasts” trace their history back to 1689. Disbanded for fear of sedition in the ranks in 1799 they were restored in 1858. He was stationed in Canterbury for all or some of time before going to India in September 1895. From India the Lancers were sent to Natal at the outbreak of the 2nd Boer War in 1899 and William was in South Africa for the war’s duration. He was awarded the Queen’s South Africa (QSA) medal with medal clasps; Cape colony, Orange Free State, Defence of Ladysmith, Belfast, Elandslaagte.

At Elandslaagte on 21 October 1899 the Lancers distinguished themselves by a massed cavalry attack that routed the Boers. This battle had been to capture the railway station in order to keep the supply route to Ladysmith with it’s large British garrison open. However shortly afterwards the British suffered defeat at the Battle of Ladysmith and the troops including the Lancers fell back to the town of Ladysmith. The Boers surrounded the town for 118 days, 30 October 1899 to 28 February 1890. General Buller advised they should either break out or destroy their stores and ammunition and surrender. Some raids were made but the troops were unable to break out as their horses were too weak and their commander Lieutenant George White refused to surrender. Whilst waiting for relief, conditions became very bad; enteric fever broke out, the Boers had cut off the water supply and towards the end the military and civilians were living off horses, draught oxen and chervil, a meat paste. The Battle of Belfast or Bergendal took place between 21-27 August 1900, on the farm of Bergendal near the town of Belfast where members of the South African Republic Police were entrenched. It was the last set piece battle of the war. From then onwards the Boers adopted guerrilla tactics.

During this time William’s family moved to New House Farm, Upper Beeding and by 1901 were living in The Street, North Lancing. William re-entered civilian life when he returned to England in April 1902. A private he was given the rank of lance corporal in the Reserves on 12/7/1902. On 27 June 1903 he was a witness at the marriage of his sister Flora Kate to George Edward Steer in St James the Less Church, Lancing. Early the following year he himself married Eleanor Kate Knight in the parish church of Upper Beeding. Their son Reginald William Willmer was baptised in St James the Less Lancing 14 September 1904. William returned to farm labouring; this was the occupation he gave when he landed in Quebec 19 May 1907, destination Welland, Ontario. Welland, at the junction of waterways and railways, was becoming an important site for heavy industry. Eleanor was pregnant again when he left. She joined her husband on 22 October 1908 with her daughter Kathleen Knight aged 7, Reginald 4 and ten month old Stanley Herbert.

By 1910 the family had moved to Louth, Lincoln County, near to the shore of Lake Ontario where a daughter Millicent was born March 1910. On her birth registration William’s occupation was postmaster. However the following year on the 1911 census, he is working as a carpenter in house building. At the end of 1919 Kathleen Willmer (as she was now known) married in Toronto, but it is not known if her family were living there as well.

Meanwhile back in Lancing William’s parents continued to live along The Street. Sampson Wilmer died of heart disease in 1915 in the New Hospital part of Steyning Union Workhouse, Shoreham. Sarah Willmer died in 1931 in “Avalon” West Street, Sompting, aged 82. This was the home of her daughter, Alice Town, who remained in Sompting until her death in 1966. Sampson and Sarah Willmer are buried together in the churchyard of St James the Less and their grave is marked by a headstone.

William Willmer did return to England briefly. He landed in Southampton 30 January 1939 giving his destination as South Lancing and he returned to Canada on 8 April 1939. He had remained a carpenter.

(One of our members is the granddaughter of William’s sister, Flora Steer. She is attempting to contact any descendants of William in Canada and also hopes to research his army career further. She would be very grateful for any information on the Town family in Sompting)


Sapper N Greenyer 3047, 8th Company Royal Engineers

Noah Greenyer was born in Ferring December 1871, the son of Noah Greenyer and Emily whose marriage had taken place in Ferring in 1861.

Noah Greenyer is an agricultural labourer in 1901 and he married Sarah Jane Moss in June 1895 at Goring’ the witnesses being John Wm Moss and Florence Clara Greenyer. The record shows he had two children born before enlistment, Albert born in Lancing, but baptised at Goring, in 1896 and Florence both born and baptised at Lancing the following year.

