GEORGE JAMES BIRCHMORE
9th (SERVICE) BATTALION, ROYAL SUSSEX REGIMENT
DIED OF WOUNDS AT WULVERGHEM, YPRES
24th APRIL 1916, AGED 21
BURIED: II.D.162, BAILLEUL COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION (NORD), FRANCE
Photo with kind permission of Pierre Vandervelden www.inmemories.com
GEORGE JAMES BIRCHMORE was born in Wimbledom in 1895, the son of William and Sarah Birchmore, and brother of Ernest Birchmore (born Wimbledon 1890), Walter Birchmore* (born Wimbledon 1891), Frederick Birchmore* (born Wimbledon 1893), Harriett Birchmore (born Wimbledon 1897), Harold Birchmore* (born Wimbledon 1899), Rosa Birchmore (born Rudgwick 1902), Edward Birchmore (born Rudgwick 1903) and Charles (born Rudgwick 1905). In 1901 and 1911 the family were living in The Haven, near Billingshurst, where William senior was a baker. The 1913 publication of Kelly's Directory mentions Birchmore & Son as the baker in The Haven.
With the commencement of the First World War George enlisted for service in Horsham. At the start of the War the British Army was small by continental standards and it was obvious that it would need to be increased in size. Lord Kitchener, the Secretary of State for War launched a recruiting campaign for volunteers to man 'New Armies' to be trained for the conflict. George enlisted at Horsham and proceeded to the depot of the Royal Sussex Regiment at Chichester where he became Private G/3108 and joined the newly formed 9th (Service) Battalion (9/Sussex). Also from Rudgwick and posted to 9th Battalion was Private John Bulbeck.
The 9th (Service) Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment (9/Sussex) had formed in Chichester in September 1914 as a part of Lord Kitchener’s New Armies, manned by men answering the call for volunteers. The unit was designated a K3 battalion, indicating that it was part of the third 100,000 men to volunteer for service. It was an element of 73rd Brigade of 24th Division. Within the Division, training initially was somewhat chaotic; there were very few trained officers and NCOs, no organised billets or equipment. Basic uniforms were not received until March 1915 and rifles were not issued until July.
George and his colleagues trained on the Sussex Downs near Shoreham until 29th June 1915, when they moved to Woking in final preparation for their move overseas. Lord Kitchener inspected the Division at Chobham ranges on 19th August, followed the next day by King George V. Orders were received on 19th August to move to join the British Expeditionary Force in France.
TO FRANCE WITH THE BRITISH EXPEDITIONARY FORCE
The battalion proceeded to Southampton in three parties, embarked upon the SS 'La Marquerite', and sailed for Havre, disembarking on the morning of 1st September 1915. On 3rd September the battalion moved by train to Embry and Rimboval (approx 6 miles east of Etaples) where training continued, before commencing a march towards the forthcoming Battle of Loos on 21st September. On 25th September, the battalion received it's first experiences of the trenches, and it's first casualties as it was thrown into action on the first day of the Battle of Loos and by nightfall 65 men of the battalion had fallen.
The unit moved to the Ypres area, taking over trenches on the Bellewaarde Ridge, near Hooge. On 14th February 1916 the Germans detonated an underground mine beneath trenches held by 9/Sussex. In the ensuing action Lt E A McNair led members of the 9/Sussex to defend the newly created crater, fighting back the advancing Germans, and was subsequently awarded the Victoria Cross.
By April 1916 the battalion was deployed in the area of Wulverghem, south of Ypres and 2 miles west of Messines. Here George was wounded and died of his injuries on 24th April 1916. He was laid to rest in Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension (Nord), 6 miles west of Wulverghem, which suggests that he died whilst in one of the Casualty Clearing Stations in this area. He was posthumously awarded the 1915 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal.
Private George James Birchmore's Medal Record Card
George Birchmore’s grave at Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension, France
FREDERICK BIRCHMORE. Gamekeeper. Enlisted at St Neots, Huntingdon on 05/11/1915. Served in the Royal Army Medical Corps Private 80950. Transferred to 2/18th Battalion, London Regiment on 02/06/1916, as Private 5492. Embarked Southampton 23/06/1916, arrived Havre 24/06/1916. Wounded in action (GSW L Knee) 03/07/1916 Wounded in action (GSW Back) 21/07/1916. Embarked Marseilles 01/12/1916, arrived Salonika 11/12/1916. Embarked Salonika 10/06/1917, arrived Alexandria 12/06/1917. Transferred to the 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers 02/07/1918 as Private 52021. (Absent Voters List 1918 & Personal Records). Survived the War.
HAROLD BIRCHMORE served as Pte 21753 in the 1st Battalion Bedford Regiment (Absent Voters List 1918).
WALTER BIRCHMORE served as Pte 16427 in the 3rd Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment (Absent Voters List 1918).
1901 1911 Census Returns