RUDGWICK REMEMBERS
A SUSSEX VILLAGE'S TRIBUTE TO ITS FALLEN OF TWO WORLD WARS
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GEORGE HENRY HEASMAN

PRIVATE G/34561
16th BATTALION, MIDDLESEX REGIMENT

DIED AT DUISANS, FRANCE, OF WOUNDS SUSTAINED IN THE BATTLE OF ARRAS, 23rd APRIL 1917, AGED 29

BURIED: IV. A. 28., DUISANS BRITISH CEMETERY, ETRUN, FRANCE
Photo with kind permission of Pierre Vandervelden www.inmemories.com

GEORGE HENRY HEASMAN was born in Forest Row, Sussex in 1887, the eldest child of John and Alice Olive Heasman and brother of Leonard Heasman (born 1890), Mabel Heasman (born 1892), Frank Albert Heasman (born 1895)*, Charles Reginald Heasman (born 1898)* and Florence Heasman (born 1900).

In 1891 the family were living at 'Highbrook', West Hoathly where John Heasman was a farmer. By 1901 the family had moved to Ansty, and by 1911 had moved to Coopers Farm, Barns Green, Horsham. Later the family moved to Morgans Green, The Haven, near Billingshurst (but still in the parish of Rudgwick.)

Leonard Heasman, George's younger brother, enlisted at the very start of hostilities in 1914, joining the 13th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment. With the battalion he moved overseas at the start of March 1916. On 30th June 1916, in a diversionary attack the day preceding the Battle of the Somme, Leonard was killed in action.

ENLISTMENT AND ACTIVE SERVICE OVERSEAS

George's personal service record appear to have been destroyed during the Blitz of the Second World War, however surviving records indicate that he enlisted for service in Chichester. It appears that following training George arrived in France to serve with the British Expeditionary Force on 3rd December 1916. He was a member of a draft of reinforcements, and was posted to the 16th Battalion Middlesex Regiment (16/Middlesex) as a Private, with the service number G/34561. 16/Middlesex was an element of 86th Brigade, 29th Division.

At the start of 1917 the 16/Middlesex were in Breilly, to the west of Amiens. On 9th January they moved to St Pierre-a-Gouy, reaching the Morval sector of the British front line on 16th January. February saw the battalion in the trenches to the east of Sailly-Saillisel, and from 5th-20th March the men were at Mericourt l'Abbe.

THE BATTLE OF ARRAS

On the 9th April 1917 the Allied troops opened the Battle of Arras. On 14th April the battalion were in the line at the village of Monchy le Preux. The village, which had been captured three days earlier, was the focus of a German counter attack, described in Sir Douglas Haig's 4th Despatch (1917 Campaigns), of 25 December 1917:
"On other parts of our line heavy counter-attacks developed on the 14th April, the most violent of which were directed against Monchy-le-Preux. The struggle for this important position (held by the 29th Division, Major-General Sir H. de B. de Lisle) was exceedingly fierce.
The enemy's attacks were supported by the full weight of his available artillery, and at one time parties of his infantry reached the eastern defences of the village. To the south and the north, however, our posts held their ground, and in the end the enemy was completely repulsed, with great loss."














16/Middlesex area of operation and casualty locations, April 1917

On 22-23rd April the battalion were in the line around Monchy le Preux and Orange Hill (west of Monchy). They suffered no fatalities on the 22nd, but took part in an attack on the 23rd which took place along a nine mile stretch of the line between Croisilles and Gavrelle. It is indicative of this front line action that of the 14 men of the battalion that died on this day, nine have no known grave and are commemorated on the Arras Memorial, one is buried in Wancourt, two are buried in Guemappe, one in Arras.

The remaining man of the battalion who died on the 23rd was Private George Heasman, who succumed to his wounds whilst being treated at the 8th Casualty Clearing Station, Duisans, about 6 miles west of Arras. George was laid to rest in grave IV.A.28, in Duisans British Cemetery, Etrun, France, and was posthumously awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

The Battle of Arras lasted for 39 days for the cost of 139,000 casualties. The daily rate of casualties, at 4,076, was the highest of any of the major battles fought by the British in the First World War.

* Family Information
Charles Reginald (Charley) Heasman served as Private G/28987 of the 3rd Battalion Middlesex Regiment, Private 96227 of the 3rd Battalion Royal Fusiliers and Private G/22288 of the Royal West Kent Regiment. He attested on 19/02/1916, and was mobilized on 15/05/1916 at Chichester. Embarked at Devonport 01/09/1916, disembarked Salonika 11/09/1916, joined 3/Middx 21/09/1916. Contracted chronic malaria and was returned to the UK on 09/05/1918. To France with the BEF on 23/09/1918, transferred to 3/Royal Fusiliers 24/10/1918. Wounded in Action 04/11/1918. Rejoined 3/RF on 10/11/1918. Transferred 4/RF 27/02/1919, transferred 6/Royal West Kents 11/03/1919. Returned to UK 30/08/1919. Discharged on 31/08/1919. Personal Service Record online
Frank Albert Heasman served as Gunner 65531 of the Royal Garrison Artillery and Private 373889 of the Labour Corps. He survived the war.

Sources:
1901,1911 Census Returns
Free BDM
Soldier's Medal Record Cards
Soldiers Died in the Great War
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
'Cheerful Sacrifice' Jonathan Nicolls
Personal Service Record of Private Andrew Robert Groves, G/34568, arrived in France & transferred to 16/Middlesex on 03/12/1916. Missing in action 31/05/1917. Commemorated on the Arras Memorial.