The family were living at 3 Pond Row Cottages, Lancing when Noah Greenyer attested for the Royal Engineers on the 14th April 1899, and was transferred to Army Reserve. Noah, then employed as a ganger, was aged 27 years and 4 months and described as being 5’ 6” tall, with a fair complexion and brown eyes and hair with a scar on his left fore finger. He had previously tried to enlist but had been rejected due to an under-size chest measurement.

Recalled from the Reserve on the 9th October 1899 Noah sailed for South Africa on the 14th November.

In the census of 1901 Noah’s wife, Sarah Jane, then of 4 Pond Row, stated she and their two children, were living on her husband’s pay and the extra 1d a day awarded for good conduct in October 1901 must have been very welcome.

Noah served uninjured throughout this war and returned home from South Africa in August 1902. A gratuity of £2 was paid on his second transfer to the Army Reserve, followed by a further gratuity of £26 0s 7½d. issued under Demobilization Regulations (South Africa) in May 1903. Noah was finally discharged on the termination of his engagement having been in the Army and/or the Army Reserve for 6 years. The total service towards Pension was calculated at 4 years 20 days as service in the Reserve did not count.

Whilst in South Africa Noah Greenyer was mentioned in the despatch of Lord Kitchener for good services rendered; London Gazette 29th July 1902.

The following medals were awarded to him:

South Africa 1899-1902 and clasp Cape Colony and Free State

King’s South Africa Medal and Clasp South Africa 1901-1902 Transvaal

By the census of 1911 Noah and his family were living at Railway Cottages, Angmering. Noah was employed as a railway ganger, his eldest son Albert aged 14, was a nursery worker, and Florence aged 13 and Arthur aged 5 were at school.


George Killick, Driver, 42nd Army Service Corps

In 1871 George Killick, born about 1865, is the seventh of the ten children listed as living with John and Eliza Killick at Frant where John Killick is a Grocer.

By 1881 the family are living at Havant and both George and his father are working as general labourers and by 1891 George is in the Army. His parents and younger siblings have moved to Lancing and are living at No. 7 Salt Lake; John Killick is a milkman.

George Killick attested for the Army Service Corps on the 6th August 1889 when he was described as being 5’ 3½” tall, with a fresh complexion, blue eyes and dark brown hair. At some time transverse lines had been tattooed on the back of his left forearm. Early in 1892 George Killick qualified in ‘cold shoeing’.

His Regiment was at home until October 1899 and by then he had received two good conduct pay awards.

In April 1900 the Worthing Gazette published the following letter which had been sent to Thomas Killick who was living at the family home in Salt Lake.

“We have been on the march for the last twenty days with a convoy of 3,000 mules and 300 wagons. The wagons are being driven and we ride alongside. We left East London just after Christmas, proceeding to Queenstown, then on to Stormberg. We are now on our way to the Orange River to join General French’s column. We are resting at Naaupoort, where we are going to put all the wagons on the railway, so you see we are getting plenty of work. The weather is very hot here. I have only just come out of the hospital, having had a bad turn of dysentery, which as pulled me down a bit, but I think I shall all right now. We get plenty of grapes and peaches, but I did not get the tobacco and cigars you sent me, which I should have been very glad of. I expect they have gone astray, like a great many more parcels. The newspapers have come to hand all right. We cannot get out to buy anything, as there is martial law here, which means that we must not leave our lines, or carry on conversation with the natives.”

He served throughout the Boer War and became entitled to the South Africa Medal and the Kings South Africa Medal together with clasps. He was discharged to the Reserve in September 1902 having received various gratuities and finally left the Army in November 1906.

By the time the 1911 census is taken George Killick is a gardener living with his brother Thomas and his family at ‘Nutbourne’ in Penhill Road, Lancing.

