Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment
(1st South Downs)
11th Bn Royal Sussex at Cooden October 1914 (©Paul Reed)
Researching a man from this battalion? See my WW1 Research page.
This battalion was formed on 7th September 1914 by Lieutenant Colonel Claude Lowther MP and Committee. The principal recruiting offices were located at:
Bexhill on Sea
Some 1,100 men enlisted in 56 hours.
All original enlistments were given an "SD" (South Downs) prefix to their regimental number.
The original composition of the Battalion was:
A Company : Eastbourne double company.
B Company : Eastbourne, Bexhill and Hastings.
C Company : Worthing, Herstmonceux, Horsham and Newhaven.
D Company : Bognor and Chichester.
Training took place at Cooden Camp, near Bexhill, from September 1914 until July 1915. At this stage the War Office took over direct control of the battalion and it moved to Detling Camp, near Maidstone in Kent. On 29th September 1915 the battalion moved to North Camp, Aldershot. In October it became part of 116th Brigade, 39th Division. This division had been formed at Winchester in August 1915, but concentrated at Witley via Aldershot in October/November 1915. From this date until March 1916, the battalion stayed at Witley Camp.
It crossed to France via Southampton on 5th/6th March 1916, landing at Havre.
It served on the Western Front with 116th Brigade, 39th Division until the Spring of 1918. Following heavy losses in the German Offensive of March/April 1918 the battalion was reduced to a training cadre on 23rd May 1918. It moved to Boulogne as part of the 25th Division on 30th June 1918, and then crossed to England. The battalion was reformed at Aldershot, moved to Deal (Kent) and absorbed other Royal Sussex Regiment personnel and the 13th Battalion Royal West Kents. At this stage it was part of the 75th Brigade, 25th Division. On 9th September 1918 this unit became the 236th Brigade and left the 25th Division, sailing from Dundee to North Russia on 17th October 1918. After service here, it returned to England in mid-1919 and was finally disbanded.
Battles and Engagements
30 June Boar’s Head, Richebourg [D Company only]
Battles of the Somme
3 September Fighting on the Ancre [Hamel]
26-28 September Battle of the Thiepval Ridge
5 October – 11 November Battle of the Ancre Heights
14 October Capture of the Schwaben Redoubt
21 October Capture of Stuff Trench
13 & 14 November Battle of the Ancre
Battles of Ypres (3rd Ypres)
31 July – 2 August Battle of the Pilckem Ridge
16-18 August Battle of Langemarck
20-25 September Battle of the Menin Road Ridge
29 October – 10 November Second Battle of Passchendaele
First Battles of the Somme
22-23 March Battle of St Quentin
24-25 March Actions on the Somme crossings
24-25 March Battle of Bapaume
26-27 March Battle of Rozieres
Battles of the Lys
16 April Fighting on the Wytschaete Ridge
17-19 April First Battle of Kemmel Ridge
25-26 April Second Battle of Kemmel Ridge
29 April Battle of the Scherpenberg
Sept 1914 – July 1915
Lieut Colonel C.Lowther MP
July 1915 – June 1916 Lieut Colonel H.J.M.Grisewood
July 1916 – March 1917 Lieut Colonel G.H.Harrison DSO
March 1917 – June 1917 Lieut Colonel W.C.Millward DSO
June 1917 Lieut Colonel E.N.Snepp (Norfolk Regt)
June 1917 – July 1917 Lieut Colonel C.E.Cummins (12th Durham Light Inf)
July 1917 – March 1918 Lieut Colonel W.C.Millward DSO
Original Officers September 1914
Commanding Officer: Lt-Col C.Lowther MP
Major: G.G.E. de la Warr
Grosvenor, Hon. R.
Lytton, Hon. N.
Lieutenants: Grisewood, G. Second Lieutenants: Bennett, G.
Hughes, S. Burgess, C.
Kidd, L. Cassels, E.
Page, E. Cunningham, K.
Pratt, G. Harrison, C.C.
Read, W. Penruddocke, C.
Trew, R. Winsland, F.
Quarter-Master: Trydell, W.F. Hon Lieut-QM
Medical Officer: Dr W.Amsden
Officers March 1916
Commanding Officer: Lt-Col H.J.Grisewood
Major: Hon N.S. Lytton
Adjutant: Capt C.E.A.Terry (late Buffs)
Quarter-Master: Hon Lieut-QM B.F.Swain
Captains: G.E.S.Campbell Lieutenants: G.Bennett
L.A.Groves T.A. St John
Summary of Battalion Casualties March 1916 – April 1918
|Richebourg 30.6.16||-||4||2 (a)||30 (4)||80||32|
|Hamel 3.9.16||-||3||8 (a)||105 (5)||160||123|
|Stuff Trench 21.10.16||3||3||-||73 (11)||186||77|
|Ypres 31.7.17||1||3||1(b)||27 (150 K/W/M)||-||-|
|Menin Road 24/27.9.17||3||7||-||51 (195 K/W/M)||-||-|
|Somme March 1918||3||11||6 (b)||67 (300 K/W/M)||-||-|
|Ypres 16/27.4.18||1||1||1(b)||40 ("heavy casualties")||-||-|
K : Killed in Action
W : Wounded
M : Missing
(a) Subsequently known to have been killed.
(b) Subsequently known to have been taken prisoner.
(c) Figures from ‘Soldiers Died in the Great War’; figures in brackets are from Btn ‘War Diary’.
Blunden, Edmund Undertones of War (First published 1928)
|Memoir by one of the major twentieth century War Poets who served with the 11th Btn from May 1916 until February 1918. Mentions many names, both officers and men. A superb account of the battalions activities.|
Lytton, Neville The Press and the General Staff (Collins 1920)
|The author was an original 11th Btn officer who was later attached to the Staff of the 39th Division, and eventually posted to GHQ. Mentions the names of many officers.|
McPhail, Helen On The Trail of the Poets: Edmund Blunden (Pen & Sword Books 1999)
|One of a number of guidebooks in the ‘Battleground Europe’ series following some of the major war poets. This one deals with Edmund Blunden, and covers his service well – with a few minor errors. Some good photos, including named portraits and groups.|
©PAUL REED 2002