Sunday, October 19, 2014

G/1657 Sergeant Major Ernest Still MM, Royal Sussex Regt

Ernest Still was born in Chailey around 1896.  The 1901 Census of England & Wales records the family living at North Common, Chailey.  Albert Still (37), headed the family and gave his trade as an ordinary agricultural labourer.  The rest of the family comprised Albert’s 37 year old wife Fanny and their eight children: Alice (aged 15 and working as a laundry maid), Albert (aged 13, working as a telegraph boy), Alfred (12), Arthur (nine), Daisy Maud (seven), Edward (seven), Ernest (four) and George Henry (nine months). 

In October 1914, in its first list of local men serving King and Country, Chailey Parish Magazine records Ernest Still’s name.  In October 1915, two further details are given: the fact that Ernest is a Private serving with the 2nd Royal Sussex and that he has been wounded on 8th August 1915 in France.  In November 1915, Chailey Parish Magazine notes that Ernest has since returned to active service.

By April 1916, Ernest was a lance-corporal; by October, a sergeant.  The following month, Chailey Parish Magazine notes that he has been awarded the Military Medal.  This award was also announced by The London Gazette on 10th October 1916, noting Ernest as 1657 Acting Corporal E Still, Royal Sussex Regiment.  His medal index card at The National Archives shows the same number and gives two ranks – private and corporal.  There is no mention from this source of a rank higher than corporal although his entry on the British War and Victory Medal roll records his rank as sergeant and also notes that he was formerly a corporal with the 2nd Battalion.

In December 1917, Chailey Parish Magazine reports that Ernest Still is now a quarter master sergeant and the following month, that he is now with a Trench Mortar Battery (TMB).  These were assigned on the basis of one TMB per infantry brigade. Personnel from the four infantry battalions in the brigade were sent on attachment to the TMBs but they retained their parent unit's badge as well as wearing an additional TMB cloth badge.  

In May 1918, the parish magazine notes that Ernest Still has been gassed and in January 1919 that he has been promoted again, this time to sergeant major.   
Ernest Still survived the war, ending it as a decorated 22 year old sergeant major (according to the parish magazine) with a trench mortar battery.  Four of his five brothers, Albert Still, Arthur Still, Edward Still and George Still also served their King and Country during the First World War.
Medal index card image courtesy of Ancestry.

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