Photo with kind permission of Pierre Vandervelden www.inmemories.com
ALFRED THOMAS CHEESMORE was born in Rudgwick on 19th June 1898, the son of Thomas and Harriet Cheesmore (nee Harriet Francis), brother of Florence Nellie (born Rudgwick 1895) and twin brother of Lois Winifred (born Rudgwick 1898). In 1901 and 1911 the family were living in Buck's Green, where Thomas was a farm labourer.
Alfred's personal service records appear to have been destroyed in the Blitz of the Second World War, however surviving records of men with similar regimental numbers to Alfred indicate that he was called up for duty on or around 13th February 1917, enlisted at Horsham and attested for service on or around 17th February 1917. Following his basic training at the Royal Sussex Regiment Depot at Chichester it is likely that Alfred joined the British Expeditionary Force in France on or around 8th May 1917, initially being sent to the base depot and then being posted to 7th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment, (7/Sussex). The battalion was an element of 36th Brigade, 12th Division.
THE BATTLE OF CAMBRAI
The battalion was involved in the Battle of Cambrai, which commenced on 20th November 1917 and lasted until 7th December 1917. The 7/Sussex attacked successfully at 6.20am on the first day of the battle at Gonnelieu, losing 3 officer and 106 men as casualties (of which the Commonwealth War Graves Register notes that 2 officers and 18 men died on the day). The battalion launched an attack again at 7am on the 25th November, the battalion war diary noting that whilst the advance was also successful, 1 officer was killed, 3 officers wounded and a further 116 men were casualties (25 died on 25th - CWGC). On 1st December the battalion experienced a bombing attack by the enemy, combined with heavy artillery fire, causing a further 24 casualties amongst the men (2 died - CWGC). The following day the 7/Sussex came out of the battle line on 2nd December 1917, and remained out of the line for the rest of the year.
One of the men wounded in the actions at Cambrai was Private Alfred Cheesmore. He was evacuated through the casualty clearing system, reaching a base hospital in Rouen where, on 27th December 1917, aged 19, he succumbed to his wounds. Alfred was laid to rest in St Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen, and was posthumously awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal
The Rudgwick War Memorial in Holy Trinity Church incorrectly displays Alfred's surname as 'Cheesemore'.
1901,1911 Census Returns
Soldier's Medal Records
Battalion War Diary
Soldiers Died in the Great War
Commonwealth War Graves Commission