Ernest Plummer and Charles Bristow both died on September 3rd; Ernest in 1916 and Charles the following year. Both enlisted very early in the war, Ernest joining the 12th Royal Sussex Regiment while Charles joined the 9th Battalion. This is their story.
SD/1643 Lance-Corporal Ernest Plummer, 12th Royal Sussex Regiment
According to Soldiers Died in The Great War, Ernest Plummer was born in Crawley, Sussex, enlisted at Grove Park (London) and gave his residence as Lewes.
In March 1915, Chailey Parish Magazine notes that Ernest Plummer is serving his King and Country and In October that year adds the additional information that he is a private with the Royal Sussex Regiment in England. The following month it adds that he is with the 2nd South Downs. Ernest Plummer’s regimental number was SD/1643, the SD portion of that refering to South Downs. The 11th, 12th and 13th Royal Sussex Regiment were also known as the 1st, 2nd and 3rd South Downs; Pals-type battalions which in time would find themselves assigned to a division (the 39th), with other Pals’ battalions.
By March 1916, Chailey Parish Magazine notes that Ernest Plummer is now a lance-corporal and still in England but by July he was featuring in The East Sussex News. In its July 14th issue, under a sub-heading, “CHAILEY – LOCAL CASUALTIES” it reported, “Corporal E Plummer of the [12th] Royal Sussex Regiment, [39th Div] whose house is at Coppards Bridge, Chailey, has received a bayonet wound in France.”
Chailey Parish Magazine notes in its July 1916 issue that Ernest Plummer is in France and the following month, that he has been wounded.
On September 15th 1916, The East Sussex News again reported on Lance-Corporal Plummer: “SOLDIER KILLED. Corpl E Plummer of the Royal Sussex Regiment, whose wife and five children live at Chailey, has been killed in action.”
The following month, in its roll of honour, Chailey Parish Magazine reported that Ernest Plummer had died of wounds on 3rd September 1916. The Commonwealth War Graves’ Commission confirms the date of death and also provides the additional information that he was the husband of Mrs J Blackman (formerly Plummer) of 6 Row, South Street, Chailey, Sussex.
Ernest Plummer is buried at Couin British Cememtery, France; grave reference IV.A.1. He is not believed to be directly related to the three Plummer brothers Albert, Alexander and Owen who were also killed in the First World War.
G/1654 Private Charles Bristow, 9th Royal Sussex Regiment
Charles Bristow was born around 1891 in Chailey and at the time the 1901 census was taken, was living at North Common with his family. The family comprised Henry Bristow (head, aged 37 and running his own market gardening business), his wife Emma Esther Bristow (aged 36) and their five children: Henry (aged 13 and working for his father), Ann Bristow (aged 12), Charles (aged nine), Erle Bristow (aged six) and Emily Bristow (aged four).
Chailey Parish Magazine first notes in October 1914 that Charles is serving his King and Country and the following October notes that he is serving with the 2nd Royal Sussex in France. The same issue also notes that he had been wounded on 25th September 1915 (the opening day of the Battle of Loos).
In April 1916 the parish magazine reports that Charles is in England. He is still noted as serving with the 2nd Royal Sussex and was presumably recuperating from wounds.
In December 1917, his name appears in the parish magazine’s roll of honour as having been killed in action on 3rd September. His regiment is still given as 2nd Royal Sussex but he had actually been posted to the the 9th battalion (presumably after recovering form his Loos wound). Soldiers Died records his number – G/1654 – and the fact that he enlisted at Lewes. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission adds that was 25 years old and was the son of Henry and Emma Bristow, of Chailey, Lewes and the husband of Emily Kate Bristow, of Ashleigh Grange, The Leas, Westcliff-on-Sea.
Charles is buried at La Clytte Military Cemetery, Heuvelland, West Flanders, Belgium; grave reference: I.F.37
Reg Philpott recalls that Charles’ brother Erle Bristow had tried to meet up with Charles in France but the day before they were due to do this, Charles was killed.