Driver William John Kimber, Royal Artillery 78146

William John was born 4th January 1873 to parents George and Mary Kimber in Sompting. In 1881 the family were living in North Lancing with Mary’s grandmother, Elizabeth Hollingdale. George was a gardener’s labourer and it seemed William was to follow in his father’s footsteps but William joined the Reserves of the 3rd Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment and soon he attested for the Royal Artillery.

He was 18 years 2 months old, with a fresh complexion, grey eyes, brown hair, just over 5’ 3” tall with a 33 inch chest when he had his medical at Chichester for the Royal Artillery on the 4th March 1890. He was based at Woolwich as a Driver with 2nd Battery until the 22nd January 1892 when he left for India. He didn’t return home again until the 5th May 1901 but by the 9th November 1901 he was on his way to South Africa where he stayed until the 2nd October 1905. He received the Queens Medal with clasps for action in the Orange Free State, Cape Colony, the Transvaal and S.A. 01 & S.A. 02, and 4 Good Conduct badges. From then until his discharge on the 23rd April 1910 he was in England finishing his service at the Ordnance College & School of Gunnery having served 20 years 51 days with the Colours. He was described as having exemplary character.

Just before his discharge on the 14th April 1910 he married May Parvin Winfield at St Andrews, Fulham. Their son, George James, was born on the 15th January 1911 at Lancing and the 1911 census shows them living at Bay Tree Cottage, North Lancing.

At the outbreak of WW1, William attested again on the 16th October 1914 when he was 40 years 300 days old, 5’ 5” tall, 158 lbs, ruddy complexion, hazel eyes and light brown hair and his trade was given as a carman. This was just before his daughter Winifred was born. His army number was 15927, a driver in the Royal Garrison Artillery. On the 1st October 1918 he received a Long Service and Good Conduct medal while stationed at an Instructional Battery at Shoeburyness, Essex. On the 18th February 1919 he was at the dispersal centre, Crystal Palace when he was transferred to Class 7, Army Reserve on demobilisation and he was to receive a pension.

It wasn’t long before he was back in North Lancing, at Bay Tree Cottage. At some point the family moved to Sompting where William died, the following report was in the Worthing Gazette, August 15th 1934: “A South African war veteran, Mr W J Kimber, of 18 Millfield Cottages, Sompting, died on Thursday, less than a week after the marriage of his only daughter and was buried at Sompting on Monday afternoon. He had been ill with heart trouble for some time. South African War veterans and members of the Lancing & Sompting British Legion were among those present at the church.


Corporal Ellis Fuller Lisher No.879, 1st Bn Scots Guards

Compiled from information supplied by Mary Connaughton Ellis Lisher’s granddaughter.

Ellis Lisher was born in Sompting on 21st June 1878 to Daniel Lisher and Frances [nee Slaughter] when the family were living at Lower Cokeham. By 1891 Daniel and his family had moved to Lancing when they were living at Monks Farm Cottages. Daniel Lisher died in 1899 and his widow, Frances, later lived in the Penfold Almshouses in North Road, Lancing.

Ellis Lisher enlisted at Brighton on 12th November 1895 for "short service" with the Scots Guards. He was 17 years old at the time, a labourer, still living with his parents. That same day he had a medical examination - where he gave his age as 18 years 5 months - and was considered fit for service.

The next day, 13th November 1895, he underwent a "Primary Military Examination" in Chichester and was considered fit for service in the Scots Guards by Thomas Kinloch, the recruiting officer. This was followed by a certificate of the Approving Field Officer.

He was in London for nearly four years, his service being extended to complete seven years with the colours on 17th June 1896. During this time he obviously received some kind of education, obtaining a 3rd Class Educational certificate on 13th August 1896.

He left for South Africa on 21st October 1899 (just three weeks after his father Daniel's death), arriving in the Cape on 13th November 1899 and was appointed Lance Corporal on 26th May 1900.

In May 1901, the Worthing Gazette commented it had received a letter from Ellis Lisher who had sent an account of a speech made by General French.

The Queen's South African Medal (QSA) with Clasps for Belmont, Modder River, Driefontein, Johannesburg and Diamond Hill, on the roll dated 11th October 1901, and the King's South Africa medal (KSA) were awarded to him.

