We are please to have taken part in the “Passchendaele at Home” project launched in July 2017 by the “Big Ideas Company“.
Hundreds of men wounded at the Battle of Passchendaele died in the UK during treatment but there is no central record of the location of their graves or memorials.
Fought between July and November 1917, Passchendaele, also known as the Third Battle of Ypres, remains one of the most notorious battles of the First World War. In three-and-a-half months of fighting, an advance of less than five miles saw an estimated 550,000 Allied and German troops killed, wounded or lost.
One hundred years later, Passchendaele at Home is a ground breaking research-and-remember project to locate the graves and memorials in the UK for the first time. Schools and community groups are at the heart of this project.
This nationwide initiative gives the challenge to identify and research war graves and memorials in the UK belonging to servicemen who were wounded at the Battle of Passchendaele but who died of their wounds in the UK and are buried or commemorated here. It gives the Battle of Passchendaele a local dimension and gives an opportunity for community groups and schools to discover their local WWI heritage.
Through the project the Storrington Local History Group identified Lance Corporal L/10573 Albert Henry Hayler who served with the 9th Battalion the Royal Sussex Regiment . He died of wounds received on 15th August 1917, age 27 and is buried in Brighton (Downs) Cemetery and is commemorated on the Regimental Memorial in Chichester Cathedral, the Storrington War Memorial and The Storrington Roll of Honour and in the Storrington Book of Remembrance.
Alfred was the 8th child born to George and Ann Hayler on 31st March 1889 and the second boy, his older brother (George Thomas) being the first child born twelve and a half years previously. He was not however the youngest child; he had a younger sister Edith and possibly a younger brother Arthur who died aged 1. George senior worked as a carter on a farm and from the time of the 1891 Census through to the 1911, the family’s address was given as “Redford” which is variously described as being near to Bog Common, Freedland or Cootham. However, described, it was some distance for the children to walk to school in Storrington. According to the 1911 census the house had 5 rooms including the kitchen.
It is possible that Alfred was wounded at the Battle of Pilkhem Ridge. The battle opened at 3.50am on 31st July and resulted in tremendous casualties. Where ever he was wounded, he survived long enough to be taken via the aid post, casualty clearing station, casualty train, and boat back to the UK. He may have landed in Folkestone or Dover and had to endure another train journey to Brighton. There were several wartime hospitals in the Brighton area and the 2nd Eastern General Hospital occupied a boy’s grammar school and several elementary schools. During WW1 there were 233 London Brighton and South Coast ambulance trains carrying 30,070 patients to Brighton where there were beds for 98 officers and 1190 other ranks.