Monday, January 19, 2009

Charles Sabourin - updated

Charles Sabourin is one of those rarities - as I discovered late on Friday - who has surviving papers in both the WO 363 and WO 364 series at the National Archives. I already had copies of his badly burned and water damaged papers from the WO 363 series but was surprised to see that I'd missed pension records in the WO 364 series.

Charles, a serving militia man with the 3rd East Surreys, joined the Regular East Surrey Regiment in November 1900, saw service in the Boer War, spent five years in India and was then recalled as a reservist when the First World War was declared. Severely wounded on 23rd August 1914 - the first real day of fighting involving British troops - he was captured by the Germans, had his right leg amputated as a result of a shrapnel wound, and was repatriated as a Prisoner of War in February 1915. He then spent many months at Hickwells and, I think, Beechland House. As his pension records reveal, Charles continued to receive an army pension certainly up until 1952, by which time he would have been seventy years old.

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Charles's WW1 service with the East Surrey Regiment was brief to say the least. The two-volume title below, covers the history of the regiment from 1914 through to 1919, a period which saw the regiment sustain 6,750 casualties and win eight VCs.

In August 1914 the East Surreys comprised two Regular (1st and 2nd), one Reserve (3rd), one Extra Reserve (4th) and two Territorial battalions (5th and 6th); the Regimental Depot was at Kingston-on-Thames. As the war went on further battalions were added: eight so-called ‘Service’ battalions (7th to 14th) in Kitchener’s New Armies and a second and a third line battalion for each of the Territorial battalions for a total of eighteen battalions of which only nine saw active service overseas, and it is their war record which is the subject of this history.

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