It is believed that Ellis Lisher received a clock from the people of Lancing, it being recorded in a family diary, but no further information is available.

After serving almost three years in South Africa, he returned home and resumed service in London on 5th October 1902. A few weeks later, on 15th November 1902, he married Bertha Agnes Wood in St Peter's Church, Paddington.

Ellis Lisher was discharged on 11th November 1907, having served 12 years with the Scots Guards.


Richard Henry Mitchell, Royal Artillery

Richard Henry Mitchell was born on February 1873 in Lancing, baptised 2 March 1873 in Lancing’s parish church, St James the Less. His parents were Emmanuel Mitchell and Mary Jane Knight. He had a sister Mary Ann three years older. Mary Ann married William Denyer a carpenter turned builder and lived with her family in Southwick. The 1911 census reveals that Emmanuel and Mary Jane had a third child but as it doesn’t appear in census or baptism records I assume it died as a very young infant.

Richard grew up at Monks Farm Cottages on North Road Lancing. His father was an agricultural labourer at this time and this was Richard’s occupation on the 1891 census. He was then still living with his parents. Richard joined the army in Chichester 26 May 1891. He had had his medical examination in Brighton on 23 May and was passed fit. He was five foot four and half inches tall, weighed 123 pounds with a fresh complexion, blue eyes and brown hour. Distinguishing marks were an anchor tattoo on his right wrist and a mole over his left shoulder blade. On 27 may 1891 he joined the Royal Artillery at Woolwich. A brief summary is his army career is

Home 23/5/1891 to 26/10/1899

South Africa 27/10/1899 to 28/8/1902

Home 29/8/1902 to 22/5/1903

His job in the Royal Artillery was that of a driver. That of course meant driving horses. In more detail he was first in the 2nd Battalion assigned to depot duties. On 14/8/1894 he was transferred to the 41st Field Battery and on 7/9/1894 to the 16th. The 21/4/1894 saw him transferred to the 6th Royal Horse Artillery and 5/2/1897 to the 7th.

He left after his eight years service and on 23/5/1898 he was placed in the 1st Class Army Reserve. But the Second Boer War came along leading to his recall 16 months later on 9 October 1899. During his time in South Africa he was with the Royal Horse Artillery, No 2 Brigade RHA ammunition under Captain John Philip du Cane. Ammunition columns carrying small–arms as well as gun ammunition formed part of every horse & field artillery brigade column and were in 2 portions, the first being horse ammunition wagons and mule buck wagons and the second ox wagons. During the first half of 1890 his ammunition column served some of the major encounters of the war. The first was the Relief of Kimberley. Arthur Conan Doyle in his account of this wrote

‘The force was soon increased by the transfer of the Guards and the arrival of more artillery; but the numbers which started on Monday, February 12th, amounted roughly to twenty-five thousand foot and eight thousand horse with 98 guns-a considerable army to handle in a foodless and almost waterless country. Seven hundred wagons drawn by eleven thousand mules and oxen, all collected by the genius for preparation and organisation which characterises Lord Kitchener, groaned and creaked behind the columns’

Following the Relief Richard’s ammunition column supplied troops at the Battle of Paardenburg 17-16 February 1900, Battle of Driefontein 10 March 1900, Battle of Johannesburg 31 May 1900 and Diamond Hill 11-12 June 1900. In the last fourteen thousand British soldiers squared up against four thousand Boers and forced them from their positions on the hill. Forty-four years after the battle, General Ian Hamilton opined in his memoirs that "the battle, which ensured that the Boers could not recapture Pretoria, was the turning point of the war". Winton Churchill recognised that the key to victory would be in storming the summit, and risked his life to signal Hamilton.’

Richard was to stay in South Africa until August 1902 but the rest of the war consisted of small encounters rather than major actions.. On the 9/5/1903 he was put into the 1st Class Army Reserve again and discharged 22 May 1903. He was awarded the Kings and Queens Medals. He received no clasps for the battles mentioned above. This was because in his role he would not have been in close enough proximity to the fighting as each clasp had a designated geographical area in which a participant needed to have served.

