16th (SUSSEX YEOMANRY) BATTALION,
ROYAL SUSSEX REGIMENT
DIED OF WOUNDS RECEIVED IN THE BATTLE OF SHERIA, PALESTINE
9th NOVEMBER 1917, AGED 30
PETER PERYER was born in Rudgwick in 1888, the youngest son of Thomas and Mary Peryer, and brother of Thomas Peryer (born Rudgwick 1872), James Peryer (born Rudgwick 1875), Elizabeth Peryer (born Rudgwick 1877), Charles Peryer (born Rudgwick 1880), Amy Peryer (born Rudgwick 1885) and Emily Peryer (born Rudgwick 1886). He was baptised in Holy Trinity Church Rudgwick on 28th October 1888.
In 1911 Peter was employed as a postman, and was living with his parents and nephew Frederick in Ivy Cottage, Rudgwick Street, Rudgwick.
Whilst Peter's personal records appear to have been destroyed, his medal record card indicates that Peter was initially allocated the service number SD/1935 in the Royal Sussex Regiment. The SD prefix to his service number indicates that, after enlisting in Horsham in November 1914, Peter was assigned to the ranks of 12th (Southdown) Battalion, Royal Sussex Regiment (12/RSR).
Three ‘South Downs’ battalions were raised commencing September 1914 after Colonel Claude Lowther, of Herstmonceux Castle received permission from the War Office to raise units of local Sussex men. The battalions, designated the 11th, 12th and 13th Royal Sussex Regiment (occasionally referred to as 1st, 2nd and 3rd Southdown Battalions, or ‘Lowthers Lambs’) were raised by the end of 1914.
The 12th Battalion was formed on 3rd November 1914, with its main recruiting office at Bexhill-on-Sea. Training commenced at Cooden Camp, near Bexhill. It remained here until July 1915, when it moved to Detling Camp, near Maidstone, before proceeding to North Camp, Aldershot, on 29th September 1915. In October 1915 the battalion, together with 11th and 13th Battalions Royal Sussex Regiment (11/RSR and 13/RSR), became part of 116th Southdown Brigade, 39th Division, which had formed in Winchester in August 1915. The Division assembled at Witley in October and November. John Beacher and the 13/RSR remained in Witley Camp until March 1916.
TO FRANCE WITH THE BRITISH EXPEDITIONARY FORCE
On 5/6th March 1916, Peter and the battalion departed Southampton to land at Havre, France. In the following months Peter and the South Downs battalions served in the Fleurbaix and Festubert sectors of the British line before moving to the Richebourg area.
It is apparent that Peter left 12/RSR, possibly through injury or transfer. When he returned to active service it was to join 16th (Sussex Yeomanry) Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment (16/RSR) with the service number TF/315416 (16th Battalion was a Territorial Force battalion, hence the TF prefix to Peter's new service number).
TO PALESTINE WITH THE 16th (SUSSEX YEOMANRY) BATTALION
The 16th (Sussex Yeomanry) Battalion formed on 3rd January 1917 in Mersa Mutrah, Egypt, out of the dismounted Sussex Yeomanry. The battalion was attached to the 230th Brigade, 74th (Yeomanry) Division.
In France, Peter's brother Charles Peryer participated in the Battle of Arras with 11th Battalion Middlesex Regiment, and was killed in action by shellfire near Monchy-le-Preux on 12th April 1917.
In Palestine the Egyptian Expeditionary Force entered into the Third Battle of Gaza against Turkish forces in the area around Beersheba on 31st October 1917. Following a successful Allied attack, the Turkish forces withdrew to the stronghold of Tel el Sheria. The British commander, General Allenby chose to attack here on 6th November 1917, and separate the Turkish Seventh and Eighth Armies.
Palestinian Area of Operation, showing Beersheba (captured 31/10/1917)
and Turkish Beersheba-Gaza defence line.
Late in the afternoon of 5th November 1917 orders were received for the attack the following day. The men of 74th Division moved into their positions through the night and were ready for the attack by 3.30am. Close to the British front line, an isolated strong point called V46 was to be the objective of the men of the Sussex Yeomanry.
The ground was gently rolling and bare, and offered the men little cover. Whilst there was no barbed wire to oppose the British advance, the Turkish positions were dug into the forward faces to the gentle slopes and offered good fields of fire. In order from north to south, 74th Division, 60th Division and 10th Division attacked west towards the Turkish positions east of the Tel el Sheria to Beersheba railway line. The 230th Brigade, with 16/RSR advanced on the extreme right.
The attack did not benefit from artillery preparation, but the men of 16/RSR successfully captured V46. A second, circular redoubt was discovered between V46 and the Turkish frontline, which 16/RSR then had to engage. This position was also taken with the use of Lewis guns, rifle and hand grenades and finally at the point of the bayonet.
General Allenby recorded: “The attack progressed rapidly, the Yeomanry storming the works on the enemy's extreme left with great dash. ... Sheria Station was also captured before dark. The Yeomanry reached the line of the Wadi Sheria to Wadi Union. This attack was a fine performance, the troops advancing eight or nine miles during the day and capturing a series of very strong works covering a front of about seven miles, the greater part of which had been held and strengthened by the enemy for over six months. Some 600 prisoners were taken and some guns and machine guns captured. Our casualties were comparatively slight. The greatest opposition was encountered by the Yeomanry in the early morning, the works covering the left of the enemy's line being strong and stubbornly defended.”
The 16/RSR lost 26 men killed in action during the attack. Private Peter Peryer was wounded, and succumbed to his injuries three days later, on the 9th November 1917 at the age of 30. It is likely that he was laid to rest near the battlefield, and then his body subsequently moved to the Beersheba British War Cemetery when casualties were concentrated there.
Peter was posthumously awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal.
1901,1911 Census Returns
Medal Record Cards
Soldiers Died in the Great War.