Richard married 1907 Mary Harriet Potter. Mary born 1871 came from a Sompting family and was an elementary school teacher before her marriage. Her widowed father John and brother Fred market garden labourers lived with her and Richard.

In 1911 they were at 2 Boundstone Cottages, Cokeham. He gave his occupation as carter to a coal merchant. His army driving experience would have made him eminently suitable for such work. He and Mary had one child Richard Fred born 1908.

However Richard’s civilian life was cut cruelly short. There was a funeral report for him in the Worthing Gazette 26 Feb 1914 'A Forrester's funeral

‘Members of the Shoreham Court of Forresters attended the funeral of one of their members, who was buried at Sompting churchyard last week. The deceased was Mr R H Mitchell of Cokeham who succumbed to an attack of pneumonia following an operation for appendicitis. He leaves a widow and one child. Mr Mitchell who was 41 years old was formerly a driver in the Royal Horse Artillery, took part in the Boer War for which he was awarded a medal. When he returned to civilian occupation he was employed by Messrs Lisher & Peters and was highly esteemed’.,

Mary Jane Mitchell his mother died 1913 aged 69. Emmanuel Mitchell died 1931 in Lancing aged 85. After Richard had joined the Royal Artillery they moved to Alma Terrace South Lancing and Emmanuel worked as a labourer in market gardens. His widow Mary Harriet never remarried and died in 1954, a widow for 40 years. His son Richard married Phyllis Hillier and died in 1999 in the Worthing area. They had three sons.


William Daughtrey, Private, 2nd Cheshire Rgt

G B Lloyd, Private, 1st Royal Dragoons

W White, Private, 1st Btnn Scots Guards

The above three men appear in the Roll of Honour published by the Worthing Gazette 25 July 1900. Along the way a Private H Lloyd, 1st Royal Dragoons has also appeared as have various other men and there may be more. The problem with all of them is that without their papers it cannot be confirmed these men are the ones listed on the Roll of Honour although they probably are. Different pieces of miscellaneous information is held concerning each of the men.


William Willmer, 5th Royal Irish Lancers

Although not a Lancing or Sompting born man a soldier, William Wilmer, who saw a lot of action in the Boer War had associations with both villages. William was born in 1874 in Angmering, the second son of Sampson Willmer and Sarah Jane Greenfield. He grew up in a building now called Chants, one of the most beautiful in the village, but then it was divided into three so must have been crowded. William followed his father in working on the land until 4 December 1894 when he enlisted in the army for twelve years, eight in colours and four in reserve. He indicated he wanted to go into general service, cavalry, and for him this meant the 5th Royal Irish Lancers. From William’s attestation papers we know he was 5ft 9ins (quite tall for a working class man) grey eyes and brown hair.


He returned to England on the 29th April 1898 where he was transferred to the Militia and presumably returned to Sussex because he met and married Elizabeth Maria Greet in 1899. Elizabeth had been born in Hove but her family moved to Lancing in the 1890’s where her father became a market gardener. After their marriage Elizabeth lived with her parents while William was away.

On the 11 November 1899 he received orders to rejoin the 2nd Battalion of the Dorsets just in time to leave for South Africa on the 24th. He spent 2 years and 253 days fighting in South Africa before returning home on the 4th August 1902; two days later he was discharged at Dorchester. His discharge papers state he was 32 years 8 months, 5 feet 7 inches tall, chest measurement 39 inches, with a sallow complexion, blue eyes and dark hair. His conduct was described as very good and he was honest and trustworthy, winning two good conduct badges. He was awarded the Queens South African Medal with clasp 1899 and the Kings South African Medal with clasps 1901 & 1902 and clasps for action in the Orange Free State, Transvaal, Tugela Heights, Relief of Ladysmith and Laing’s Nek. For his time in India he was awarded the Indian Frontier Medal with clasps for action in the Punjab and Tirah in 1897 & 98.


Research is still continuing, if you can help in any way or have an interest in any of the men, then please contact us.


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